One of the great pleasures of attending the Spring Horse Shows and American Gold Cup every year at Old Salem Farm in North Salem is the chance to stroll along the related stalls of vendors, stopping to chat, listen to their stories and see their wares. WAG has rounded up a quartet of artists whose soulful portraits of horses and dogs we particularly enjoyed at last year’s Gold Cup:
Georjean Busha Hertzwig
Studio: Pawling, N.Y.
Media: Bronze, oil and pastel
Background: For a quarter of a century, Hertzwig has been capturing farm and show animals in bronze, adding painted portraits in 2005. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from The Chronicle of the Horse to Bedford Magazine. Meanwhile, photographs of her working champion Australian Shepherds — with whom she lives, along with three cats, on a 12-acre farm in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains — have graced a cover of Life and the book “A Celebration of Rare Breeds.” Not surprisingly, this hall of fame breeder’s work has also appeared in a number of publications about Australian Shepherds. In 2009, she received The Art Spirit Foundation/Dianne B. Bernhard Gold Medal Award for Excellence for “Ken’s Bucky,” a rare honor for a canine portrait. (It was a commissioned pastel of an Australian Shepherd.)
Hertzwig’s website notes that her knowledge of animal anatomy has played a critical role in her art. She continues to study with a local animal illustrator and will soon be embarking on a new commission to serve as sculptor for a Hawaiian hotel in 2016.
Artist’s statement: “Seeing everything as beautiful as an artist, I am granted the gift of allowing the energy of a moment to express itself in a way that lives beyond itself. Color, line, composition all combine to reveal the soul of nature, uncovering its inner beauty. Thus can the dance that is life be frozen in time. It is my joy to create forms that invite those who witness them to move through the portrayed moment into the timeless and boundless realm of eternity.”
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Studio: Millerton, N.Y.
Media: Bronze, clay and pastel
Background: Kauffman is known for her portraits of two-legged as well as four-legged creatures, including cattle, deer and llamas, completing more than 75 commissions in bronze. As her website notes, the many hours she spends working on each wax or clay sculpture before creating a mold for casting afford her the attention to detail necessary to render “the soul of a subject.”
Recently, she illustrated two published books — Anne McIntosh’s “The Fox’s Morning” and Jessi Trotta McQuilkin’s “Clayton in the Moonlight.” She studied at (the now-defunct) Bennett College in Millbrook and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and is keen to do portraits of children and pets. Kauffman will be participating in the second week of the Spring Horse Shows and at the American Gold Cup.
Artist’s statement: “My inspiration evolves by tapping into that emotional quality that moves the spirit of my subject. If I get lost, I persist and stay with it. Something always manifests itself. I just keep my faith in the process.”
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Medium: Metal sculpture
Background: Landon grew up in New York City, the son of a French violinmaker and his Dutch wife, and the grandson of an equine veterinarian and equestrian who was a colonel in the French army during the Algerian war. Horseback riding, then, and craftsmanship were part of his life at an early age. “Being around horses and riding, truly a great amount of work, has become an irreplaceable part of my life,” notes Landon, who has spent summers riding and playing polo in Middletown and Patterson, N.Y. Landon explored industrial design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, traveled throughout the American West, then studied metal sculpture with Cliff Dufton at The Arts Students League of New York in Manhattan.
Artist’s statement: “It’s all about the process, the work, about manipulating, forming, shaping the material, putting my energy into it, my force, my sweat, using my hands and my body to wrestle wth metal, and making sure people can see that. I want people to see and understand what it took to make it, to notice hints of the process, to see that the material has been sculpted and that the piece was made by hand, by me. I feel that this is where the true value of the work comes from.
“Metal, steel in particular, is my main medium, as it is the best candidate for me to satisfy these needs. It is an ultimate material in its formability (forge-ability) and universality and owns a very special range of colors and textures. There is an inextinguishable curiosity that I can continually satisfy in sculpting and pounding metal, stretching it until it rips, taking it to ever larger scales, feeling the essence of the material and taking it to its limits.”
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Jocelyn Sandor Urban
Studio: Georgetown, Conn.
Media: Drawing and painting
Background: Urban’s art training began in childhood with her father and grandmother. Formally, she holds a bachelor of science degree in fine art from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. and a
master of fine arts degree in printmaking from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After graduate school, she exhibited her landscape woodcut prints in galleries in New York, Boston and Chicago, but she also took her animal portraits to horse and dog shows, which led to commissions. Her work is in many private and corporate collections, and she plans on exhibiting once more at the Gold Cup as well as the Spring Horse Shows at Old Salem Farm.
In 1990, Urban and her veterinarian-husband, Richard B. Urban, created Fursure Enterprises, a company with a line of humorous equine greeting cards still found in tack and saddlery shops in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The line also includes Christmas cards and cards with dog portraits.
Artist’s statement: “I try to capture the soul of each animal I draw or paint. Each one is different. Each has its own story. A drawing can emphasize important aspects of the look of an animal in ways a photo cannot. An accurate, sensitive representation of a subject in an interesting composition is my goal.
“Horses and dogs have been a part of my life since childhood and have always been subject matter for my artwork. Life with animals is an important part of human existence, and I feel it is my job to document these beautiful creatures. I have been fortunate to have met thousands of horses and dogs as well as their owners, who have given me the opportunity to create this body of work.”