2008, I was invited to be on the creative team for a new
mural project being created by Mural
Cadeau du Cheval,
or The Horse Gift. This mural consists of a mother image
that is divided into multiple panels. Each artist was
given a panel to paint using the theme of horses. The
colors and values were to be kept close to the provided
panel, but other than that, the artists had free rein to
create as they pleased. The result is a spectacular
mural, 22 ft. high of a galloping Palomino composed of
over 200 smaller paintings! My panel is just to the right
of the horse's nostril. Here is the theme I chose.
This painting was
inspired by the legend of how the Chincoteague ponies
came to live off the coast of Virginia on the islands of
Chincoteague and Assateague and by the countless
shipwrecks of long ago that might just as easily have set
free other horses who found their way to safety onshore
in the New World.
Five hundred years ago, a
Spanish galleon was caught in a sudden storm off the
eastern coast of the United States and was driven aground
on a shoal. As the ship lay helpless, in sure danger of
breaking apart, the crew abandoned her and the live cargo
below; proud Spanish horses which were to carry the
explorers on their journeys of discovery in the New
World. Battered by the high waves, the hull eventually
broke open in just such a way that it allowed the horses
to break through their stalls and swim for their lives to
Poseidon smiled upon the
horses and caused the waves to carry them safely to land.
It was an exhausting swim, and as the horses emerged from
the surf, sides heaving from the effort, the leader, a
handsome bay stallion, paused to sniff the air, so full
of unfamiliar smells. Carefully he led his new herd
further onto the land where they found lush grass and
fresh water and were happy to be free from the smelly,
dank confines of the ship. The little herd soon felt at
home in this new land and most managed to avoid recapture
by the human survivors of the shipwreck.
Days progressed into
months and then years, and the herd grew, split up and
ventured far inland. Eventually, these early herds were
joined by other horses turned loose by explorers who
returned to the Old World in ships laden too full with
treasures to include the horses. As the horses grew ever
greater in numbers over the centuries, they spread across
the New World from one shore to the other and were
adopted by the native peoples whose lives they changed
forever. Some helped to spread Western civilization
across the land while others remained as wild and free as
the land they first inhabited.
Poseidon, god of the
seas, carried shipload after shipload of horses safely
across the wide seas over the centuries to this new land.
In doing so, he returned the horse to its ancestral home.
For, you see, the horse first evolved on this continent
but had mysteriously vanished from it some eleven
thousand years ago.
This was Poseidon's Gift
to the New World.