Greater Parkersburg


Wildlife & Equine Portraits by Merry Cibula

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Opening: Sunday, September 1, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Location: Parkersburg Art Center
Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
725 Market Street
Parkersburg, West Virginia

About 17,000 years ago, a cave person used natural pigments and a burned stick to draw a horse on the wall of a cave in Lascaux, France. This pot-bellied horse started a trend: (besides the invention of graffiti) a trend for artworks capturing the enduring strength and grace of The Horse.

Equine paintings and sculptures have been popular in every era. It’s true the horse lost some ground in early Christian and Byzantine art, but by the time of the Renaissance there was...well...a renaissance in equine art. By the Baroque era, every noble worth his salt was painted astride a horse.

In the 1800s and 1900s the horse was a common subject, pictured in war, at work in the fields, and most especially, at sport—horse racing and fox hunting. These sports, plus the American West, provided unending opportunities for those who had the necessary skill to feature the horse in art.  And speaking of that necessary skill brings me to the newest member of our Art Center exhibitor family: Merry Cibula.

The thing is, it isn’t easy to get the horse right. The people who draw, sculpt or paint the horse well—like Merry—are typically those who have spent time with them.  Merry served in the Peace Corps for six years in Cameroon, West Africa, where her love for the horse (indeed all wildlife) blossomed.

When she returned to the states she took her love of animals, her six years of photographs in the wild, and her talent to Ohio University. There she majored in painting, studying with—among others—the extraordinary Gary Pettigrew. (In fact, it was Gary who introduced me to Merry, and suggested we host an exhibit of her work.)  Upon graduation, she worked as an illustrator for the American Quarter Horse Museum and for the Columbus Zoo.

Horses and other animals thrive on Merry’s farm in Athens, Ohio, as well as in her nuanced charcoal and colored pencil works. In any of her pieces, the exacting detail in the eye and color and musculature make it clear that these are not idealized studies, but actual four-legged people, as real as your neighbors. These are wildlife PORTRAITS. And while her exhibit is primarily equine works, her other subjects are treated with the same skill and care, no matter the number of legs.

Abby Hayhurst, Artistic Director

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Wildlife & Equine Portraits By Merry Cibula