Horses as object and icon

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A horse is a horse, until it's more than that.

As Studio Gallery 27 unveils a weeklong show of horse paintings and sculptures, it becomes immediately obvious that horses represent different things to each of the nine featured artists.

¤ Open house for "Born to Be Wild," an exhibit of artwork about horses

¤ Noon to 8 p.m. beginning Saturday

¤ Studio Gallery 27, next to The Tugboat Grill & Pub in Ski Time Square

¤ A portion of proceeds will benefit the Born to Be Wild Mustang Sanctuary in Twin Oaks, Calif.

¤ The five-day exhibit features work by R.C. Dieckhoff, Charley Hart, Michelle Ideus, Janice Lawrence, Cara Ober, Terrance Riley, Susan Schiesser, Jan Willman and Atyrkul Turkmenova. Call 879-6114.

To Craig artist Charley Hart, horses are simply objects of curiosity. His painterly eye wanders from subject to subject, and when he finds something interesting, he puts it down on paper or canvas, he said. It's as simple as that.

Although Hart's work usually involves detailed scenery, the paintings on display at Studio Gallery 27 are stark and simple. He drew horses on white paper. Nothing surrounds them, and even the lines that make up their bodies are relatively minimal.

Hart works on his many projects spread throughout several buildings in Craig. Next to the door of his workshop hangs the word "art."

"Art is a big part of my life," he said. "I got interested in art because I like Charlie Russell's (Western art)."

Through art, Hart found, he could express things he couldn't say with words.

Standing nearby Hart's simple gauche and charcoal horses are the 30-inch ceramic sculptures of stylized horses by Steamboat artist Jan Willman.

Willman's horses are thin and tall and with compositions as simple as a line drawing. It took Willman almost a decade of walking away and returning to the horses to perfect the process. Trying to fire a piece of clay that is almost 3 feet tall without the help of an armature is a challenge that requires the right materials and the correct proportions of weight and thickness.

Once the process was in place, she could play with form.

Willman chose horses as her subject because of the complex relationship the animals share with man.

"That relationship goes back to the beginning," Willman said. "Horses can look into your soul. They represent to me power and grace and gentleness and the contrast in those things."

The lines in Willman's pieces contain an incredible amount of movement for a static object.

"Nothing in life occurs without movement," Willman said. "If you've ever watched horses, even when they are standing still, they're active. I try to create that energy in every piece."

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