|Ocala, FL -
April 2, 2012|
Published in Ocala.com - Monday, April 2, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.
The latest Horse Fever herd of artsy horses is making its way to new homes, businesses and horse farms throughout Ocala and Marion County.
Iris, by Jay Rosen, has popped up on Silver Springs Boulevard near Northeast 8th Avenue.
World Champ, by Sharon Crute, is grazing on Ocala's downtown square watching the outdoor diners at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille across the street.
Passing Through, by Celeste Stadler, returned to its quiet home in a neighborhood park just outside downtown Ocala's historic district.
Ten Years From Above, by Kent Weakley, will soon be on display near the entrance to Munroe Regional Medical Center.
The good news for Horse Fever fans is that all 30 horse statues sold at the recent auction were purchased by people who plan to keep them in this area. The auction raised $208,500, with the average selling price at $7,000.
“A lot of them are going to businesses, so they will be in public view,” said Laurie Zink, co-chair of Marion Cultural Alliance‘s Horse Fever II. “And some are going to farms.”
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Gary Borse's Mistaken Identity, shown at West Marion Hospital, is one of several new Horse Fever horses on display in Ocala, FL on Monday April 2, 2012. The horses, which are public art made by local artists, were recently auctioned as a fund raiser for the Marion Cultural Alliance. Buy Photo Alan Youngblood/Ocala Star-Banner
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While more than $92,000 of the proceeds will go to the Marion Cultural Alliance, the same amount will go to charities selected by each of the horse's new owners. Zink said the charities will be awarded their funds during a reception April 11.
“They are spread across the community, from large ones to small,” Zink said, looking at an incomplete list of designated charities. “Some have previously received funds from Horse Fever and some have not. It's a real mixed bag.”
Members of the Marion Cultural Alliance, such as former mayor Gerald Ergle, spent much of last week delivering concrete bases to the new owners, for proper display of the horses.
Tommie Sharma is delighted that Seahorse: The Next Generation is returning to Madison Street Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. It is one of three horses the Marion Cultural Alliance donated to local schools to decorate.
“Every student in the school had something to do with that horse,” Sharma said. “All of their hands touched that horse and it's just beautiful.”
As president of the school's Parent Teacher Organization, she wanted to make sure she had enough funds to bid on the horse at auction. The PTO had voted to use $5,700 for the purchase, but members felt more would be needed. The school sent out a notice to parents, asking for more donations, and an additional $4,300 was raised in just one day.
“Our parents are awesome,” Sharma said. “It blew my mind that people were that generous.”
Their hunch on high bidding was correct, as $7,300 was needed to win the horse at auction.
“This is very important to our school since we are a magnet school for the arts,” she said. “This is something the students have created so future generations can see it. We also saw this as a nice tribute to our art teacher, Ruth Dexheimer, who is retiring this year. It's her legacy, the last big art project she did.”
Hillcrest School's Reaching for the Stars is returning to that school, but West Port High School's Artquestrian will go elsewhere.
The $24,000 raised from the sale of the three horses will go to the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, to be used for grants for public school art programs and supplies, and to aid non-verbal expression at Hillcrest.
Seeing the students from the schools with their horses at the auction was heartwarming, said Christina Bertuzzi.
“I was very moved seeing those kids there with their horses,” said the owner of Real Estate of Ocala, Inc. “What a wonderful event and just a beautiful evening.”
The event was made all the more beautiful when Bertuzzi secured the highest bid for Iris, at $9,900. It was the horse she came to buy. Now the public can see Iris at the office building she shares with Steven Chamberlain at 752 E. Silver Springs Blvd.
“It's the perfect spot for one of these horses,” Bertuzzi said. “When I first heard about this, I knew we had to have one.”
Those who missed the auction still have a chance to own a piece of Horse Fever history. Raffle tickets for Horse with Heart by Bonnie Eads, the People's Choice horse selected through an online vote at Ocala.com, are available for $10 at the Brick City Center for the Arts. The winning ticket will be selected the evening of May 4, during the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Ocala.