A Public Adventure in Public Art:
The Trail of The Painted Ponies
By E. D. MalpassSuper Charger by Rod Barker, 2006
In recent decades, art has moved uptown, downtown, and even outdoors in the United States. In the process, it often has, more and more, left the hushed corridors of mansions, the murmurs of elegant auctions houses and the stately palaces of national institutions to mingle with the public informally and in fun. Indeed, the very term, Public Art, has taken on a festive, vibrant, often joyous meaning. It is very different from somber, often staid, officially designated ART or the vaguely raucous, mildly shocking commercial genre. Public art speaks to and for the people in a unique and unifying way. Like a large family reunion, a once a year small town carnival or a Cadillac Ranch, Public Art is a celebration. Thus, The Trail of Painted Ponies Art Gallery is Clio's gift for this year to historians, as well as to art and book lovers around the world. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Much public art begins with an idea or a concept which local government cannot afford to fund totally if at all. Quite often such projects involve an effort to support cultural efforts; almost always in America these become subject to intense debate and to low priorities in budget structures. At the turn of the millennium in Santa Fe, New Mexico, such an effort came from a few dedicated leaders and artists as well as a public somewhat in regional isolation, but eager to explore and enlarge cultural horizons. The result was The Trail of Painted Ponies.Cloudhunter by Janee Hughes, 2016
What began in 2001 as a public art project to celebrate the artistic heritage of the region, promote tourism, and raise funds for future cultural events became suddenly a movement that continues to grow. Today, it attracts professional artists and creative amateurs from the entire world. Inspired by Founder Rod Barker, the original request to submit designs to be painted onto life size mannequins of horses proved wildly successful and visually stunning. The Westerner's iconic symbol, the horse, proved as innovative as the use of canvas in the Renaissance, and was only limited by the human imagination. The original show toured the state attracting thousands of viewers to a new concept of the relationship between creativity, regional history, and the public perception of the importance of art as a unifying feature of everyday life in America.Sky of Enchantment by Ilse Magener, 2004
Not surprisingly, great art created great business. In the past decade and a half, the reproduction of the original works have turned into some of the most popular collectables in America, including new, small horses released twice a year as ceramic or resin copies, as well as lamps, mugs, and tourist souvenirs. At present, over a million dollars has been donated to various philanthropic organizations. The artists who submit work and compete annually to become part of The Trail of Painted Ponies are scattered throughout the globe and their designs reflect the universe of the twenty-first century. The ponies strut with paintings by artists depicting ancient hunters and their horses in the caves of France to the celestial horses of the zodiacs of mythology. From the Christmas horses to the Fourth of July, from the tribes of Mongolia to the western frontiers of the United States, the painted ponies remind us that the communal sharing of public art, when it is rooted in a rich, diverse and beloved past, always makes splendid history.
Recommended Reading: Rod Barker, Trail of Painted Ponies Collector's Edition, 2004
Ali MacGraw, Trail of the Painted Pony; Book and PBS Documentary
Ride the Sky ~ Wisdom ~ Inspiration, 2007
The Trail of Painted Ponies Anniversary Edition, From Fine Art to collectibles, 2008
A Painted Ponies Christmas, Classic Christmas Greetings, 2010