Ocala Painted Horses

On our recent trip to Silver Springs, we were right there at Ocala. I talked everyone into stopping in Ocala so I could try to find some of the painted horses that are on display around town.  It was getting late and the sun would be going down soon so I didn’t have a whole lot of time.  I headed to City Square since there would be several horses there that I could photograph.  There are apparently dozens of these horses around town but I wasn’t able to take the time to track them all down.  I will say that if you ever get to Ocala, FL it’s worth checking out!  I’ll get back up that way again one of these days and will locate more horses then.

Having grown up in Lexington, KY, I was curious how a town in Florida could be compared to my Bluegrass State.  I’m guessing that the primary reason these two places are linked are the horse farms and the famous thorobred race horses that have been bred in both places.

Can you imagine how frustrating it is for a kid growing up in Lexington, surrounded by famous horse farms, to not be allowed to ride horses or take riding lessons?  I have always harbored an innate love for horses.  I see them as one of the most majestic creatures God placed here.  But, alas, for some reason (never revealed to me) my mother was afraid of horses.  She kept saying that she was afraid to let me ride because she just “knew” I’d get bucked off and kicked in the head and die.  Pleasant, right?  I never learned what she experienced that made her so afraid but I never lost my love for horses.  Unbeknownst to her, there were numerous times I would sneak off and ride at any and every opportunity that presented itself!  Granted, there weren’t many times but I took what I could get!  But I digress!!

Ocala created The Horse Fever public art project in 2001.  My understanding is that various local artists are selected to demonstrate their talent with fantastic concepts realized through a variety of media on life-sized fiberglass forms, including acrylic paint, vinyl, and embellishment.  Horses were then auctioned off for charity and they are displayed in convenient permanent locations to accommodate walking tours, groups, and motorists. (www.MCAOcala.com)

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IRIS
Jay Rosen

Artist’s Statement (Iris)

According to Greek mythology, Iris was the soul of the rainbow, traveling with the speed of the wind.When painting Iris, my goal was to depict a lively racehorse with a strong sense fiery rhythm, inspired by the charged potential energy surging throughout the horse. The vibrant colors echo the fierce tempo of its fluctuating existence, as a racehorse, constantly in action. About 70 layers of individual colors were used to paint the horse, simulating Neo-Impressionistic techniques. With no definitive form to the abstract patterns, the observer optically mixes the colors within their mind, constructing newer colors and paths for the eye to travel.

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AGGIE
Artist Carlynne Hershberger

Plaque (Aggie)

This horse is definitely a “piece of the rock” — the Florida state stone, that is.  “Aggie” is named for the agatized coral dug from the Florida bedrock that he is painted to represent.  Notice the cutaway sections revealing minerals and crystals like a geode found in nature.  Acrylic paint with protective clear coat on fiberglass frame.

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TRAVELS
Artist Yani Mikedis

Plaque (Travels)

Taking a surreal journey — this is how artist Yani Mikedis describes the creation of Travels.  3-D masked images within shapes and space in colors of greens, yellows and reds on a blue sky that take the imagination through an unforgettable voyage.  Acrylic paint with clear protective clear coat on fiberglass frame.

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WORLD CHAMP
Sharon Crute

WORLD CHAMP

WORLD CHAMP
Sharon Crute

Artist’s Statement (World Champ)

After discussing the design with my sponsor, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, we decided together to illustrate the importance of the thoroughbred industry here in Florida. One side depicts the breeding aspect represented by the beautiful farms throughout Marion County. The other represents the amazing accomplishments of last year’s three Eclipse Award winners: Awesome Feather, Big Drama and Dubai Majesty – all bred in Florida. The flags represent racing in the U.S., Florida and our two sister cities located in Ireland and Italy. The South Korean flag represents the important business relationship involving sales of Florida-breeds to the S. Korean racing program.

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SKY DANCING
Linda Ballantine Brown

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SKY DANCING
Linda Ballantine Brown

Plaque (Sky Dancing)

A race horse dreams of winning in this equine skyscape.  Over 100 horse heads can be seen racing in the clouds all around the horse.  One side features a single horse in a red hood, the other side shows two horses neck and neck as they race together in the clouds.  Acrylic with protective clear coat on fiberglass form.

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SCENIC WONDER
Chris Cruz

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SCENIC WONDER
Chris Cruz

Plaque (Scenic Wonder)

Manatees play on one side. A Florida panther rests quietly on a log among palmettos on the other. Using natural colors found in local sunsets, rivers and forests, the artist paints incredible detail into this scene of north central Florida, where land and water combine to form a unique habitat for wildlife, including ducks, great blue heron, the balkd eagle and alligators. Airbrush with protective clear coat on fiberglass form.

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33 comments on “Ocala Painted Horses

  1. I love the horses! Cincinnati did pigs, yuck, why did we do pigs?

  2. jenyjenny says:

    Beautiful! I lived in Ocala when the horse fever thing was first launched about 12 years ago. At that time, you could buy mini-statues of the horses and mugs with pics of some of the horses in gift shops around town. I got a few of my favorites for birthday gifts. Enjoyed your enthusiasm for it!

    • Thanks, Jenny! I would imagine you can still buy the mini statues, etc. I think the originals are becoming collectibles. There is some real talent. Some of the horses I didn’t get to see but have seen pictures of are gorgeous!

  3. You’ve captured their spirit–well done. Years ago a city nearby started with dinosaurs. It’s escalated into many other animals, which is wonderful art for public places.

  4. gpcox says:

    A magnificent horse country, isn’t it! It’s been so long since I’ve been up that way tho, I’ve never seen these horses – thanks, Linda.

    • If you’re ever in the area, they’re worth checking out. I believe there are now over 50 different horses scattered around the town. I’ve seen pictures of some of the other ones online and they’re so gorgeous and creative! Of course, anything with horses…..! LOL

  5. Flora Poste says:

    I love art projects like these! Cincinnati has artful pigs everywhere (Porkopolis!), Toronto has Moose and I have been in a little town with all artful giant squirrels but I cannot remember the name. Sorry about that…
    Great post and great photos.

  6. These are terrific images Linda-I think my favorite is “Iris” but they all are amazing to see. I love these public art projects-it is amazing the visions artists comes up with for their creations. I have seen bears, mermaids, horses, pigs, and “Jane Does”. A great way to bring art to the everyday!

  7. Sheryl says:

    The horses are great. I think that Iris is my favorite.

  8. ladyfi says:

    Those horses are wonderful – so pretty! And so cheerful to have around town.

    We had some cows like this in Stockholm a few years back as part of an exhibition.

  9. It’s great for the local artists in the various towns, too! I think it’s a great idea that I hope catches on!

  10. monicasicoe says:

    loved the photos! 🙂 have a great day!

  11. Those horses are beautiful!

  12. Michele Botti says:

    Just went to Ocala this past weekend and was disappointed the painted horses are GONE! WHERE DID THEY GO? My daughter loved them so much when we lived there 8 years ago

    • I really hate to hear that. We were just there the end of 2013. I know they auction the horses off. Maybe they just got moved to the new owners’ locations? I’m sure the Chamber of Commerce for Ocala would know. That’s a shame. They were all so beautiful and I thought they added so much. I wonder if they’ll do it again because apparently the ones I photographed were the second ones they’ve had. I do hope they’ll do it again.

  13. pambrittain says:

    I love every single one. Never having heard of this, it was fascinating. Gosh what talent. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • They were beautiful, Pam. These were from the second year of competition. The visitor before you said they recently went to Ocala and all the horses were gone. Bummer. I know they auction them off so maybe the winners moved their horses somewhere. I hope they do it again! 😀

  14. Must be fifteen years now, but last time I was in Lexington, Kentucky, we were thrilled to see painted horses like these all over town. Same situation, they were to be auctioned off for charity, and was marvelous to see how different each horse could be. Such talented artists! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • I grew up in Lex and adore horses (even though my Mom wouldn’t let me take riding lessons or she didn’t want me around them — made it tough for a horse lover!). I didn’t know Lex did the painted horses (left in 1975) but Ocala was always another great thoroughbred place.

  15. Doug says:

    Do you know if the acrylic paint the artists use is just commonly-available tube acrylic paint, or is it something else. The colors look intense.

    • I’m afraid I don’t have an answer but I would think if you were to contact the Ocala, Florida Chamber of Commerce that someone there could either answer it for you or tell you where you can get an answer. Best of luck!

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