Horse Fever


This was the iconic cry of Horse Fever – 10th Anniversary, once again celebrating the creativity and talent of Ocala’s own visual artists. Thirty fancifully painted and embellished life-sized horses joined the original herd that has been decorating the Ocala landscape since 2001. Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) once again generously served as lead sponsor of this record-breaking project that has raised $1.75 million in total for MCA and 35 other local charities.

On March 23, 2012, the Live Oak International Combined Driving Event once again hosted the auction of the new herd into their weekend of festivities, attracting horse lovers, art lovers, and philanthropists. As was done 10 years ago, MCA shared ½ of the $208,000 in proceeds with each buyer’s 2nd local charity of choice, ultimately benefitting 17 charitable organizations.


A new aspect of the project were three horses created by students at Madison Street Academy Elementary and Westport High – Marion County public schools that serve as arts magnets, and the exceptional students at Hillcrest School. All of the proceeds from the auction of these three were given to the Marion Public Education Foundation to be used for arts grants, and equipment to assist students at Hillcrest with non-verbal communication.

MCA would like to thank the artists, the volunteers, FTBOA and the many sponsors of Horse Fever – 10th Anniversary.

For more information on Horse Fever, check our NEWS archives, and the following link from, our Community Sponsor for Horse Fever – 10th Anniversary.

10 Years From Above
Artist: Kent Weakley
Sponsor Name: Benefit Advisors

Artist’s Statement

Ten Years From Above is a graphical collage of geographical points of interest from the past ten years, since the first Horse Fever project of September, 200 1. My intention is for the horse to have a graphic visually pleasing appearance from a distance. A closer inspection reveals landmarks and locations that will forever be associated with the past ten years.

Brick City
Artist: Margaret Watts
Sponsor Name: E.L. Foster

Artist’s Statement

Ocala was known as Brick City. A fire had destroyed the wooden buildings downtown & were rebuilt in brick. Loving Ocala I wanted to show the beautiful old brick buildings that are/were part of downtown. I worked in the Courthouse, bought son’s first outfit in one of the Ocala House hotel shops and shoes in another and once in a while had lunch in the small cafe there. The Library was a favorite haunt after a bag lunch. Luckily for me E. L. Foster, my sponsor, loves Ocala too and was very supportive as the work progressed.

Broken Beauty
Artist:Stephanie Giera
Sponsor Name: Renstar Medical Research

Artist’s Statement

My concept is beauty from brokenness: taking broken things and reclaiming them as something new and whole. For this piece, I invited members of the community to donate any form of broken jewelry that may otherwise be discarded. I received hundreds of pieces, some broken and some not, some had stories and pasts that still give me chills. Some pieces were donated in memory of lost loved ones. More than creating the piece I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the people and the stories attached.Each piece was individually set. Placed and honored as fragile memories should be. When you look at this piece know that is embodies hundreds of stories, memories and aspirations. Each piece echoing the story of redemption and diversity: I was delighted to create a work that touches on a concept I hold so dear. Not one person can claim that they have not seen hard times, but through those broken times we emerge as strong new people who have picked up our broken pieces and reclaimed them as who we are today.

Artist: John Breen
Sponsor Name: MCA

Artist’s Statement

I wanted the horse to shout “gala celebration,” so the design is like the finale of a fireworks display.

Clockwork Fury
Artist: Mark Hershberger
Sponsor Name: The Ocala Sanctuary

Artist’s Statement

Clockwork Fury came to life originally in a dream, or maybe it was a night-mare. I had acquired a copy of the book The Steampunk Bible; fantastic images of turn of the last century styled creations by talented artists worldwide, it inspired my subconscious, as that night a steam powered horse automaton was loose and on a rampage through a fictional Victorian dream town in my head. Days later when I received the call for artist submissions for the new Horse Fever project, and since I had created a futuristic robot Futura Fury for the first Horse Fever , I thought I’d explore the feasibility of creating a version of the steam powered robot horse of my dream. Even though I knew that to do it right would require an effort above and beyond the scope of the monetary rewards. I planned it out, drew it up & submitted it. Clockwork Fury was put into perspective by a friend who said, “It’s like you were all (the Horse Fever artists) given a car to paint….and you decided it would be best if you rebuilt it first.”

Artist: Paul Ware
Sponsor Name: Arnette House

Artist’s Statement

Cuddly is a celebration of our childhood memories. The stuffed animal design was inspired by a box of stuffed toys secretly hiding in the back of our youngest teenage daughter’s closet, memories too dear to part with. The kind of precious memories we hope for future generations. It’s a great honor to be one of the artists chosen to participate in this inspiring MCA public art project. Even more exciting is that Arnette House is sponsoring Cuddly. What an incredible match!Arnette House, Inc. offers emergency shelter services, non-residential counseling services, group homes, Independent Living Program and will be opening a Therapeutic Group Home within the next few months.

Event Full
Artist: Linda Ballantine Brown
Sponsor Name: College of Central Florida

Artist’s Statement

Event Full is a celebration of Ocala’s many diverse horse events, with all different kinds of horses running, jumping, trotting into the hearts of horse lovers everywhere. For each of the horses I used different friends and people I know who are accomplished in the sport.

Freedom Is Not Free
Artist: Linda Happel Zysko
Sponsor Name: Fox Fire Realty

Artist’s Statement

Freedom is not Free was inspired by the recent Memorial Day remembrance experience I had while watching a fly-by of the Missing Man formation. I was very moved and my thoughts turned to the ultimate sacrifices that American families and citizens have made and are still making today. I wanted to share and show my deep appreciation.

Horse Feathers
Artist: Jackie Shindehette
Sponsor Name: Ocala Stud

Artist’s Statement

The unique beauty of Florida’s diverse landscape is a continuous challenge to capture on canvas. Each realistic oil painting of my native state is designed to interpret nuances of color, light and mood creating the essence of time and space. The nature of oil paint allows me to capture intense, vibrant colors and my bold brush work conveys the feeling of power and movement. I strive to create paintings that not only record, but also tell a story about the dynamic and ever changing Florida landscape.

Artist: Sally Ann Lyle
Sponsor Name: Fran Marino

Artist’s Statement

Although I am primarily an equine painter, I also like to work with more graphic images and materials when I can. The design for Horseplay is inspired by a metallic sculpture I made for my own home. I wanted to suggest the playful gestures and movements of the horses without a lot of realistic detail. The sculpture hangs on a stone fireplace wall and I have always liked the way the metal and stone textures work together. I thought it would make an eye-catching concept for this new Horse Fever project.Because I also painted Dreamer for the first Horse Fever Project, I was prepared for working on a supersize 3-dimensional “canvas”, even though it meant temporarily taking over the entire garage! It was fun doing an artwork piece that is a different challenge for me. I hope everyone enjoys the result.

I am grateful to Fran Marino for sponsoring Horseplay.

Hubble Horse
Artist: Kelli Money Huff
Sponsor Name: Georgia Floors Direct

Artist’s Statement

Hubble Horse came about as a result of my husband being an amateur astronomer and my own fascination with the Hubble photos. 2010 was the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope and I thought it very fitting to commemorate that in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of Horse Fever. I chose the Omega Nebula, also known as the Swan Nebula as my design.My artwork usually centers around textures on canvas in acrylic and my first horse, Hi Ho Silver Springs incorporated this love of texture. Hubble Horse was a new challenge for me, using lots of blending and glazing to create the brightly colored atmospheric effects without relying on texture mediums. When painting an oversized 3-dimensional canvas (such as a horse), there are issues with distortion when a square, 2-dimensional photo is wrapped around an odd shape. I purchased a Barbie horse and wrapped the photo around it so I could get a better idea of placement. In spite of these issues, I have always enjoyed painting the horses as well as creating other community projects.

I am very grateful to Leslie and Jerry Jones, owners of Georgia Floors Direct for seeing the same vision that I did in putting the sky on a horse. Thank you so much for the opportunity and I hope you enjoy Hubble Horse as much as I enjoyed painting it.

Artist: Mary Verandeaux
Sponsor Name: On Top of the World

Artist’s Statement

Inspiration is a representation of different cultural activities. This horse describes how I feel about art, culture and what it provides to the community. On Top Of The World is a perfect match for this horse, as a sponsor, since they have so many cultural events at their community. As always, I am an avid supporter of the arts and MCA and am always happy to help in any way I can.

Artist: Jay Rosen
Sponsor Name: Ocala Eye

Artist’s Statement

According to Greek mythology, Iris was the soul of the rainbow, traveling with the speed of the wind.When painting Iris, my goal was to depict a lively racehorse with a strong sense fiery rhythm, inspired by the charged potential energy surging throughout the horse. The vibrant colors echo the fierce tempo of its fluctuating existence, as a racehorse, constantly in action. About 70 layers of individual colors were used to paint the horse, simulating Neo-Impressionistic techniques. With no definitive form to the abstract patterns, the observer optically mixes the colors within their mind, constructing newer colors and paths for the eye to travel.

Luce DiPinto
Artist: Kent Weakley
Sponsor Name: Great American Insurance

Artist’s Statement

Luce Dipinto (meaning painting with light) is draped with two of my infrared black and white photographs from Marion County. Afternoon Graze which was photographed on the former Bonnie Heath Farm and Noon Shade which was captured south of Ocala on 475. Always with a love for trees, I was never quite happy with the feel of my images, until I discovered infrared black and white. Essentially, all living foliage in direct sunlight reflects infrared light which we can’t see. This is what creates the stark contrasts in the highlight areas.

Mask “Herd” rade
Artist: Lisa Russo
Sponsor Name: Ocala Breeders’ Sales

Artist’s Statement

I designed Mask “Herd” Rade as a festive way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Horse Fever. The Venetian masks evoke the imagery of Carnival, Mardi Gras, New Years and Masquerade Balls, giving the feel of a grand celebration. These masks are inspirational to me due to their variety and level of detail and they add intrigue and fantasy to the heroines and courtiers in many of my paintings. I thoroughly enjoyed using the unique format of the horse as a canvas and placing the masks and balancing colors. To add interest to the Mask “Herd rade horse, I have included hidden images within the ribbons and masks themselves (Look for: a lion’s head, a penguin, a gondola, hidden letters, a violin, 4 aces, books, music notes, and St. Mark’s Square). Enjoy having a second look trying to find them all!

Mistaken Identity
Artist: Gary Borse
Sponsor Name: Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute

Artist’s Statement

When you have a HORSEFEVER, you need a shaman, a healer, with fire and ice combined as yin and yang to calm the soul as well as fire up the emotions to an atomic level. The vibration of color can heal many maladies of the heart and soul. Indulge in Mistaken Identity and be healed from your HORSEFEVER.Ten years ago, I sat on the floor in the same spot in my studio and created two other horses, Orion and Paradiso. I saw first-hand the excitement we generated within the community from the beginning to the final farewell to the herd. The auction was one of my most treasured events when we watched speechless and in a state of shock as $845,000 was raised by the auctioneer. The money would seed the endowment fund for art programs and scholarships, and 50% to local charities. It was an electrifying experience to be there throughout the event and witness the amount of money the MCA volunteers and artists had raised for their community. A real win for Marion County all around thanks to the visions and hard work of a group of community-minded people, and artists, who served their community and are doing it again. We all know it was well worth the ride! Are you ready to rock? VIVA HORSEFEVER!

Ocala Luna
Artist: Diane Cahal
Sponsor Name:
Hilton of Ocala

Artist’s Statement

Ocala Luna is the most ambitious piece I’ve ever attempted and, by far, the most rewarding. During my summer with him, his personality began to emerge and by the end of the process he had become my best friend. Ocala Luna is a sweet horse, gentle, whimsical, but also powerful and vibrantly stoic. I am thrilled to share my new friend with you. Also, I’d like to thank my sponsor, Hilton Ocala, for giving me the opportunity to bring Ocala Luna to life. I hope Ocala Luna is able to greet their guests with the same warmth and friendliness that my sponsors have shown me.

Artist:Barbara Porzio
Sponsor Name: Latinos y Mas

Artist’s Statement

Having participated in the first Horse Fever project, I knew it would be fun. My bird, Huey, (in the parrot family) has been a part of my life for so long, it was an easy leap to painting parrots. The play on words was even easier. Having Latinos y Mas sponsor me is delicious, in every sense of the word.

Passing Through
Artist:Celeste Stadler
Sponsor Name:12th Street Gang

Artist’s Statement

In the spring of 2011, I toured of some of my favorite historic district streets taking photos then began painting interesting features of those homes, including the Burford House on Ft. King. The wonderful side porch with the sleeping porch above was my subject. The house is also surrounded by the most unusual and beautiful fence. At the Ocala Public Library I learned that the fence is one of the oldest structures in Ocala, once surrounding the original courthouse on the Square.

I had to know more. As I read about the changing industries, the constantly remodeled buildings, founding fathers, and all of the descendants of people, plants, and animals which are important parts of my life today, I kept going back to the same thought. Everything around me is PASSING THROUGH except things of beauty made of lasting materials – like THAT FENCE.

My design for Horse Fever features a conversation between Ocala’s mayor of ten years ago, Gerald Ergle, and Ocala’s current mayor, Randy Ewers speaking of Ocala’s history and topics relevant today. The crest of the gate at the Burford House serves as a bridle for a powerful horse passing through history.
Images on the head and neck depict the watersheds, abundant rainfalls, and incredible gushing springs passing through all around us. Floating images of towers of buildings no longer with us make us want to reconnect with the past and know more about it. The floating magnolia and pant material supply all of the generations of Ocalans with oxygen-enriched air and great beauty season after season.
What a blessing it is to be PASSING THROUGH this place at this time.

Quarter Horse
Artist:Gene Hotaling
Sponsor Name: Live Oak Foundation

Artist’s Statement

The idea for Quarterhorse came to me from the recently minted state quarters. Some state coins had horses on them and I thought, “Why not put and paint the quarters on a horse and call it Quarterhorse?” The final sculpture is interesting from far away and close up and conveys a sense of patriotism, American history, and spirit while poking fun at “Art” and the conventions of our society.
The map used to display all fifty of the individual state quarters includes both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, a couple Great Lakes, The Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and even Lake Okeechobee and The Great Salt Lake of Utah. On this level, the surface of the horse becomes a topographic portrait of America.
The words on Quarterhorse actually say something….he has a voice which conveys a powerfully patriotic and spiritual message. The text creates a sense of visual flow and movement as your eyes move across the sculpture to read the words.In all ways I enjoyed making Quarterhorse. Not a moment of drudgery or regret, it really was fun!. My hope is that the great joy I experienced making this piece will relive in everyone that sees it.

Race Day
Artist:Kimberly Samson
Sponsor Name: Ocala Traditions

Artist’s Statement

Race Day is a pictorial representation of the fun and thrills found during a day at the races. From high fashion to finish line excitement, Race Day personifies the culmination of effort that frequently begins in Ocala. I am thankful that Ocala Traditions chose to sponsor my horse. They were great to work with and I appreciate their support. It was a pleasure creating Race Day, and I hope he brings a smile to those who view him.

Artist: Carlynne Hershberger
Sponsor Name: Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital

Artist’s Statement

Sunny is like a fusion of cool stone and hot climate. The design for Sunny originated from my love of natural patterns in nature like those found in stone. I wanted the pattern to be reminiscent of a banded agate. When I painted my first horse Aggie I used very natural earthy colors that were in the real stone so this time I wanted to do something brighter and bolder. I wanted my horse to reflect the hot, sunny climate in Florida so the bands of bright yellow, orange and red become almost like heat waves moving across the horse.I want to give a giant thank you to Sunny’s sponsor Peterson-Smith. Without them I would not have had the great fun of playing with paint on this very special and different canvas.

The Forest King
Artist: David D’Alessandris
Sponsor Name: State Farm Insurance

Artist’s Statement

I am truly motivated and inspired by the local terrain; the rolling hills, the colors of the trees overlapping and creating patterns of light and color. Forest King reminds me of driving our local roads where there is always something interesting, colorful and fun to see.The natural beauty that is around us is captured in multiple layers of acrylic paint. Color-pieced to create a landscape of movement. A natural quilt of color and nature. Foliage and natural elements go from the foreground to the background in rhythm and harmony all combining into Forest King. Inspired by Ocala’s National Forest and home of the nation’s horse country, Forest King is a collaboration of nature, fun and Horse Fever.

Urban Art
Artist:Kayleb Higgins
Sponsor Name: Jenkins Hyundai

Artist’s Statement

Ever since I watched my mother paint her first two horses Cosmo and Fern in 2001, I’ve always thought it was really fascinating and wanted to try my hand at painting an entire horse myself. When the opportunity came for me to submit an application, I couldn’t pass it up. Being selected as an artist was such a great feeling since this is my first major artistic project. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity, and none of it would of been possible without the great help of MCA and all of the wonderful sponsors including Jenkins Hyundai.

Wild Abandon
Artist:Brynn Barnett
Sponsor Name: Lifestyle Solutions Medical Spa

Artist’s Statement

My family heard the advertisement on the radio and got me an application to enter the “Horse Fever-2011” contest. I was very shocked but excited when I received a call that I had been chosen. Inspired from a very artistic family, and many wonderful art teachers, I have always been interested in drawing and painting from a very young age. I am very thankful to the Marion Cultural Alliance and my sponsor, LifeStyles Solutions Medical Spa, Dr. Michael Holloway, for having faith in me and choosing my art.Wild Abandon is a very colorful depiction of my art, how it makes me feel free and young and how I look at life. He is an escape from reality with a wild and untamed beauty.

When Wild Abandon arrived, he was a lot bigger than I thought he would be. I felt overwhelmed at times, wished he would run away, occasionally leaving the doors open for encouragement but he was always there …waiting for me when I returned. We eventually became good friends and his beauty continued to emerge until he bloomed into a beautiful work of art.

Wild Fire
Artist: Nancy Ihasz
Sponsor Name: GoldMark Farm

Artist’s Statement

I had the privilege of being invited to attend the viewing of the original Horse Fever herd. I was in awe of the horses, the art work and the artists. I silently thought I would have loved to be a part of Horse Fever never realizing I would have the opportunity to do just that ten years later. In the early 70’s I was always day dreaming about being somewhere else. When the song Wildfire came out I romanticized leaving my current situation by imagining I was riding off on a horse named Wildfire.
When trying to come up with a concept for a horse the name Wild Fire was the first thought I had. I work a lot with textures and acrylics so it seemed natural for me to texturize the horse and paint a furious, furious, blazing, roaring, hot fire, like a horse determined to run and run as fast and far as the spreading fire. I didn’t ride off on a horse, but I managed to get out of my situation and I was able to realize yet another dream of participating in this wonderful Marion Cultural Alliance public art event.

Working on such a large scale, in the heat, on my screened in patio presented quite a lot of challenges for me. I spent the first three days staring at my horse, wondering where to start, and questioning everyone I knew who ever painted one. Most of my artwork is executed on canvases ranging from 2 x 2 inches to 16 x 24 and in texture, acrylic or oil. Now I would have to translate this onto a life sized fiberglass replica of a horse. As my artist friends told me, just keep painting. You will get there. They were right and I am so grateful for them and this opportunity.

World Champ
Artist: Sharon Crute
Sponsor Name: Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association

Artist’s Statement

After discussing the design with my sponsor, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, we decided together to illustrate the importance of the thoroughbred industry here in Florida. One side depicts the breeding aspect represented by the beautiful farms throughout Marion County. The other represents the amazing accomplishments of last year’s three Eclipse Award winners: Awesome Feather, Big Drama and Dubai Majesty – all bred in Florida. The flags represent racing in the U.S., Florida and our two sister cities located in Ireland and Italy. The South Korean flag represents the important business relationship involving sales of Florida-breds to the S. Korean racing program.