Horsemania: They’re baaack

LexArts President and CEO Jim Clark, Horsemania 2010 co-chairs Steve Grossman and Becky Reinhold, and America's Fiberglass Animals owner Patrick Keough  inspect horses like the ones that will be part of the forthcoming exhibit. Photo by Rich Copley | LexGo.

LexArts President and CEO Jim Clark, Horsemania 2010 co-chairs Steve Grossman and Becky Reinhold, and America's Fiberglass Animals owner Patrick Keough inspect horses like the ones that will be part of the forthcoming exhibit. Photo by Rich Copley | LexGo.

A dark SUV with a trailer rolled up next to ArtsPlace Friday morning carrying some familiar figures: Horsemania horses.

The four fiberglass colts on Patrick Keough’s trailer were the first tangible sign that the popular 2000 public art exhibit will be returning to Lexington in 2010 for the World Equestrian Games.

“That’s the most frequent question I get, ‘When are the horses coming back?'” LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark said.

The 2000 exhibit of fiberglass horses decorated by local artists was displayed all over the streets of downtown Lexington and beyond. It was wildly popular, sending people on walking tours throughout the summer. Some of those horses can still be seen around the area at local businesses that bought them at a Keeneland auction late that fall.

Clark said 10 years was a good interval to wait for the next exhibit.

“If you do it too often, it may start to lose its charm,” Clark said.

Horsemania 2010 will work much like it did a decade ago, with around 80 horses being decorated by local artists. A notable exception will be the involvement of Lexington’s sister cities — Deauville, France; County Kildare, Ireland; Shinhidaka, Japan; and Newmarket, England. Each town will select an artist to decorate a horse, which will be part of the display.

The calendar will also unfold much like the original Horsemania. LexArts is currently soliciting sponsorships of horses at $5,000 each for the 79 local horses and $7,500 each for the four sister city horses. The call for artists will be in the winter of 2010, selection will be in the spring with the horses hitting the streets in July and the auction in December 2010.

Horsemania was at the beginning of a public art craze that started with decorated cows in Chicago and went on to include guitars in Cleveland and pigs in Cincinnati.

Keough, owner of Shelton, Neb.-based America’s Fiberglass Animals, which made the original Horsemania figures, said horses have been one of the popular figures he has done, with cities like Louisville and Ocala, Fla., staging horse projects.

“But we were the first,” Clark interjected.

Keough responded, “That’s right. It was you all that made the phone ring.”

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