Al Zammataro wins the award for biggest fan of Global Horse Culture! Last year he sent me some snapshots from an incredible festival in Sicily, where spectacularly-adorned horses and carts are paraded in celebration of St. Alfio's festival day.
This year, he sent me more photos - taken by a friend of his - with even more detail of the costumes, harnesses, plumes and elaborate carts. There are even puppets acting out legendary battle scenes mounted on the horses!
I posted briefly before about Angela Swedberg, an artist who makes beautiful Plains and Plateau Indian clothing, horse gear, and other items using historically accurate methods and materials. To my delight, Angela is featured in the September 2010 issue of Cowboys & Indians, one of my favorite magazines. The article is from an interview I did with her about her work. Copies are in the stores now: get one if you can, it's a beautiful 2-page spread with lots of photos!
In talking to her for that article I discovered that she is not only an artist, but also a horsewoman. I asked her to tell me about her personal experience with horses, and more about the meaning and function of the fantastic horse masks, such as the horse in the photo above is wearing.
At the Art Institute of Chicago I saw two lovely depictions of donkeys. The first was this fragment from an Egyptian tomb with several donkeys on it. From an artistic perspective I thought this was one of the most beautifully rendered depictions of an animal I've ever seen.
I've always liked the idea of decorated horseshoes, though I've never tried to decorate one myself until recently. These are two shoes from my mare who died over the winter. I decorated them in very different styles.
The first is wrapped in gold-colored ribbon, then wrapped in red thread with coral and turquoise beads here and there. At the bottom I did a larger grouping of turquoise beads. Mostly everything is held in place by the power of string, though there's a touch of glue on the back here and there to help in case the string shifts or stretches:
The next one has red and blue beads glued in the channel on each side, and copper and nickel metal rings strung on thread and wrapped around parts of the shoe. At the bottom I added a piece from a necklace that might have been from Afghanistan originally (long ago disassembled for use in making stuff!), and then added little strings of red beads and cowrie shells to that.
Better yet, I had the pleasure of meeting the woman behind the blog Horse Pollen. We enjoyed the fascinating exhibit together, and additional brainstorming about blogging, horses and social media.
Keep an eye on Horse Pollen for her upcoming post about it. Update: Here it is!
The exhibit continues through July 7, 2011. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The exhibit fills several rooms and the workmanship and creativity in the pieces is inspiring. If you are a beadworker, it is not to be missed! The museum building itself is beautiful and contains several other excellent exhibits and a great gift shop.
If you can't get to the exhibit you can buy the book, which is illustrated with tons of beautiful photos.