Outside of western paintings hanging in grandparents’ houses, art and horses are not an obvious pair.
But art students from the University of Arizona are making the two worlds collide with the “Railed Out Art Show”, a student-led, local gallery for the benefit of Wild Horse Ranch Rescue.
The show is April 11, 6-10 p.m. at the Whistle Stop Depot on 127 W. 5th St. and will feature both local and student artists with a variety of mediums, including a virtual reality platform.
“I initially thought it would be smaller than what it’s shaping up to be,” said Beau Brooks, a co-planner of the show. “Funny coincidence, really. Early on we noticed that a lot of the artist submissions were really cohesive, so that kind of shaped the personality of the show.”
The show began as a class assignment for Brooks, a senior and studio art major taking an art gallery management class this semester.
It was originally supposed to be a group project with his classmates, but Brooks had a better idea — he enlisted the help of his friend Delaney Thomas, another student majoring in Art and Visual Culture Education and Psychology.
In January, Brooks had heard Thomas was wanting to “plan something.” She was always keeping herself busy, Brooks said, and she had experience with planning galleries and shows.
Thomas was immediately intrigued.
“I feel like when you are a student artist, you want to showcase your work but don’t know where to start or where to go,” Thomas said. “I want to give people the opportunity to showcase their work for the first time and feel more confident.”
Thomas and Brooks started rounding up sponsorships from family circles and even Specter Tours and made a call to artists.
There was an uncanny synergy among the artists’ works, according to Thomas. There wasn’t a particular theme, but all the submissions were Gothic inspired, despite being different mediums.
Without even trying, the show had been given a personality, and suddenly it was not just a class project anymore.
Between the Gothic themes and horses, the “Railed Out Art Show” was already shaping up to be a weird one. Once Thomas and Brooks found Whistle Stop Depot they decided to run with the show’s quirks and hijinks and book it at the venue.
“Whistle Stop itself has a very unique atmosphere — very artsy and metal, but also very classy,” Brooks said.
The venue is “recycled-chic” — a craftily built warehouse of rustic rails, wagon wheels and elegant fairy lights. There’s a hand-welded tower that rises over downtown, a desert garden and a dinosaur statue named Veronica that will be dressed up as Bob Ross for the event.
“It offers both a large dinosaur statue and elegant lighting, which is an odd pairing, but it’s perfect for us,” Brooks said. “Our artists are both talented and kind of wild.”
When it came to picking an organization to donate proceeds to, Thomas wanted to honor the person who made her love event planning and gallery curating in the first place: Kim Meagher, owner of Wild Horse Ranch Rescue.
“Picking a non-profit to partner with was a no-brainer,” Thomas said. “Kim does amazing work and is an all-around fantastic person. She has done so much for me and gave me my first start in planning shows.”
Meagher has been a patron of the arts since before the rescue made headway in 1995. She took up the responsibility as a horse rescuer and as an artist and has even held galleries at her ranch.
“I miss being in the art world on a regular basis, so events like Delaney’s are a joy to me to combine my love of art and rescuing horses in need,” Meagher said. “What could be more beautiful?”
According to ASPCA, approximately 80,000 American horses were sent to the slaughterhouse last year. Wild Horse Ranch Rescue has grown since its humble beginnings as barn with a 11 stalls for 11 horses, but it still needs help. According to Meagher, 100 percent of the staff are volunteers, so the rescue is fully reliant on donations.
“A few dollars goes a long way,” Meagher said.
According to Meagher, a bale of hay costs $15 to $18. Wild Horse Ranch Rescue have a program called “‘Bale’ a Horse Out”, where people can feed a horse in need for just $15 per month.
The goal is to have 100 monthly “‘Bale’ a Horse Out” Donors, and so far, they have amassed 53 monthly donations.
“When a person is around horses, you have to pay attention and be in the moment,” Meagher said. “It’s like leaving the world behind when one is in horseland.”
The “Railed Out Art Show” is an opportunity for both horses and artists to get the exposure they deserve in the community, according to Thomas.
“The arts district is amazing in Tucson, and most people don’t know about most of great events artists put on here,” Thomas said. “It’s really important that people support local artists, not just because it helps struggling artists, but because they have the opportunity to support the whole of Tucson while they’re at it.”
Thomas and Brooks will both be featured artists, along with Michael Cochin, a UA student and the designer of the “Railed Out Art Show” promotional posters.
Attendants can look forward to live music, food and a bar. There is no entrance fee, but there will be a donation bucket at the door for those who want to give a small donation to Wild Horse Ranch Rescue.
“Art and Rescued Horses,” Meagher said. “It’s a great combination.”