Horse Art

Art student Jay Rosen, 21, hopes his horse art “Iris” will earn thousands at the Horse Fever auction to be held at Live Oak Plantation in Ocala tonight. Rosen is one of 27 artists chosen to contribute to the event, which will benefit the arts in Marion County.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction. Jay Rosen only painted one of the 27 fiberglass horses.]

Jay Rosen was listening to Frank Zappa when he first started painting a horse in his living room last summer.

“First it was Zappa, then it was Miles Davis,” Rosen said. He painted one of 27 fiberglass horses that will be auctioned off tonight in Ocala.

Rosen, a 21-year-old fine arts junior, is the only UF student whose idea was accepted by the jury of Horse Fever. Three-hundred applicants vied for a chance to paint the life-sized horses.

Horse Fever is a nationally recognized auction sponsored by the Marion Cultural Alliance, a nonprofit organization that benefits the arts in Marion County.

Rosen said his sculpture professor suggested he enter the contest, which is the first charity event he has participated in.

According to Laurie Zink, MCA board of directors member and co-chairwoman of Horse Fever, applications came from artists throughout Florida and beyond.

“The top artists in the state all submitted this time,” she said. “It’s serious art this year because the jury was really looking at a serious art show.”

Zink referred to “Iris” as “The Jackson Pollock” horse because of Rosen’s style. He said he was inspired by Italian Futurism and painters like Georges Seurat — “the way they paint and use energy and color,” Rosen said.

He remembers dancing around the horse, posed with her head down as if grazing in a pasture, and painted for three minutes on each side.

“I’m a drawing major, so I don’t really paint anymore,” he said. “Now I’m working on how light affects our senses and how we perceive the inner world with color.”

Rosen chose her name because, he said, it means “goddess of the rainbow and movement of the wind.”

Ten years ago, the Horse Fever auction netted $800,000, Zink said. This year she expects MCA to exceed its goal of $250,000.

The combined funds will be used to create an endowment that will benefit local art and art schools.

“I would like to see our opening bids at $3,500,” Zink said.

Rosen hopes College of Central Florida will win his horse. He studied there for two years.

“One of the judges from CF said they would like to put it in front of Webber Gallery,” he said. “I learned to paint there, and they said they would like to have my horse since I am an alumnus.”