Piper Klemm Ph.D. Publisher’s Note- April 2017

To read more from TPH’s April 2017 Equine Business issue, CLICK HERE

ARE HUNTERS ART?

I am no artist. The pen, the paintbrush, the hunk of clay – they do not take form in my hands. But, when I see art, I feel it. At first, it was all about The Classics. I did not have the perspective to understand or to feel Modern Art. Now, I try to respond directly to what I see and not demand predictability in my reaction to the details or message in art.

 

THE HORN OF PLENTY, A DRESS MADE OF BLACK DUCK FEATHERS IN MCQUEEN’S 2011 SAVAGE BEAUTY EXHIBIT AT THE METROPLOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NY

My job demands a lot of travel so I try to take time when I’m on the road to explore the creative. The Legion of Honor is my favorite San Francisco excursion, complete with the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. The de Young Museum (also in San Fransico) had a mesmerizing Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit a few years ago, and I keep a print of Wayne Thiebaud’s “Three Gumball Machines” from an exhibit in my home office. When I did the math on Van Gogh’s daily, weekly, and monthly lifetime production, it inspired productivity in me that has lasted for years!

 

The single most impactful artistic experience for me was Alexander McQueen’s 2011 “Savage Beauty” exhibit at the Met (NY) in 2011. It expanded my understanding of the tortured soul, the loneliness and isolation of being a peerless visionary, and – similar to the Van Gogh exhibit in Amsterdam – it showed an unfathomable volume of work.
 
 

Recently, I spent a wonderful evening at the San Francisco Ballet where I saw people pushing their physical and artistic boundaries to new limits. The George Balanchine-choreographed ballet “Diamonds,” with music composed by Tchaikovsky, was mesmerizing. I saw people who took their natural gifts, body types, and athleticism, and stretched, strained, devoted themselves, and studied until, ultimately, they created art.

 

And, somewhere in the middle of this experience, I got to thinking… Are hunters art? We endeavor to take horses with natural aptitude for the sport and stretch, train, strain, and devote them, ultimately creating exquisite jumps, perfect cadence, and seamless performance.

 
“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition.” – Alexander McQueen
I have never consciously considered hunters as artists or their rounds as artistic performances before. But was the ballet on stage so different from watching Louise Serio, John French, or Jenny Karazissis in the ring?

 

 
 
PIPER AND SUNDAE IN THE DESERT ADULT HUNTERS AT HITS COACHELLA 2017. PHOTO © AMY DRAGOO

Horsemen and skeptics may say, “Those ballerinas choose that life. They choose to practice for hours each day, to destroy their feet, to do God-knows-what to their bodies in order to stay at the top of their game. They choose their devotion.” But as horsemen, we all know horses that want to win; the ones who like to practice, to compete and win, to inspire expression, and create perfection. These are the ones that make us gasp at the beauty of their jump. These are the ones that we clamor to watch. Catch Me clearly likes the stress, the tension, the drama, the lights, the applause – or else he wouldn’t do it. There is no forcing that performance.

 

 
Most horses, like most ballerinas, never make it to the top of their game, and in the mid-range may have less risk for injury, less stress, less investment in the outcome, and more reasonable challenges. Plenty of things can show up to sully art – money, desire, greed. The need for prestige and accolades leads many astray. Obviously, our sport contains people with flawed motives and misguided actions. But, I think that the majority of horsemen understand that a good horse wants to succeed. And, in a beautiful performance created by the synchronicity between horse and rider and horse and trainer, we evoke emotion in the audience. We create art.
 

So, are hunters art? Yes, they are. Agreed, some art is more amateurish than others. When I ride, it is not Met-worthy, but I have a blast in the process of creating, trying, experimenting, and aspiring. Does anything embody art more that that?

 

BY PIPER KLEMM, PHD

To read more from TPH’s April 2017 Equine Business issue, CLICK HERE

By Piper Klemm Ph.D. – Publisher, The Plaid Horse

Piper began her tenure as the Publisher of The Plaid Horse Magazine in 2014. She received her B.S. with Honors in Chemistry from Trinity College [Hartford, CT] in 2009 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012. She is an active member of the hunter/jumper community, owning a fleet of lease ponies and showing in adult hunter divisions. Her goal is that everyone would take the time to be as educated about horsemanship and hunter/jumper sport as possible.


About the Author: Piper began her tenure as the Publisher of The Plaid Horse Magazine in 2014. She received her B.S. with Honors in Chemistry from Trinity College [Hartford, CT] in 2009 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012. She is an active member of the hunter/jumper community, owning a fleet of lease ponies and showing in adult hunter divisions.
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