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9:38 PM Wed, Nov. 14th

Feel the Power - New Phippen Museum exhibit examines mankind's history with the horse

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>
Marie Rhines admires Wei Tai’s oil on copper painting, “Companion,” Friday evening during the opening of the Phippen Museum’s “Hold Your Horses” exhibit in Prescott.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br> Marie Rhines admires Wei Tai’s oil on copper painting, “Companion,” Friday evening during the opening of the Phippen Museum’s “Hold Your Horses” exhibit in Prescott.

Mankind's companionship and love for horses shines in a new exhibit, "Hold Your Horses," at the Phippen Museum.

Forty artists, known for their "art of the horse," have their works on display, and many mingled with guests who attended a reception Friday to launch the exhibition and sale.

Among the artisans, who came from throughout the Southwest show their work were Wei Tai of Phoenix and Sherry Blanchard Stuart of Scottsdale.

Tai moved to the United States in 1991 from China, where his art studies gave him a "very strong foundation," he said.

Tai's sister had come to America as few years earlier and is first violinist for the Phoenix Symphony. Through her and seeing pictures of the West in books and on postcards, he had a vision of this part of the world.

"When I came to Phoenix, I saw real Indians," and the Southwest landscape, such as Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, he said. He decided to make Phoenix his home.

Using oil, watercolor, charcoal, pastels and his specialty, oil on copper, Tai paints landscapes. And, he likes to do "special" horses, too, he said. "Horses are my favorite. I like to do running horses. They are exciting. Each horse has its own character when it runs."

The exhilaration that horses exude when they are set free from work fascinates Tai. "Their running is exciting," he said. "They are relaxed. The horse is an icon of the Southwest and a very special kind of animal to the people, the cowboy."

Tai's paintings illustrate the camaraderie between horses.

"Horses are like a family when they are running," he said. "They are talking, like companions, when they run. That's what I want to show."

Stuart describes herself as traditional representational Western artist, and even though she might paint from photographs, her preference is "from life," she said.

"I love interesting light and composition," Stuart said. "I like historical subjects, also. I love to paint animals, figures and still life and landscapes, and in my western work, I can combine it all."

Of animals, Stuart said, "Horses are my favorite, God's greatest creation. Horses are always an excuse for me to do a painting. I have had a life-long love for horses."

Stuart believes that growing as an artist is never-ending.

"I am always evolving and trying to get more value into my work, with color, light and composition. I am always searching for power in my work. It's evolving

"I don't want to do just a face of something," she said. "I want to go past that. It's a challenge always searching, but it's a joy."

"Hold Your Horses," the Phippen Museum's tribute to man's "powerful, loyal and hard-working companion," will be on exhibit through Oct. 26. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of artists' works will benefit the museum.

For more information about the show, museum hours and admission fees, call the museum at 778-1385 or visit its website, www.phippenartmuseum.org. The museum is located at 4701 N. Highway 89 in Prescott.