Hooked on Horses
Artists see equine subjects as symbols of West, freedom, spirit
(page 5 of 6)
By concentrating on the paint itself and the landscape as subject, Waddell reveals an aspect of horses we can’t experience from directly representational art. Because horses in a Waddell painting often blend in with the landscape, the viewer is invited, via our connection with horses, to enter the landscape as if we, too, were part of nature.
Sculptor John Mortensen says the connection between humans and horses is ingrained in our history.
“The horse has long been a partner with man in his quest for survival and celebration of spirit,” Mortensen said. “A piece of art depicting horses can be a touchtone to the horse’s realm.”
Mortensen grew up with horses. In fact, he was on horseback before he could walk. His father was a horseman and owned a tack shop in Salt Lake City. He sketched and modeled horses in clay from a young age.
A self-taught sculptor and resident of Wilson, Mortensen is a sought-after artist across the west. His outdoor sculptures can be seen at Walt Disney World, Grand Teton Lodge Company, Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, as well as in the permanent collections of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and the Springville Art Museum.
Mortensen says that people often see the personification of themselves and their emotions in horses.
“My piece, ‘Silent Saddles,’ commissioned by the American Legion Hall here in Jackson, represents all who have served our country from our ranching community,” Mortensen said. “The strength, steadfastness and burden of this service are reflected in the piece.”
Where painters and photographers must work in two dimensions, Mortensen says sculpture allows an artist to fully express a horse’s animation and spirit. Mortensen uses the lost-wax casting process to create his bronze sculptures. This ancient practice involves many intricate steps from clay model to latex mold to wax copy to bronze.