Meet artist Jesse Horton and see his latest sculpture at Beaver Creek gallery Saturday | VailDaily.com
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Meet artist Jesse Horton and see his latest sculpture at Beaver Creek gallery Saturday

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Jesse Horton works on a sculpture of Calvin, a horse. See the piece today at Horton Fine Art in Beaver Creek.
Special to the Daily |

BEAVER CREEK — When Jesse Horton heard about a large, black and white Shire horse named Calvin living at a ranch near his studio in Edwards, he had to go and see the animal for himself.

Jesse started creating whimsical figures using clay when he was a child. His father was the famed bronze sculptor, the late Walt Horton. What first started for Jesse as a fun hobby in between sailing ships and piloting submarine explorations became a heartfelt passion.

Calvin is not a common breed amongst horses. Calvin is a Shire, a breed which originated in England for the purpose of moving large, heavy weights; usually used as a draft horse. Calvin belonged to a longtime local, Steve Walker, who suddenly passed, leaving Calvin quite distressed. He was lonely and losing weight.

Jesse spent time befriending Calvin for many hours before sculpting him. His visits with Calvin proved to be deeply beneficial to both Calvin and Jesse. Many 5-pound bags of carrots and long conversations later, a beautiful friendship was cemented. Jesse had the opportunity to spend much time observing Calvin’s anatomy and behavior. After numerous drawings and clay renditions, Jesse sculpted a stunning 15-inch high piece aptly named “Hitchin’ a Ride.”

In this study, Calvin is looking behind, gazing at a small bird who is hanging out on Calvin’s back loin. The juxtaposition in size between the tiny bird and the gargantuan horse is whimsical.

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“Whimsical is a family tradition; it’s fun to make people laugh,” Jesse said.

A Gentle Soul

After many summer days spent with Calvin, Jesse had noticed that, notwithstanding his size, Calvin is a gentle soul with deep feelings.

“The more I observe, the better I know my subject, the better I am able to sculpt it,” Jesse said. “At the end of the day, creating a sculpture is about understanding the emotion of it. One of the tools I have at my disposal is artistic license. I am allowed (as an artist) a slight distortion of reality, and that is what allows (the artist) to create magic.”

The curious gaze, the locking of eyes between Calvin and the visiting bird hitching a ride on his back, brings the viewers into the story of Calvin the Shire.

“Hitchin’ a Ride” can be viewed at the Horton Fine Art Gallery, located in the Park Hyatt Plaza in Beaver Creek. Jesse will be in the gallery sculpting and telling stories about Calvin today from 4 to 8 p.m.

For further information, call 970-949-1660.


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