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Painted ponies to populate Lake Geneva this summer

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Kayla Bunge
January 7, 2008
— A rag of colts will overrun the streets of Lake Geneva this summer as SMILES therapeutic riding center launches a public art exhibition of life-size horses painted by artists.

The “Horsing Around Town” exhibition is in the same vein as Chicago’s “Cows on Parade,” Madison’s “Cow Parade” and Milwaukee’s “Beastie Beat.” But for SMILES, it’s about honoring the animal that makes the program possible, said project coordinator Kathy Hansen.


SMILES, Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills, specializes in therapeutic riding for children and adults with disabilities. Hansen said the exhibition is a way to get the word out about the program.


“There are miracles happening here,” she said. “The people that are participating know it, but the public doesn’t realize what’s really happening.”


“Horsing Around Town” will feature 80 sculptures painted by local and national artists and sponsored by local businesses and organizations. Selected artists will have three months to transform the blank sculptures. Each fiberglass colt stands 3 1/2 feet tall.


SMILES began soliciting artists and sponsors Wednesday, and the response has been positive, according to Hansen.


“We already have people calling just from word of mouth,” she said.


A kick-off is planned for May 31, when the completed horses will be on display before hitting the streets of Lake Geneva for four months, from June through September.


The painted horses will be auctioned off at the end of September, and all proceeds will benefit SMILES.


Hansen said the center has high hopes for the exhibition.


“The quality of the horses we’re anticipating is going to be phenomenal,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, and it will get the whole community involved.”


The exhibition will bring pride to the artists and sponsors and bring tourism dollars to the area, Hansen said.


“A lot of really good things will happen because of this,” she said. “It’s an attitude. It’s an excitement that’s in the air.”


TO LEARN MORE
Artists and sponsors interested in participating in the “Horsing Around Town” exhibition should call SMILES at (262) 882-3470 or e-mail smiles@smiles.nu. Artist packets and sponsorship information also are available at the Lake Geneva Chamber of Commerce, 201 Wrigley Drive, Lake Geneva. Deadline for artist submissions is Friday, Feb. 22.

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