Horsing Around Gets Reined In

Horsing Around Gets Reined In

After spending months of planning, Leonor Alvim Brazao was disappointed to find out that she would not be able to create a work of art on a fiberglass horse. The Portugal native hoped to promote cultural diversity through her design in the Horsing Around Loudoun project.

However, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce deselected seven artists, originally chosen to participate in the Horsing Around Loudoun project, including Brazao.

Bob Steere, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce chief operating officer and staff member, said he ordered 32 near-life-size equine sculptures from Prewitt Fiberglass Animals of Nebraska, but only received 17.

The fiberglass animal manufacturer went bankrupt and could not complete the order for the chamber.

The chamber located another fiberglass animal manufacturer with ready-made horses available in Texas, but was only able to secure eight horses in a timely fashion.

"This meant we had to deselect seven artists," Steere said. "It was disappointing."

The chamber staff members reselected 25 artists based on the horse designs that had already been sponsored by local businesses. Staff members notified the remaining seven artists by telephone in August.

Fortunately for the seven artists, there was no entry fee and all 32 artists will be reimbursed for supplies bought for their creations.

BRAZAO, an art teacher and active member of the community, was originally selected to participate in the Horsing Around Loudoun project.

"I moved here a year ago," Brazao said. "I wanted to start showing my work around here."

Her graphic design incorporated maps from around the world, symbolizing the cultures represented in Loudoun County.

"I named the horse Lusitano, which is a horse-race name and also derived from Lusitania, a Latin word for Portugal, my country of origin," Brazao said. "I wanted to show the community a name from another culture. It’s up to me to promote cultural diversity."

Brazao canceled summer vacation plans to work on her fiberglass sculpture. "It would have been nice to know sooner," she added.

FELLOW ARTIST Rachel Garcia Palmer of Reston continues to work hard on her equine creation, but is disappointed about the shortage of sculptures.

"It’s a shame," she said. "I’d like to see the project, for all artists, be a successful one."

Palmer, whose horse arrived late, said it is difficult for professional artists to make time for side projects. Although Palmer is not allowed to talk about her project, so that it remains a surprise to community members, she is working hard on it.

The remaining 25 horses will be displayed at public locations around the county.

"We apologize from the bottom of our heart," Steere said of the last-minute changes.

Horsing Around Loudoun is a countywide outdoor project that celebrates Loudoun County, its artist community and long-standing equine tradition. The horse sculptures will be auctioned off in spring 2006, at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg. The proceeds go to The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, Loudoun Council of the Arts and the Therapeutic Riding Foundation.

"It’s going to be pretty amazing," Steere said.