Confluence exhibit opens this weekend
Equus is the family of animals that goes from ass to zebra but is most often thought of as the horse. The word itself — equus — is Latin for “horse.” Fittingly, the new exhibit at The Confluence: Art in Twisp is called “Equus” in a tribute to the centuries-old fascination by artists with the magnificent creature. The exhibit opens Saturday (Sept. 2) with an opening reception from 2-5 p.m., and runs through Oct. 7.
The earliest cave painting of horses dates back 30,000 years to what is known as Panel of Four Horses discovered in France’s Chauvet Cave in 1994 by three spelunking friends. The panel is one of the best known, evocative cave art in the world. The painting includes 20 animals, but the heads of the four horses most powerfully engage the viewer, according to James Harris, MD, in his 2011 article “Art and Images in Psychiatry.”
What is it about horses that draws an artist to produce depictions of horses in various mediums including paint, clay, wood, fabric, or metal? That is the question that curators of “Equus” Caryl Campbell and Cheryl Wrangle presented to perspective exhibitors: “Do you admire them for their enduring usefulness and stunning beauty or is it spiritual?” The artists were asked to do work that reflected a “connection” to horses, whether they own horses or just admire them from a distance.
Campbell, who as both a scientist and an artist is inspired by the natural world in her artwork, remembers that her first drawing as a 10-year-old was of a horse. At the time, she had no connection to horses, but has found over time that an initial drawing — especially by little girls — is of a horse.
More than 20 artists
Beautiful, mystical, powerful, spirited, and graceful, the horse appears throughout history in paintings from Napolean Crossing the Alps to Lady Godiva to famous portraits of racehorses such as Whistlejacket and the fearsome Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For the next several weeks, visitors to The Confluence will see horses through the lenses of participating artists.
“Equus” will include works from over 20 regional artists. A sampling of artists and their mediums includes Mary Powell, impressionist oil painter, Janet Fagan, whose art was used for the exhibit’s poster, Dan Brown, metal sculpture, Cheryl Quintana, ceramics, Rod Weagant, workhorses, and Anne Peck, watercolors. Many other artists will depict abstracts, traditional horse heads, and carousel horses.
During the exhibit, local horsewoman and podcast journalist Ashley Ahearn will present her book “The Little Black Mustang Story Time,” that she created along with Catie Michel. She says, “It’s the book I wish I had when I was a kid.” She will also speak of her upcoming podcast series about wild mustangs.
In conjunction with “Equus,” the gallery will host plein air works by Gregg Caudell in its Community Gallery. Gregg describes plein air painting — painting on location — as the “zen of painting” since it captures the subject matter in the moment. Many of his paintings include the beloved horse, including workhorses and horse head portraits. He describes the horse, companion of man, as his inspiration. “An emblem of harmony in a world in dire need of answers.” The mystique of the horse continues in artwork now as it has through history.