There are times when I think that if I see one more painting of a dainty, prancing, big-eyed horse tossing its flying mane that I will fall on the ground gasping for air as the saccharine slowly turns my body into a sludgy mess ready for a scene on the millionth episode of CSI-Wherever currently airing.
Officer: What do you think killed her?
CSI: Barbie-Horse Syndrome – brought on by a particularly potent toxin that causes a painful lingering death by aesthetic starvation. Children are immune but for anyone over 14 it’s usually fatal.
Officer: Too late for her I guess, but is there a cure?
CSI: A little exposure to the sculptures of Deborah Butterfield and an infusion of red horse paintings by September Vhay.
Officer: Good to know. OK people, bag her and throw her in the bus.
Deborah Butterfield. “Cabin Creek,” 1999
Deborah Butterfield never fell into the trap of sentimentalizing horses into pastel oblivion but she didn’t go for an ironic contemporary cheap shot either. And in the beginning of her career that was hard. Butterfield began sculpting horses out of found objects in the 1970’s and was soon criticized for her subject matter according to an article on the Equitrekking website. Representational art had fallen out of favor unless done in a pop art style. She persevered and in the 80’s her career took off and has continued strongly into her fourth decade as a notable and highly respected artist.
This December, inspired by a Butterfield horse sculpture she saw in a Seattle hospital while visiting a sick friend, September Vhay showcased her newest Red Horse Drawings in the Altimara Fine Art gallery in Jackson Wyoming , the first all red horses show she has done in three years.
Inspired by Sumi-e techniques of Japanese ink and wash paintings, she adheres to their practice of depicting the subject in a few strokes while still reflecting its soul and spirit. Her Red Horse portfolio can be seen here on her website:
The show ends on January 1. Too bad I can’t go because I’m actually incredibly sentimental about a certain red horse.