Monday, March 06, 2006

Taking Abstract Art Too Far

Horses in Art has the touching tale of Cheryl Ward.

The first warning sign about Ms Ward's mental state comes early:
As fate would have it, my friend called and told me about a few horses that were going to auction that needed homes. One of the horses was a stunning, pony-size gray gelding with a long, black flowing mane and tail with the most mischievous coal black eyes I had ever seen. After he stopped violently kicking the side of his stall, I asked if I could ride him. The owners asked if I had insurance.

Undeterred, and sensing a challenge, she rode him, only to discover that his behaviour under saddle was similar to his behaviour sans saddle:
The moment my seat bones landed on his back he proceeded to glide very smoothly, backwards, at about 90 miles per hour using a clump of oak trees as his brakes.

Nonetheless, "somehow" this horse (now named Romeo) became hers. EoR presumes the "somehow" had something to do with money, but Ms Ward seems coy about this. "Somehow", she saw similar issues to her own:
Ironically, Romeo's issues were quite similar to mine. My father had always disapproved of me pursuing an art career. Romeo had never been given the opportunity to follow his passion either.

Following the path of natural horsemanship and clicker training (very trendy in NH circles and dog training circles, this involves using a toy clicker to "reward" the horse) she trained him to pick up objects (something that could also be done without a clicker).
One day as I was brushing Romeo's thick black mane, I dropped the comb. He politely picked it up and handed it back to me. The comb reminded me of a paint brush. I still had a stash of water-based acrylics and plenty of sketch pads. Romeo's helpful behavior begged the question, "Could a horse paint?"

Well, if a dolphin can marry a human, and balls of light can make crop circles...
Just for kicks, I brought a flat-handled paint brush and a sketch pad to the barn. With the sketch pad under my arm, I handed Romeo the brush. Happily he grabbed it in his teeth and looked at me as if to say "What's next?" I showed him the pad and told him to touch. To my amazement he began running the brush up and down the pad. The next day I added paint, and he's been painting ever since.

So now, by a wonderful example of repressed psychological transference, the artisty forbidden to Ms Ward is expressed via the mediumship (EoR uses the word advisedly) of the horse's "passion" for painting. Of course, it could just be a stimulus/reward response to picking up objects... On the other hand, maybe EoR should be buying up equine masterpieces as part of his investment portfolio...

1 comment:

  1. If the horse starts painting the Moona Lisa or something, then this little trick might be remarkable.

    I will now pun-ish myself with a rolled-up newspaper.

    There is some potential though: Get the horse to make a lot of stuff, and pick out the stuff that happens to follow the principles of art. Kind of Duchampian.


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