Artist Creates a Horse of Steel

How do you build a 1900 pound replica of a horse, using only recycled steel materials? Through the words elegance, quality and form, describes Chris McConnell, a senior student at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

“I used all recycled materials, that I found in a junkyard. All the steel that is used in the work is very thick giving it the ability to last over a 100 years outside, and if treated perhaps longer. All the steel was bent by hand forming its contour and parallel lines,” says McConnell.

“The decision of style and aesthetics of the spacing and organization of the steel was a big part of the work as well.”

For the last three years, McConnell has been studying Asian philosophies and culture. He feels the figure relates to Taoist’s belief of space as a second dimension.

“Also the work seems lighter with the gaps giving it a faster feel. Weight distribution was also a major concern for me.”

McConnell asked himself during construction, how to place the materials to replicate the fluent, dynamic and natural feel of a horse.

“In doing so, the horse (sculpture) has what we call in the fine-arts world, a contrapposto.”

“The materials that I used were selected very special for this work. I did not want to show many known parts.”

To avoid the feeling that comes from obvious ‘recycled art’, McConnell explains he used steel as a medium to create the sculpture and erase the material’s association with its’ previous function.

“Some of the parts used were a propane tank, truck leaf springs, truck drive shaft swivel, three air tanks, re-bar, implements from tractors, as well as many different sized pipes.”

By relating to the words elegance, quality and form he feels that the contour line, has become most important in this work.

“The line works in a dynamic way – to show direction and muscle mass.”

This piece is a combination of the artist’s interest in Green Works (sculptures made from recycled products) and the form he was drawn to, in the a neighbor’s saddle bred horse. The 16.5 HH structure took four months, from construct to installation, and was placed last fall at the four star Red Maple Inn, in Burton Ohio.

10 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

If you missed last week’s great Christmas gift idea – the beautiful Kim Taylor On The Trail day planner, I have a new gorgeous idea for you today.

This week’s great Christmas gift idea is beautiful handcrafted Mara pottery. The sculptor Mara designed many pieces of pottery over her lifetime; you can read more about her here. Studying with world’s greatest modern artists, Mara developed and mastered the difficult technique of precise line drawing in ceramics.

I happened upon Mara pottery at the Canadian Supreme Western Lifestyle Marketplace a few weeks ago.

I’m not one for factory-made, so I was immediately drawn by the fact that each piece of Mara pottery is engraved and painted by hand, a tradition her family carries out in her name.

These gorgeous pieces are both contemporary and rustic. Love them.

A milk jug, but could also function as a wine decanter.

This is another of Mara’s designs – coyote cactus – which I think would work well with the horse set I already purchased.

I want to share this beautiful pottery, so I’m giving one of my newly purchased and unused pieces away! I haven’t decided which I can part with yet, but while I agonize over that choice, let us know in the Comment section below, who you have the most difficult time purchasing a Christmas gift for. You don’t have to name your giftee specifically, but can retain them some anonymity with a nickname, if you prefer. Contest closes Friday, Nov. 11 at midnight.

2012 CS Centennial Artist


The Calgary Stampede is pleased to announce the artist who has been chosen to create the historic 2012 Centennial Artwork and Poster. Harley Brown is one of the most respected and recognized artists in the world. Brown, a native Albertan who now resides in Tucson, Arizona, is a western painter and sculptor of figures and domestic animals. It’s believed the poster, created from Brown’s original artwork will be one of the most sought after posters in Stampede history and will be seen in every corner of the earth.

His father was an amateur artist who encouraged his young son from age seven to pursue art. After graduation from high school, young Brown began doing department store window displays for an impressive $150 a month. He then attended the Alberta College of Art and later the Camberwell School of Art in London, England. He has received numerous awards and gold medals for his art and is an honoured member of both the Cowboy Artists of America and the Prix De West.

“When I was a kid, I didn’t think the Calgary Stampede could get any bigger or better,” says Brown. “By the end of each year’s Stampede, I was left speechless and breathless, and amazed at how fresh and vital they made each new Stampede. I wanted to create a piece that reflected a Stampede that will truly see no end. It is one of the traditions of North America that has such great meaning for all of us. This painting came quite naturally when I reflected on how to capture the past, present and future of this great event on canvas. When I create a piece, I want the work to come alive so I can feel the composition.”

Many factors were considered when choosing the artist to commemorate the Calgary Stampede’s Centennial. The works of several well-known artists were also reviewed. Ultimately, Brown was selected to create the art which will represent the 2012 Calgary Stampede to not only in Calgary, but around the world.

“We are extremely honoured to have the 2012 Calgary Stampede Centennial poster created by a Calgary artist who is a world renowned talent,” says Michael Casey, president and chairman of the board, Calgary Stampede. “His paintings demonstrate his pure talent, heart and love of his subject matter. His portraits are haunting, vibrant and beautiful works of art that touch our souls. We are very fortunate to have Harley be part of our 100 year celebration.”

In anticipation of extraordinary interest, the original artwork will be revealed at an unprecedented unveiling on Wednesday, July 6 and auctioned at the Western Art Auction Thursday, July 14. Western art has been a component of the Stampede from the very beginning – the first Stampede poster in 1912 featured art by Charlie Russell. Since the early 1980s, the Stampede has included a live auction of the best in contemporary and historical western art.

For more information, contact Jennifer Booth, Publicity Manager, at 403-261-0327, or [email protected]

Pencil Strokes & the Western Way

Hello Folks! Today I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce to you, a young and talented friend of mine. Recently, she opened up her portfolio to us in candid conversation and we were shocked at what we saw.

Lacey McKelvie, age 20, originally hails from British Columbia. And at the tender age of 4, began dabbling in the arts. Of course, her skill would take a while to develop and it would be a few years before Lacey really began to pursue her love of drawing, but with determined persistence and an natural ability to capture perspective, Lacey’s skills developed to what we see here in “Hickory”:

Preferring to use only pencil, Lacey’s talent for defining and shading is so precise, some of her pieces end up appearing as though they are done in charcoals.

Lacey finds inspiration in the western lifestyle. She has been asked on occasion, if there is anything else that may appeal to her, for her artwork. But it’s the western way of life that has truly instilled her values and helped to shape the person she has become.

In and amongst the fence posts, horses and cattle, Lacey says she “…find[s] a lot of beauty everywhere I look.”

So why would she want to change that?

One thing she would like to strive to capture more of however, is emotion, within her individual pieces. As seen in the following “Cow, Calf Pair” piece, Lacey says this picture is one of her favorites because of the bond and love that shows so passionately through from the mother to her calf.

When she is not drawing horses, Lacey is often sitting aboard one. She lives by the motto, “If you don’t think you can handle a girl who can rope and ride, you’re probably right!” But don’t paint her with a saucy brush, because Lacey is one of the kindest people you may ever have the pleasure of meeting. Another of her favorite quotations is, “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

Often the horses or animals showcased in Lacey’s pieces are actual animals that Lacey or her boyfriend, Corey, own. But sometimes, she takes on the odd commissioned piece as well. If you have a special picture you’d like to immortalize in art, Lacey’s email contact is:  [email protected]

12 Weeks ’til Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

It snowed today at the log house. A significant amount. Enough to scrap off the deck.

Alright, I didn’t, but I could have.

Instead, the snow reminded me of this idea stewing in the back of my brain for a 12 weeks ’til Christmas series on Screen Doors & Saddles, with my best shot at the most unique gift ideas for y’all I could think of. Equus-related of course.

Problem is we’re nine weeks and a bit from Christmas today.

All I can offer is “what the hey?”

Like where did October go?

I know you’re with me on that. So, I’m going to do this thing regardless. Just do it. I’ll throw in the missing weeks here and there. Try and keep up with me.

To rocket this series off in high fashion, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite books; a compilation which I guarantee would be an incredible addition to any horseperson’s library. Technically, Horses, by French photographer, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, might be categorized as a horse breeds book, but it is anything but an A-Z encyclopedia. It’s more like a cornucopia, actually a gallop, indeed a full-out stampede in the greatest of glory, riddled with richness, lavishness and incredible depth and diversity.

If there were an America’s Next Top Horse Model television series, Arthus-Bertrand would be Nigel Barker. Renowned photographer, with an incredible eye for capturing the essence and true beauty of the equine.

I give you the forthcoming cover of Italian Vogue.

Arthus-Bertrand travelled the earth and eventually completed a 15 year project of photographing animals, horses among them, against a plain backdrop, treating his subjects more as models than animals. The result is the photographic captivation of horses that are not only a departure of the four-square traditional profile shot, but animated beyond belief, even surreal at times, and in all cases, most definitely alive with the spirit of the equus.

It is a collection you cannot help but fall in love with.

I gaze through this book and stand in complete awe. Of the connections we hold with the people of the world. Of the history of the world. Of my horses, and all they represent. This book brings all of it crashing into my little corner of the world.

Majestic is a word often over-used as a descriptor of the horse. Here it stands true.

While the breeds we are most familiar with are represented, it is the stunning photos of horses from the most far-flung regions of the world which most capture my heart. Not to mention their incredible handlers.

For instance, this beauty.

This bold, magnificent pair.

Meet the Bashkirsky mare, Anessa, a mare whose pedigree dates back to one of Leo Tolstoy’s stud farms. An ardent breeder, the Russian author crossed English horses and Russian trotters with an original Cossack breed of Russian pony called the Bashkirsky. This award winning descendant is presented with foal at foot, guided by her breeder, who carries on her arm, a bucket of koumiss (a slightly fermented milk, and highly prized drink, which was once considered on the level of a magic potion.)

Consider these matching beauties.

A prized pony!

These are the heavy horses. In all their glory. The handler, in all of hers. And wearing dress slippers! Bravo!

Yes, the glorious Shires.

More ponies!

The true hunters.

And jumpers.

Cowboys and their mounts are liberally represented. As are a Canadian western horse breeder couple. But, I won’t spoil that for you by previewing it here.

The Argentina section enthralled me, including the stunning athletic sleekness of this polo horse.

And this breathtaking shot – an Argentine Criollo cow horse, with his trainer.

I love this book so much, and I’m happy to share it with you. But, if you’d like your own copy, we added it to the Western Horse Review store, for your convenience, if you wish to order. Or, you can find it at the usual online outlets such as Amazon.

By the way, Yann Arthus-Bertrand didn’t reserve his camera for only the equine. For you cattlemen and women there is a book of livestock as well with such specimens as this magnificent bull . . .

and this belle.

I refer to the Jersey, not handler.


Bowl Art

If the walls of your home are as overflowing with artwork as mine, artist Shannon Lawlor has devised the perfect solution for you and I. Shelf art. Or, desk art. Or, table art. Dinner art. Living quarters art. In fact, any horizontal flat surface art.

Yeah, that’s it.

Beautiful bowls. Gorgeous bowls.

Bowls which are not only knockout works of art themselves, but also usable and enjoyable as serving dishes.

I love this turquoise hue with its exquisite fence-sitter characters.

The ultra-Texas longhorn – this one blows the doors off any mass-produced version, don’t you think?

This brilliant bright orange is one of my favorites.

A whimsical piece, elegant and subtle.

Flamboyantly wild west, this would fit many a western-styled dinner party.

A similar themed piece, with vintage appeal.

Bowls are $125.00 each. Display easel can also be purchased for $40.00. Visit Shannon Lawlor Fine Art for more information.

Better yet, head down and visit Shannon personally at this coming weekend’s Canadian Supreme Western Lifestyle Show.

Of course, we’ll be there as well at the Western Horse Review booth so be sure to come by, pick up the latest copy, and visit for a bit.

Art & Music & the Equine

There are plenty of reasons to attend the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, set to officially kick off tomorrow, Sept. 25 until October 10, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, among them:

1)    Kentucky

2)    Canadian reiners competing on a world stage

3)    Thoroughbred farms

4)    Gorgeous horses

5)    Kentucky

Did I mention that already? Over the weekend, I discovered another reason. The HORSETAILS 2010 art exhibit, which marries three of my favorite passions – music, art and the equine. An incredibly insightful idea. Fifty-two artists were chosen and each given a small replica of a violin and a bow. The bond is naturally the string. For centuries, horsetail hairs have been strung across the bow, a characteristic unique to string instruments.

Horse racing aficionados, you might remember Bernardini, sired by A.P. Indy in 2003, with a pedigree that includes Seattle Slew and Secretariat. Bernardini won six of his eight career starts and amassed over $3 million in earnings, before retiring to stud. His first foal crop arrived in 2009, and yes, that is his tail hair. Painted by Joanne Mehl.

One of my favorites, Lucilla II, by Helene Steene, tail hair donated by owner Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.

And finally, Doc, the champion vaulting horse and quite possibly the only Belgian ever to compete in the history of the World Equestrian Games, donated a few of his tail feathers for this piece by Steve Armstrong.

HORSETAILS 2010 is a unique and exquisite way to visually appreciate the bond between the horse and orchestral music. Visit and meander through all of the pieces of stunning and charming violin art up for sale. Give yourself a moment and really appreciate it.

Rodeos, Picture Shows & Pumpkins

It’s promising to be a fantastic weekend.

Tonight Teenager plays in a volleyball tournament, which is a treat in itself, made all the more sweet with the fact that there is a farmer’s market across the street from it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been so busy this summer, I’ve barely had a chance to enjoy our own strawberry and raspberry patch, never mind hit a farmer’s market and partake in all the local seasonal goods. I’m totally looking forward to this evening. Shoutin’ out and stocking up.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, I have the pleasure of attending the Catherine Pearson Charity Rodeo to gasp, grin and just generally cheer on my nephew, David, as he tries his hand at steer riding for his first time ever. He’s a city kid. Timid, vulnerable, nerdy, a bookworm, pale. You know the type. I’m very, very afraid for him.

Just kidding, he’s none of the above. Okay, he can be a bit of a nerd, but I cherish him in spite of it. Mostly, he’s a freaky fanatic for outdoor sports, and anything extreme. I hope he’ll be fine. Either way, I’m catching it on film and I’ll update ya’all next week.

Alternatively . . . if you haven’t any plans, and you’re anywhere in the vicinity, dust off your boots, and come and join us. It’s going to be so much fun. And for such a great personal cause close to the Pearson familys’ hearts. Can’t wait.

After two crazy days of human contact I would definitely be whipped enough to just to hang out at home by Day Three, but this weekend, I might have to spin those tires down the gravel road one more time, as I only just learned our friend, and fabulous photographer Neville Palmer, along with his friend, and country music recording artist, George Canyon, have collaborated on a unique photography project. I didn’t even know George Canyon was a photographer, did you? Like, where have I been?

What I do know is Neville is an amazing photographer. He sent this over to remind me.

As if I needed reminding. I met Neville when we contracted him as lead photographer for our 2008 Western Horse Review fashion photo shoot. We found out then how outrageously talented he is.

Another teaser, this one entitled, Wild Horses.

I’m instructed to let you know these two pieces will be in the exhibition. The photography will be showcased in the form of a picture show at Carlsons On Macleod in High River – a great venue for artists and musicians alike. A final topper – it will be the first time George will show his photography in a public setting and it will be the first time that Neville will be showing a personal project that has been five years in the making. How cool is that? Yeah, I know, I am totally stating the obvious.

If you happen to reside or are spending time in southern Alberta this weekend, be sure to take in one or both of these events. Heck, they are less than two hours apart, so unless you have a horse show and need to compete cause you’re hunting for a year-end buckle, I really cannot fathom an excuse.

Details and times for the picture show below. Shows are on the hour, as per the timeframes below. Thanks so much for checking in with Screen Doors & Saddles today, I so appreciate that, and have a great weekend.

P.S. Are you diggin’ the western vintage feel of this poster as much as I am?

Ghost Rider

I was browsing through the shortlist of design entries at the Seoul Cycle Design Competition 2010 (what can I say, activities like this rock my lunch hour), and I came across this incredibly nifty bike-horse design by Korean artist Eungi Kim.

What with Christmas around the corner. Did I just write that? Seriously, ignore that statement. What with Christmas at least another few months away, I’m really hoping this makes it to the marketplace. What a terrific way to transform a city-bound, but horse crazy kid’s need for speed into a very cool reality!