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Foggy Bottom Historic District Arts Walking Tour
Item 10 of 13
This is a contributing entry for Foggy Bottom Historic District Arts Walking Tour and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

Just after the lamp post sculpture, turn right on the access road before the first set of row houses on I Street. You can't miss Daniel Zeltner's red, white, blue and Black mural of cows, spilt milk, hearts and the Nation's Capitol. The lead blue cow, with its cow bells and heart-shaped spots, stands on a large red heart and the smaller red cow sitting in a puddle of milk are central figures. But keep looking because there are so many other images to see. The cow's face that turns the corner of the wall adds a touch of dimensional whimsy.

Zeltner, who resides in Switzerland, was visiting Washington, D.C. and became friends with the house's owner. He painted it in 2014 at the owner's request.

This row house itself (2532 I St.) was built by immigrant Irishman craftsman Peter McCartney in 1889. The interior retains the original mantle that McCartney also designed.

Blue cow with heart-shaped dots and cow bell

Paint, World, Azure, Tree

Red cows, blue cows and puddles of milk

Blue, Azure, Textile, Paint

Cow's head turning the corner, detail

Photograph, Vertebrate, Azure, Paint

Zeltner at work on an outdoor mural

Sky, Building, Leisure, Recreation

"Women" in Washington, D.C. sharing a drink

Art, Font, Table, Rectangle

Woman reclining

Art paint, Paint, Textile, Art

Detail of large exterior mural

Nature, Organism, Painting, Paint

According to Zeltner's biography: "The creative and free expression in the graffiti art inspires him. Traces of American graffiti [] are visible in the style of his drawings and illustrations today." In the tradition of street graffiti, Zeltner paints directly on the unprimed wall. He was born in Basel, Switzerland (1984) and has quite a following for his murals, canvas, and paperwork art. He attended the Basel design school and spent several years working as a screen printer and graphic designer.

Why the cows? According to the artist, "It was kind of a joke. I'm from Switzerland and I did let some Swiss cows in Washington... I placed them in front of the White House...(should be the White House not the Capitol)...In another meaning you can say that we are all cows whom doing our business every day...we are eating in front of the White House/in front of the politicians and their decisions...

I wanted to paint something bright & easy is peaceful... Something that gives you a the same time we have the White House in the you can also understand it like this: when we would behave and treat us like cows/or animals...we would maybe live in a more peaceful environment...? these are just thoughts. Zeltner concludes, it "would be great to come back to Washington, D.C. and paint another wall there!"

Personal communication with Daniel Zeltner, January, February 2022

DC History Preservation Office, HistoryQuestDC

Daniel Zeltner website (see link below)

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Vogt/Leone, 2021

Vogt/Leone, 2021

Leone, Vogt, 2021

Singular Art (website below)

Zeltner's personal sketchbook, 2014

Zeltner collection, 2014

Zeltner collection