August 2015

The Horses of the Equamore Foundation

Equamore Foundation

Talent artist Karen Rycheck once helped create a multi-thousand-square-foot mosaic in St. Louis, MO that helped aid in the revitalization of the city's downtown.
On Friday, July 31 from 5-6 pm on the deck of Grotto Pizzeria she will unveil her latest creation: The Horses of the Equamore Foundation. There will also be live, original bluegrass/country music by Talent's own Sage Meadows to help celebrate public arts here in Talent.
After earning her BFA in sculpture in 1994, Karen went on to work as a full time mosaic artist at the notorious City Museum in St. Louis, MO.
When she moved west in 2004, she acquired a job with a small handmade tile company in Ashland, OR where she created a mosaic for the Oregon Zoo in Portland followed by the first publicly funded art commission for the City of Ashland in 2005.
Her latest venture is her own business, where she creates fine art mosaics, ceramics, and public and private commissions from her studio in Talent, OR under the name missmosaic.
She has gone on to create public pieces for the city of Grants Pass, as well as the McMinnville Public Library.
The Horses of Equamore mosaic measures 28 ft. long by 2.5 ft. high and was created entirely of handmade ceramic tile created by the artist. "This project was funded by a grant from the Haines Foundation of Ashland, local contributors from Talent and the Rogue Valley, friends, and even folks from across the US and Germany," Karen said. "Over 100 contributors in all made this a real community effort. The mosaic includes portraits of actual rescued horses from Equamore as well as a myriad of wildlife native to the Rogue Valley region."
Begun back in the early 1990's, the Equamore Foundation's mission is to provide a safety net for unwanted, abused, abandoned, neglected, and aged horses who are without alternatives for their care, while fostering compassion and responsibility for horses through education, outreach, and intervention. Karen chose this sanctuary to bring awareness to their vitally needed cause.
Below Karen explains how she became a mosaic artist and how she ended up creating a 28-foot long mural at the Grotto.

How did you become interested in mosaic art?
I was inspired by the work of Austrian eco-artist Hundert Wasser, whom I discovered while studying overseas during college. I then went on to get a job mosaicking at the (St. Louis, MO) City Museum right after graduating with my BFA. A year and a half of on the job mosaic work got me hooked!

What inspired The Horses of Equamore?
I was applying for a grant through the newly created Haines Foundation of Ashland, which gives multiple small grants to artists in our Valley annually. (Thank you!) I wanted to make a public mural to prove to myself and potential clients that I could do it, as most of my previous public artwork has been under someone else's name. I chose the theme and location because I knew the business owner, Anna Clay, was a horse lover and supporter of animal rights causes. How could she say no? LOL.

How long did the piece take to complete and what were the major challenges of the piece?
The project began in April 2014 when I conceived of the project and wrote the grant. When I found out I'd gotten it in July (a four thousand dollar boost), I began the fundraising process (raising ten thousand dollars more) through the online crowd-funding resource, indiegogo.com. That took until October. Then I had to take a break to make works for the annual Clayfolk Show which was coming up in November. I got back to work on the design and another public commission piece in January 2015, and started the physical production in February. It was completed in mid-July. So all told it took seventeen months! During production I was working everyday—sometimes as many as eleven hours a day—to try and complete the work before it got too hot to install.

Was this a collaboration, or a solo piece?
This piece was created entirely by me, though the community was involved in fundraising, prepping the substrates before laying tile, and helping with tile-taping sections together for easier laying. I also had the generous help and donation of time by Dorris Construction to do the amazingly smooth installation in just over an hour (thanks guys!!).

What is the goal of this installation/what do you hope comes of it?
I wanted to give my portfolio a boost, as I'd like to do more public artwork, as well as raise the awareness of the Equamore Foundation and the wonderful and much needed work they do for our Rogue Valley community and beyond.

Are you also involved with Equamore or horses in general?
I am not directly affiliated with Equamore though they have been very supportive of this project. I did participate in their first annual Artists for Equamore event this spring and hope to in the future as well. I'm really more of a dog person than anything, but love all critters and believe they need as much care and respect as the rest of us! They are "givers" while we tend to be "takers."

Other comments:
In addition to straight cash donations, I fundraised this piece by "selling" the placement of a donors name onto the actual animal tiles that make up the mural. I added in tiles of other wildlife of the Rogue Valley region as a way to get more donations, yes, but more as an educational component for children and adults alike. The natural history of our area is one of the things that makes it so amazing!
I create custom clay and tile work for individuals, businesses, and the public. I also teach beginning mosaic workshops for groups of four or more. You can see my other work at missmosaic.com and during the upcoming Contemporary Mosaic Artists summit in Ashland the first weekend of October and the Clayfolk Show in November!

For more information, please contact Karen Rycheck at 541-621-6239.