Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

50 States of Public Art: The What a Hoot! Public Art Project in Coxsackie, New York

Public art is everywhere, and this is the season for getting out and viewing it. Which is why I’ve started using Wednesdays on Caterpickles to highlight public art projects happening now in various parts of the country.  Obviously, The Eleven-Year-Old and I can’t visit all these places in person ourselves, so we’d love to know if you have. Send us your photos or leave us a comment telling us what you saw and what you thought about it. Or if you’d like us to hunt down some public art near you, just leave a note in the comments and we’ll happily see what we can find. With that, let’s take a quick trip to upstate New York. 

The What a Hoot! Public Art Project in Coxsackie, New York

The Freedom owl is painted red, white, and blue, naturally. The owl's head is white, his wings striped red and white, and his blue belly is full of white stars.

Freedom by Ellen De Lucia was the prototype owl for the 2017 What a Hoot! exhibition. (Photo via What a Hoot! public art project website.)

Art Credit: Freedom by Ellen De Lucia, 2017

Photo Source: Hoot of the Owl website

Associated Public Art Project:

The second annual What a Hoot! public art exhibition is underway in Coxsackie, New York. This year’s exhibition includes 52 owls painted by 43 local artists.

Sponsored by Village of Coxsackie and organized by the Hoot of the Owl Committee, the owls featured in the What a Hoot! public art project will be auctioned off on October 13, 2018 to raise money for local charities.

While wandering through town, you may notice that one of the owls is actually a cat and another looks more like a bear. That’s because Coxsackie has swapped two of its artful creatures with nearby Cairo and Catskill to encourage local residents to visit other parts of upstate New York’s Greene County this summer. So if you want to see all of the owls this summer, you’ll need to plan on trips to Cairo and Catskill as well.

Want to see the What a Hoot! owls in person?

The owls, cat, and bear are scattered throughout the town of Coxsackie. The organizers have published a map to the owls on their website.

While you’re in upstate New York, don’t miss…

  • The Cairo Bears Community Art Project (map), sponsored by the Cairo Development Foundation. The bears will be auctioned off on September 29, with proceeds going to the participating artists as well as future town revitalization projects.
  • The 12th annual Cat’N around Catskill Public Art Project (map), sponsored by the Heart of the Catskills Association (HOCA). HOCA plans to direct the funds from the September 22 sale of its cats to the participating artists, local non-profits, and the Barry Hopkins Art Scholarship Fund.

Want to go, but need help selling it to your kids?  

The fact that public art is installed in public spaces creates all sorts of opportunities for family fun. Pack a picnic lunch, and pair the outing with a trip to a nearby park or playground. If you have one, consider bringing your dog.

Don’t have time for a full-fledged outing? Challenge your kids to keep their eyes open while you are out and about doing something else. I bet they (or you) will spot something interesting on your next walk, bike ride, or errand run.

My book, What’s That, Mom?: How to use public art to engage your children with the world around them… without being an artist yourself, is full of tips like these for making public art sightings fun for your entire family.

What’s That, Mom? provides 15 accessible, practical strategies for using public art to spark conversations with children between the ages of 3 and 10 — no artistic talent or insight required. What’s That, Mom? is available at and Amazon. There’s even a journal to go with it so that your kids can sketch their favorite works of art and you can record your favorite moments from your outing.

NOTE: The above paragraphs contain affiliate links to, an online bookstore that provides financial support to local, independent bookstores. At the time I wrote this post, had already raised $12.8m for local bookstores. If you use the link in the previous paragraph to purchase my book on, I’ll earn a commission on your book purchase, as will your preferred independent bookshop. You can also find my book in the new Caterpickles BookstoreRegardless of whether you use my links or visit the Caterpickles Bookstore, thank you for spending part of your day reading Caterpickles. Learn more about Affiliate Links, the Caterpickles Bookstore, and why I decided to become a Affiliate.

Happy public art hunting!

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