A good friend forwarded this announcement from the Froelick Gallery here in Portland:
Juried Group Exhibit: Equine theme
June 01 – July 16, 2011
“Across cultural boundaries and throughout history, few animals have carried as much symbolic weight as the horse. They can stand for unrestrained freedom and independence, loyalty, luxury and nobility, erotic potency. At the same time they can also be reminders of domestication and the bearing of heavy burdens; they can portend death and the ravages of time. The wounded horse in Picasso’s Guernica is an enduring symbol of agony and injustice.
People form deeply impassioned relationships with horses. While the dynamic between rider and steed can be powerful-inspirational, romantic, healing-there is also power in an implied absence of that relationship. Consider the riderless horse in a funeral cortege.
Froelick Gallery invites you to join the many artists who have taken the horse as their subject.”
Coincidently, I had kept this grainy photo of two draft horses because I liked the composition and felt it had great potential. Here was my opportunity to take this strong image and do something with it. The main challenge: I learned about the juried show on Wednesday, and the deadline for submissions was Friday. No time to waste!
I did some research and found lots of great shots of draft horses.
At the same time, I recalled from my childhood the wonderful line drawings of the Hungarian born illustrator, Willy Pogany (1882 – 1955).
I’ve loved his work since I was a kid and his influence is clear in “Two Horsepower”, the title of the piece I planned to enter in the juried show.
My thought was to generate the line art in pen and ink much in the same way I approached the Pedersen: King of Bicycles poster featured in an earlier post. I would then color it digitally on the Mac. As a fan of both Pogany and turn-of-the-nineteenth-century posters, I wanted the composition to feature a graphically bold main image supported by distinctive type.
Here is a section of the horse in the background. I’ve shown both the line and the color layer, similar to traditional animation cells.
Above is a detail of the application of color over the line art.
Once completed, the piece had some nice visual things going, but to make the piece more fitting a sophisticated fine art gallery, I wanted to add something to make the viewer think as well as see.
I found this rather powerful quote from the Executive Vice President of the American Humane Society:
“Every year, more than 90,000 American horses are slaughtered for human consumption abroad in countries such as France, Belgium, and Japan. These magnificent creatures have been part of the fabric of American life for centuries. They faithfully plowed our fields & carried our loads. The House and Senate have both stated decisively that horses deserve better than to be hoisted by a rear leg, cut with a long blade, and bled out for the purpose of being served to foreign gourmands.”
– Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President, Humane Society of the United States. 2012.
As of today’s posting, I do not know if this 34 x 44″ mixed media digital print will be accepted for the show.
Here is my artist statement included with the submission:
“For the past 35 years, I have made my living as an illustrator doing humorous characters, realistic animal portraiture and children’s books. I like the strong graphics of turn-of-the-nineteenth century advertising posters – especially those which combine an esthetically compelling visual image with the printed word to create a third meaning.
In my poster, 2 HP, strength and nobility of the draft horse is what strikes the viewer initially. The accompanying text brings into focus a brutal reality that challenges that romantic concept.
What should be done with 1,500 pounds of flesh when it no longer serves the purpose to haul heavy loads or plow fields?
Where does one draw the line between pragmatism and ethical treatment of animals?”
Title: 2 HP (Two Horsepower)
Date: March 10, 2011
Media: Pen + ink with digital color. Archival ink on heavy stock.
Size: 34 x 44″
Limited edition digital print, series of ten.
Update: “2HP” was not accepted into “Equine”, the Froelick Gallery 2011 juried show. A disappointment.