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Louisville’s Gallopalooza

Kentucky Life visits Gallopalooza, Louisville’s horse-themed public art project, and talks with artists about the inspiration behind their designs.

Gallopalooza immediately became one of Louisville’s most popular art attractions when it debuted in 2004, and the community venture has only grown in popularity since then. The nonprofit behind Gallopalooza organized a 2009 renewal, and then last year enlisted a bevy of talented area artists to decorate fiberglass creations according to the theme of “Bridles and Bourbon.”

Lynn Huffman, executive director for Gallopalooza Inc., says that the organization supports community beautification in two ways. First, they place public art statues at various street locales around Louisville. Then, they sell those statues to raise money for permanent beautification projects, such as the lighting for the popular Big Four pedestrian bridge across the Ohio River that links Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind.

The “Bridles and Bourbon” art project features three fiberglass designs: a large horse similar to the designs of previous Gallopaloozas; a horse standing on a bourbon barrel; and a six-foot mint julep cup.

“Well, the 2015 theme of ‘Bridles and Bourbon’ came about because we had done horses in the past, and people loved them,” Huffman says. “However, we wanted to try something new, and with all that’s going on with the nationwide craze – the world craze really – about bourbon right now, and how Louisville is becoming kind of the hub or the gateway into bourbon country, we wanted to pay tribute to that.”

Local artist Dan Colon was commissioned to create a painted horse that reflects the history of one of Louisville’s new businesses, the Australian company Computershare. Colon and fellow artist Pam Stockard show how they incorporated paintings of the Australian outback, Aboriginal artifacts, and marine life from the Great Barrier Reef into the design.

Two other horses designed by Colon and sponsored by Thorntons Food Mart reflect his own interests. One is a Beatles tribute, and the other is a tribute to veterans who have lost limbs in combat. The fiberglass horse wears a saddle cloth reading “No Less a Thoroughbred” and features one prosthetic leg.

“People who see this horse, they are going to take pause, and they are going to find what it means to them, in their own minds,” Colon says. “…It means what it means to every individual who looks at it.”

Another prominent Louisville artist, Andre Foreman, was commissioned to design a horse and barrel for storied local distiller Brown-Forman. His concept pays tribute to the painstaking distilling process and to Brown-Forman’s local influence and international reach. Local landmarks such as the Old Forester Water Tower and Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires are artistically rendered, and on the fiberglass barrel, Foreman’s painting depicts the cooperage process (making barrels for the whiskey) as well as the actual distilling of liquor.

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2115, which originally aired on April 30, 2016. View the full episode here.