Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 2
Equine inspirationThe Lompoc Museum presents an exhibition by three local artists inspired by our neighing, champing, and trotting friends
BY JOE PAYNE
Out of all of our four-legged companions, horses enjoy a special place in history. Before the advent of the automobile, they were the predominant form of transport, leading the charge of westward expansion and helping tame the landscape we now call home. The Lompoc Museum is presenting a show that highlights local equines through the work of three artists.
Watercolor painter Julia Rodgers and photographers Debby Fuller and Jane Kametani make up the show “Horse Country,” showing in the Lompoc Museum’s Centeno Gallery. Rodgers was initially approached to do the show, and she contacted the two photographers to join her.
“The name ‘Horse Country’ just came to me, because I have these two friends who are photographers and love horses,” she said. “It has a little something for everybody. Jane’s style is very crisp, Debby’s work is abstract, and I have been told my work is ‘whimsical.’”
The trio—all members of the Lompoc Valley Art Association—has connected over horses for years, sharing favorite local spots where beautiful and friendly creatures may be found.
“We troll around the Central Coast looking,” Rodgers said, “because there are horses everywhere, and I am always looking for young newborns that are testing their speed.”
Equestrian art is an old tradition that draws on themes from the animals themselves. Movement is one such theme that Rodgers’ style of painting reflects.
“The reason I do watercolor is that it’s fast, and I like to paint fast,” she said. “It’s called gesture drawing; you sort of paint maybe for like one or two minutes, and you get the feeling or the gesture of the animal.”
Though both Kametani and Fuller are photographers, their stylistic approaches vary widely. Kametani aims at capturing a crisp definition of a moment, whereas Fuller may employ the use of digital effects to elicit a feeling or certain look.
“I’ve never been afraid of horses,” Kametani said, “because whenever I approach a field and the horses are in the middle of the field, they are so sociable that they will actually come to the fence where I am at and be really friendly.”
Kametani knows several locals who own horses, but also isn’t afraid of approaching a stranger about photographing his or her animals. Most horse owners are quite open and facilitating, she explained.
“Well, everything they say about horses is true,” she said. “They are magnificent animals, animals of beauty, and I try to capture that.”
Kametani’s photos include several local horses, including Icelandic breeds that live at a private residence in Orcutt.
“I’ll photograph anything,” she said, “but it seems that some of my best subjects are Icelandic horses; they are kind of short and stout and have really thick hair.”
Not all the equines in the exhibit are saddle-bearing show ponies; some of them are on the wild side. Fuller will be including several photographs she took during a visit to the Return to Freedom wild horse sanctuary in Lompoc.
“The wild horses seem a bit smaller and their fur seems to be a bit longer,” she said. “But they are wild; they don’t want to come up to you. They might like to come up to the people who work there, but I had them running.”
Fuller, who’s known among the group as the one with a whinnying ring tone on her cell phone, isn’t afraid to walk into a field full of horses to get the perfect shot. While the size and strength of the animals might scare some artists off, she appreciates those attributes.
“I love the power and beauty of them,” she said. “They are just so beautiful with their long manes and tails, and they come in all colors, so you never know what you are going to see.”
Part of the allure of any wildlife photography or painting is the hunt for the perfect subject, and then the perfect pose. Whether sketched and admired from a distance, or up close and personal, the animals provide ample amounts of inspiration.
“I’d rather photograph animals—whether cats, dogs, or horses—rather than people,” Kametani said. “It takes a lot more patience, because I have to photograph an animal when it’s ready. So I just keep following and stalking, waiting for when it’s the right time.”
Arts Editor Joe Payne is champing at the bit. Contact him at email@example.com.