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Mexican, horse-themed art at Hoosier museum

Indiana Correspondent

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — When considering whether to bring an exhibit of Mexican horse-themed folk art to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, its executive director thought about the people who live in the area.
“There are a lot of horse farms in Indiana and that went into my thinking,” Charles Shepard explained. “And our Hispanic population is growing. We’re going to have horse people who enjoy it, and we’re going to have Hispanic people who enjoy it.”

The exhibit, El Caballo: The Horse in Mexican Folk Art, opened in late March at the museum and runs through April 28.
Folk artists are those who have no formal training but are moved to create two- or three-dimensional art, Shepard said. He said the show caught his eye, in part, because of his fascination with folk art in general.

“These people don’t feel bound by formal structure and that makes it more fun,” he noted. “These pieces have great color, and I think people in our area will enjoy it. It’s a great show for people who feel like they’re not deeply versed in art.”

All of the art in the exhibit was made by Mexican artists in the 20th century, Shepard said. Horses are a popular subject among Mexican artists because a lot of their heroes throughout their nation’s history rode the animals, he noted.

El Caballo features 22 pieces made with materials such as ceramic, metal, paper mache and wood. Because the art is so colorful, Shepard said the museum opted to paint the exhibit gallery classic white.

“Normally I like to paint a room with color for an exhibit, but we went with white because we want these little pieces to sing on their own,” he said.

Included in the exhibit is a skeletal horse and rider which Shepard said was his personal favorite in the collection. The piece, made of paper mache, features a horse with its mouth wide open and a rider, also in skeleton form, dressed in blue and wearing a sombrero. The work by artist Joel Garcia was done in 2004.
Another display, described as a horse processional, shows a horse and rider being carried in a basket by four men. The brightly colored piece is made of painted terra cotta and was done by artist Guillermina Aguilar in 2003.

Many of the pieces feature vivid colors. A horse made of glass beads, wood and beeswax has several shades of blue, orange and yellow. The work was done by an unknown artist in 2003.
For those interested in more detail about the exhibit, the museum is offering a lecture at 6:30 p.m. April 10 by Cesareo Moreno, visual arts director and chief curator at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. The lecture is $5 for Fort Wayne museum members and $12 for non-members.

El Caballo is a national touring show by ExhibitsUSA, which specializes in touring exhibitions, Shepard said. The exhibit is curated by Robert Cugno and Robert Logan, directors of the Media Gallery in Garnett, Kan.

Fort Wayne is the only stop for the exhibit in this part of the country, Shepard said. “I don’t think it’s going to be anywhere else near us,” he stated. “I like the idea that it’s something you can’t get nearby.”

The El Caballo exhibit will be available during regular museum hours – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission to the museum is $7 for adults, $5 for students and $12 for families.

For more information, call 260-422-6467 or visit