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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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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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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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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Sharon Crute


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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Linda Ballantine Brown

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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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Chris Cruz

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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.