Collector’s Fo­cus: The Art of the Horse

American Art Collector - - Contents - BY JOHN O'HERN

John Stein­beck, who un­der­stood horses, wrote, “A man on a horse is spir­i­tu­ally, as well as phys­i­cally, big­ger than a man on foot.” Artists have drawn and sculpted horses for mil­len­nia. In the academies, stu­dents study the skele­tal struc­ture of their sub­jects and the at­tach­ment of mus­cles and flesh be­fore they paint the spir­i­tual and phys­i­cal thing that in­spired them.

Sev­eral years ago I vis­ited Daniel Sprick in his stu­dio as he was painstak­ingly as­sem­bling the bones of a horse whose car­cass he had found, car­ried home in his pickup, cleaned and stored. The as­sem­bled horse and skele­tal rider (whom Sprick did not find in a field) ap­pear in his paint­ing Snow Rider, 2016, as ma­jes­tic as any fully fleshed horse rid­den by a gen­eral or a king. Skele­tons of­ten ap­pear in his paint­ings, star­tling as we madly at­tempt to put on mus­cles and flesh in our mind’s eye un­til we set­tle into the beauty of the struc­ture, Sprick’s del­i­cate at­ten­tion to its de­tails and his in­tro­duc­tion of an ethe­real light.

Po­laris, the North Star, has been used in nav­i­ga­tion since an­tiq­uity be­cause of the rel­a­tive steadi­ness of its po­si­tion in the night sky. Daniel Bilmes paints with ir­reg­u­lar brush­strokes that re­main en­er­get­i­cally them­selves as they co­a­lesce into im­ages of haunt­ing beauty, cor­po­real yet mys­ti­cal. His con­fi­dent ab­strac­tion is based firmly in his aca­demic train­ing. In Po­laris, 2017, a young woman slumps on a horse’s back as it fol­lows an­other young woman as she strides forward. Sub­tle shifts in color and tech­nique bring to life the mod­els’ di­aphanous dresses, the horse’s glis­ten­ing eye and his solid mus­cu­la­ture.

Rimi Yang bal­ances the ab­stract and the fig­u­ra­tive in in­tu­itive dis­plays of bravura brush­work. A Korean artist, raised in Ja­pan and now living in the U.S., Yang blends cul­tures into med­i­ta­tive im­ages of uni­ver­sal but mys­te­ri­ous sym­bol­ism. She has said, “Mankind tries to or­der the un-or­der­able, ex­plain the in­ex­pli­ca­ble. Do we re­ally al­ways need to rea­son, un­der­stand and struc­ture, or could we in­stead seek out the vi­bra­tion that con­nects all life in an instant?” Of­ten her fe­male fig­ures are de­picted with horses and are steeped in his­tory while be­ing un­com­pro­mis­ingly

con­tem­po­rary. The mu­si­cian in Jour­ney of the Naked God­dess, for in­stance, sits on a horse rem­i­nis­cent of the ce­ramic horses of the Chi­nese Tang Dy­nasty (618-907) with their un­usual glazes. Yang’s horse is re­s­plen­dent in colors the sculp­tors never would have imag­ined.

In Greek myth, Pe­ga­sus, the great winged horse, sprung from the blood of the Gor­gon Me­dusa and was tamed by Bellerophon who rode him into vic­to­ri­ous bat­tle. Zeus re­warded Pe­ga­sus by mak­ing him a constellation. To­day he is best known as the sym­bol of Mo­bil Oil. Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

Michael Bergt, in his in­tri­cate egg tem­pera paint­ing, Shoot­ing Star, 2016, de­picts a fall­ing horse and rider with the rider gaz­ing at a fall­ing star. Through­out his­tory shoot­ing stars have raised of­ten di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed in­ter­pre­ta­tions from souls be­ing freed from pur­ga­tory to the souls of ba­bies com­ing to take their place in the mor­tal coil. Al­most uni­ver­sally, a shoot­ing star has been thought of as a mo­ment to make a wish. As enig­matic as his paint­ings, Bergt of­fers, “When you see a shoot­ing star, quick make a wish. But what we don’t re­al­ize is a shoot­ing star is sim­ply a horse and rider fall­ing from the sky af­ter tir­ing of their time as a heav­enly constellation. Per­haps it was Apollo de­cid­ing to re­lease a horse to grant a fa­vored wish of the vig­i­lant ob­server. Stay alert…”

In the pages of this spe­cial sec­tion are horses—real and imag­ined—in both highly re­al­is­tic and im­pres­sion­is­tic ren­der­ings. Also pro­vided are in­sights from gallery own­ers and artists on in­spi­ra­tions, the

mar­ket for equine art and much more.

When Bar­bara Zanelli draws or paints, it is for the sheer joy of it and, for her, it is an act of rev­elry, wor­ship, pure and sim­ple. “My job is to touch oth­ers’ hearts by re­veal­ing my own,” she says. “The horse has al­ways been my fa­vorite sub­ject mat­ter since I was a child and first fell in love. Whether gal­lantly gal­lop­ing or peace­fully graz­ing, the horse never fails to cap­ture my imag­i­na­tion and en­am­ored at­ten­tion.”

Paint­ing in tra­di­tional oils in a modern for­mat, Car­rie Ny­gren aims to cap­ture the in­her­ent spirit, char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity of the horses that come alive on her can­vases. “Whether it’s a por­trait or a cap­tured mo­ment in ac­tion, there is noth­ing no­bler than the horse and his re­la­tion­ship with man,” she says. “Each paint­ing car­ries its own per­sonal story.” Work­ing in a con­tem­po­rary style, J. M. Bro­drick presents horse portraits that are loose, yet metic­u­lous in the phys­i­cal at­tributes. Bro­drick elab­o­rates, “I am a painter work­ing to­ward merg­ing my need for real­ism with the beauty of pure ab­stract,

“Choos­ing your art should be sim­i­lar to how you choose your mu­sic—an es­cape from re­al­ity for a mo­ment, leav­ing you feel­ing better for hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced it.”

— J. M. Bro­drick, artist

while try­ing to cap­tur­ing the spirit of every horse I paint.”

Since a young age, Kristin Gre­vich has been in­ter­ested in horses. Through­out the years she has shown horses, com­peted in both the Western and English worlds of rid­ing, rodeo, fox hunt­ing and more. “My in­fat­u­a­tion with the horse has now taken on an­other path to my love of paint­ing,” she says. “This is the year that I will be cre­at­ing my se­ries of horse paint­ings. I will be paint­ing with all of the knowl­edge of horses that I have been for­tu­nate to love and ex­pe­ri­ence through­out my life.”

Lau­rie Jus­tus Pace ex­hibits her equine paint­ings at a num­ber of gal­leries in the coun­try. Her paint­ing Cliffhang­ers is avail­able at the Fringe Gallery in Salt Lake City; The Herd - Re­turn of the Painted Ponies is at Mi­rada Fine Art in Colorado; and Tran­scend­ing will ship to La Jolla Gallery in Cal­i­for­nia.

“In Lau­rie’s work we found the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of con­tem­po­rary and Western,” says Eric Wadding­ton of the Fringe Gallery. “Her work al­ways boasts a gor­geous blend of colors, thickly tex­tured brush­strokes and just enough artis­tic ab­strac­tion, com­bin­ing for a fas­ci­nat­ing state­ment piece on any wall.”

Steve Son­nen, owner of Mi­rada Fine Art, says, “Her pas­sion­ate works are alive with move­ment and tex­ture boldly cre­ated with a pal­ette knife. Con­stantly push­ing the edge, she loves work­ing in oils, dra­mat­i­cally carv­ing out the thick paint, fluid with

color and burst­ing with en­ergy.”

In­spired by Sir Fran­cis Ba­con’s dec­la­ra­tion that “Na­ture is of­ten hid­den, some­times over­come, sel­dom ex­tin­guished,” Cal­i­for­nia artist Sally Ruddy is in­flu­enced by the emo­tions and in­ti­ma­cies of our world with land­scape com­po­si­tions that en­cap­su­late sub­tle mo­ments of awe and won­der. Rec­og­niz­ing the ad­mi­ra­tion for na­ture found through­out her se­ries, Ruddy’s new Lov­ing Na­ture Se­ries ex­presses a pro­found love for tra­di­tion, fam­ily and her home­land.

Omit­ting fine de­tails in the scenery, Ruddy cre­ates a set­ting that is oth­er­worldly, trans­port­ing her view­ers into her in­ti­mate memories of fam­ily and self. With metic­u­lous ded­i­ca­tion to her sub­jects, her paint­ings are dream­like and mov­ingly sen­ti­men­tal as they vi­brate with color and in­trin­sic emo­tion.

Born in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia, in the 1940s, Mil­bie Benge be­came fa­mil­iar with ru­ral scenes as she trav­eled with her fa­ther dur­ing his mis­sion­ary work. Her love af­fair with art and na­ture has spanned her en­tire life. Thanks to her trav­els in her youth, and vis­it­ing Europe and Asia as an adult, Benge has a wide and ac­cu­rate knowl­edge of the coun­try­side and its an­i­mals. From ma­jes­tic stal­lions stand­ing proud in their pas­tures to lov­ing scenes of mares and foals frol­ick­ing in the lush land­scape, she cap­tures each scene with love and heart­felt pride. Her paint­ings are found at Fayette Gallery in Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tucky.

April 2 to 5, the RE­VEAL In­ter­na­tional Con­tem­po­rary Art Fair will take place at the Saratoga Springs City Cen­ter in Saratoga Springs, New York, bring­ing to­gether 50 se­lect gal­leries for its pre­miere edi­tion. The fair is “thrilled that Em­manuel Fremin Gallery will ex­hibit the stun­ning eques­trian portraits by ac­claimed pho­tog­ra­pher Bob Ta­bor.”


1. Ar­ca­dia Con­tem­po­rary, Po­laris, oil on panel, 36 x 72", by Daniel Bilmes. 2. Nüart Gallery, Shoot­ing Star, egg tem­pera on panel, 24 x 18", by Michael Bergt. 3. Daniel Sprick, Snow Rider, oil on board, 40 x 30" 4. RE­VEAL In­ter­na­tional Con­tem­po­rary Art Fair, 5S5A9039, pho­tog­ra­phy, ed. of 8, 72 x 36", by Bob Ta­bor. Cour­tesy Em­manuel Fremin Gallery.

5. Blue Rain Gallery, Jour­ney of the Naked God­dess, oil on can­vas, 48 x 48", by Rimi Yang. 6. Ge­orge Bil­lis Gallery, #7, graphite on can­vas, 48 x 60", by Joseph Pic­cillo.






7. RE­VEAL In­ter­na­tional Con­tem­po­rary Art Fair, 0059, pho­tog­ra­phy, ed. of 16, 45 x 66", by Bob Ta­bor. Cour­tesy Em­manuel Fremin Gallery. 8. Bar­bara Zanelli, An­dalu­sian, trace mono­type, 22 x 18" 9. Bar­bara Zanelli, Bronze Horse, trace mono­type and bronze leaf on pa­per, 12 x 12" 10. Car­rie Ny­gren, Chas­ing it Down, oil, 36 x 50" 11. Car­rie

Ny­gren, Capone, oil, 30 x 40" 12. J. M. Bro­drick, Brave­heart, acrylic, 20 x 16" 13. J. M. Bro­drick, Cochise, acrylic, 20 x 16" 14. Fayette Gallery, Friends on a Misty Day, oil, 24 x 20", by Mil­bie Benge. 15. Fayette Gallery, A Fall Day, oil, 16 x 20", by Mil­bie Benge. 16. Lau­rie Jus­tus Pace, Cliffhang­ers, oil on can­vas, 36 x 36" 17. Lau­rie Jus­tus Pace, The Herd - Re­turn of the Painted Ponies, oil on can­vas, 32 x 48" 18. Sally Ruddy, Horse Lovers, oil on can­vas, 18 x 24"













19. Lau­rie Jus­tus Pace, Tran­scend­ing, oil on can­vas, 36 x 36" 20. Kristin Gre­vich, Down the Stretch, oil on linen panel, 9 x 12" 21. Sally Ruddy, Hello?, oil on can­vas, 16 x 20"




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