PEWEE VALLEY, Ky. (May 2004) And down the stretch they
come! Well, sort of. An artistic stampede of past Kentucky Derby
winners and recreations of the mythical Pegasus horse are grazing
on city streets around Louisville and outlying areas.
Ben Bridwell, an up and coming metal artist from Pewee Valley, heard
about this event from a friend. He saw Gallopalooza as a once in a
Familiar with Chicagos 1997 Cows on Parade, an event
that helped spawn Gallopalooza, Bridwell submitted ideas to a sponsor
pool along with other local and national artists. I like a challenge,
he said of his efforts to design two horses in this Sidewalk Derby
that will generate national focus on the Louisville Metro area.
Bridwell with one of his creations.
Bridwell, 37, submitted two drawings of Pegasus horses to Gallopalooza
officials. Not receiving an immediate response, he forgot about the
project. While on a business trip to Texas, he received a call from
WLKY-32 TV officials interested in his ideas.
Station officials favored his work but wanted him to create a different
look for the horse they had chosen, Whirlaway. Together with the news
station, Bridwell came up with the idea to mount a helicopter on the
horses back. This was symbolic of the WLKY-32 TV news chopper.
The finished thoroughbred sports an aluminum helicopter mounted on
its back. It is operated by solar power and has flashing lights. An
employee of D&D Automotive in Crestwood painted it with automotive
paint to exactly match its news chopper counterpart.
Whirlaway is one of more than 200 140-pound life-size fiberglass horses
that have been decorated for Gallopalooza. A company in Gibbon, Neb.,
that creates fiberglass animals has provided the equine figures. The
horses are displayed in a variety of positions: prancing, standing
still, some with wings and some with jockeys.
The artists were pretty much given free range, said Gallopalooza
co-coordinator Lynn Huffman. The horses left their padlocks on April
29 during the Pegasus Parade and will be on display until mid-October
The Louisville Visual Art Association helped locate artists for this
project. Each artist received a tax-deductible commission of $1,500
for their efforts.
Elizabeth George, the associations executive director, was also
chair of the Artistic Committee designated to finding artists for
this project. She said a call for entries was sent out in November
2003. Artists were asked to sketch an outline for their entry, something
that would be appropriate for public display.
Sponsors include area businesses, community leaders or individuals.
The horses may be placed in front of the sponsoring business until
October, when the sponsor has the option to purchase their horse for
an additional donation of $5,000. Horses not bought will be auctioned
off at Churchill Downs, with half of the proceeds from the sale going
to Brightside, and the other half to the purchasers designated
Gallopalooza was the brainchild of John Conti, owner of John Conti
Coffee Co. and Hank Wagoner, president of Jewish Hospital Healthcare
Services. The two men approached Louisville Metro area Mayor Jerry
Abramson and formed a committee in late July 2003.
Bridwell also designed a horse for Z Salon & Spa, located on Hurstbourne
Lane and Shelbyville Road. This creation, ZBiscuit, is a spin-off
from Sea Biscuit, said Bridwell. It is a prancing horse, with front
foot raised and mane and tail blowing in the wind. To give the horse
a quality unique to its sponsor, Bridwell gave it what he calls a
He placed 2,000, 1-inch copper ribbons on the mane and tail, to give
the filly the appearance of wind blowing through its hair. It was
painted with a distinctive copper mica color, said Bridwell, which
is actually a Hundai automotive paint that gives the horse a shimmering,
For the last four years, Bridwell has operated his own business, Millennium
Steel Werks. He creates whimsical aluminum and stainless steel sculptures,
which can be found for sale at his wifes La Grange business,
Sign of the Times, Too.
Ive always been really creative, the Western Kentucky
University graduate said. He learned how to weld three years ago after
attending an art show and viewing metal artwork.
He participates in four art shows a year and was recently featured
in the Louisville Visual Art Associations Dinnerworks
2004. George said his exhibit was a stunning glass table, complete
with centerpieces. Bridwell currently has work on display in Utica,
Ind., at Bob Hills Hidden Hill Farm.
For more information on Gallopalooza visit: www.gallopaloozaderby.com
or call Huffman at (502) 574-4030.