Gallopalooza rides again in 2009
Preparations are well under way to do a repeat of the local painted-fiberglass-horse phenomenon known as Gallopalooza. Five years after the first Gallopalooza in 2004, officials are planning and raising funds to stable about 200 new, freshly colored, nearly life-sized horses across Metro Louisville next spring. The 2004 program brought a flock of tourists to see the decorated horses. About 100 of the original 230, in four different poses, remain on public display. Some 80 others adorn back yards, gardens and other private property, said Lynn Huffman, executive director of Gallopalooza Inc., the nonprofit organization set up by businessman John Conti to organize the promotion. “Gallopalooza brought joy to viewers of all ages,” said Matt Thornton, CEO of Thorntons Inc. and co-chairman of the 2009 project with his wife, Fran. Thorntons is the presenting sponsor of Gallopalooza 2009; proceeds will benefit primarily Brightside, a nonprofit organization that promotes beautification and a clean community. The horses in 2004 were designed with a Kentucky Derby-winners theme. The 2009 theme will be “Possibility City,” the catch phrase that is being used in an ongoing advertising campaign to promote Louisville. Huffman said a committee of local artists will again pre-approve the proposed painting scheme on each horse. She said themes cannot reflect violence, religion, sex, politics or advertisements. However, Louisville’s skylines, images of local icons such as the Belle of Louisville or Muhammad Ali, or that reflect neighborhood sites would be welcome themes, she said.
Corporations and nonprofit agencies will be encouraged to “buy” a horse. If a sponsor ponies up $3,000, Gallopalooza Inc. will find an artist and pay him or her $1,500 to paint the horse. Or, the sponsor can put up $4,500 for a horse and choose its own artist, Huffman said. She said she expects the fiberglass horses to arrive from Weber Group Inc. of Sellersburg, Ind., sometime this fall, and that all of them will be in the artists’ hands by the end of January. The deadline for decorating the horses is March 27. They will be shown at a public preview April 9-11, and all or most of the horses will be at their sites across the city by early May, in time for the Kentucky Derby. The four poses of the 2009 horse statues are a high-stepping horse, one that is racing full stride and a third that is a playful foal. The fourth pose will be chosen by an online vote that begins today at The Courier-Journal’s Web site, www.courier-journal.com. There are three choices — an “origami” walking horse, a horse shaped like the knight chess piece and a horse in repose that also can function as a bench.
Anyone can vote once a day through Aug. 27, Huffman said.
So far Gallopalooza Inc. has raised about $600,000, including about $350,000 worth of in-kind corporate commitments, for the program. The agency would like to raise several hundred thousand dollars more.
The in-kind pledges include Bee Line Courier to transport the horses, Swope Auto Group to apply a protective coating to the horses, and the Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center to “stable” the horses while artists paint them. Among the cash gifts, Thorntons is putting up $75,000 as the presenting sponsor, while Brown-Forman, Kindred, Texas Roadhouse and Yum! Brands are each donating $25,000. About 50 of the horses will be sold in a live auction in late October; the rest will be sold in an online auction soon after, Huffman said. As in 2004, Brightside will get all the proceeds from the sale of the horses, except for those that were sponsored by a nonprofit agency. In those cases, the sponsoring nonprofit will split the proceeds with Brightside, said its executive director, Cynthia Knapek.
Brightside made about $500,000 from the sale of the horses in 2004.
Other U.S. cities have had similar promotions. Chicago painted cows, and Cincinnati painted pigs. Lexington, Ky., painted horses and wildcats, Huffman said.
Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089.