To celebrate its 60th anniversary season in 2008, the Germantown Charity Horse Show (GCHS) staged a public art event, "The Horses are Coming! The Horses are Coming!" The event featured 21 life-size fiberglass statues of horses that were decorated by area artists. After being displayed around town throughout the summer, the horses were auctioned off at the "Twenty-One Horse Salute . Many of the horses ended up back in Germantown permanently, and the GCHS reported over $100,000 raised through initial sponsorships of the horses and purchases at auction.
The GCHS has its roots in private fox hunting and trail riding organizations, but within a couple years of its 1946 founding, the GCHS began benefitting a variety of children's causes (homes for orphans and children with incurable diseases, schools for children with learning disabilities, and shelters for battered children).
I really enjoyed getting out on el Bandido to track down all 21 of the horses and get pictures of each. The horses range from whimsical to tasteful (perhaps too tasteful), with only one horse being significantly modified. I hope that a future edition of this project (tentatively planned for the next three-to-five years) will find the artists being a little more adventurous.
Metro Memphis area is lacking in public art, and while these painted fiberglass horses won't last forever under the duress of rain and baking sun, they are enjoyable while they do last. I am hopeful they may inspire someone to fund public art of a more permanent nature. Another horse statue, made from bronze or granite would be a perfect way to celebrate Germantown's history as a center for equine sports.
View the gallery of horses to see all the horses and read more information about individual horses.
To learn more about the Germantown Charity Horse Show, visit gchs.org.