Two “Spirit of the Horse” exhibitions
Through July 6, 2008
Artists’ Reception:  Friday, June 6, 5-8pm

5504 West Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, California 90275-4998
Contact:  Scott Canty, Exhibitions Director
310.541.2479, FAX (310) 541-9520
Web site,
Public hours, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; and 1 – 4 p.m. Sundays.

Kireilyn Barber, “Scene 12” from the series “Love Me… Lead Me…,” digital C prints with plexiglas / sintraboard, 48 x 48 inches.


Two exhibitions—one invitational and one juried—honoring the Spirit of the Horse open June 6, 2008, at the Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes. The free exhibitions, which are being held in conjunction with the Portuguese Bend Pony Club, will run through July 6 (except July 4) and be open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 – 4 p.m. Sundays.

There will be a reception honoring the artists from 5 – 8 p.m. Friday, June 6.

For thousands of years, men and horses have been a team, originally out of necessity but more recently from desire. One of the most economically important of domesticated animals, the horse has played important roles in agriculture, transportation and warfare. And as the horse’s economic importance declined, its leisure and sporting value rose.

With the lives of men and horses so entwined, it is not surprising that artists have been depicting these noble, multi-talented animals through the ages. From the earliest European cave paintings to the present day, man has drawn, painted, sculpted and photographed the horse at work, play and leisure, capturing its grace, beauty and spirit.  

In the invitational portion of the Spirit of the Horse, painter Gunnar Ahmer, sculptors Cinthia Joyce and Michael Stutz and photographers Kireilyn Barber and Elissa Kline have used their respective media to capture the spirit and the very essence of this beautiful animal. Scott Canty, the Art Center’s exhibitions director, and Peggy Zask, representing the Pony Club, are curators for the exhibition.

With tremendous patience and persistence, Elissa Kline focused her camera lenses on the proud and self-sufficient wild horses of Idaho, capturing their family life and connections over a period of four years. Her gallery installation features life-size images of the animals on free-hanging scrims, permitting the viewer to walk amid them, as if in a herd roaming the wild grasslands.

Kireilyn Barber, on the other hand, takes photos of miniature plastic horses given as birthday party favors in “highly animated and contrived yet appealing tableaus.” Serving as “stand-ins for humanity,” her horses—ambiguous as to gender, age and identity—“bicker, romance, compete, explore and play out their ambitions and insecurities,” allowing viewers to contemplate their own biases and perceptions as they analyze the nature of the characters’ relationships.

Gunnar Ahmer’s horse portraits are classically-inspired, large scale oil paintings on canvas. “Horses have always been an important part of my life, and I never tire in trying to capture their essence, beauty, strength and mystery,” he writes.

Sculptor Cinthia Joyce, who grew up with horses in Malibu, now uses bronze to capture horses in motion—unharnessed, prancing and savoring their freedom. Their manes flow, their forelegs wave and their muscles bulge in dramatic poses.

In contrast, Michael Stutz’ 10-foot tall horse sculpture is a static figure, woven of strips of cardboard, but no less majestic for its prosaic medium. He writes: “I explore the dichotomies between permanent and impermanent, public and private, external and internal, to create an intimate and humane ideal. Light plays through the latticed forms of the woven sculptures, blending line, movement, time and the body.”

The juried portion of the exhibition, selected by juror Marshall Astor, visual art director of Angels Gate Cultural Center, features a wide variety of equine art from portraits of favorite steeds to paintings of horses at work to abstract ceramic models to necklaces with horse pendants.

Endlessly Playful, a ceramic sculpture by Carol Ann Klimek, took first place. Standing Tall, a photograph by Margaret Burnett, received the second place award, and Takhi Stallion and Mare, an oil painting by Susan Fox, third. Honorable mentions were given to Charlotte Moore for her watercolor Jennah’s Pony and Peggy Zask for a stoneware sculpture White 3.

Located in Rancho Palos Verdes, the Portuguese Bend Pony Club, a non-profit affiliate of the United States Pony Club, Inc., provides its youth members with quality riding instruction, “hands-on” horse care and management and the opportunity to participate in competitive equestrian events, including dressage, cross-country riding and show jumping. This is the third year that it has sponsored a Spirit of the Horse art competition and exhibition.

The Palos Verdes Art Center, a non-profit community organization, has served the South Bay with visual arts exhibition, education and outreach programs since 1931. For more information about Spirit of the Horse or other Art Center programs, call (310) 541-2479.

Return to Gallery Pages