Official games painting is unveiled

The official commemorative painting of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games was unveiled Tuesday at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Games organizers said the painting by New York sports artist LeRoy Neiman will be displayed in cities around the state to build support for the 16 days of equine competition in 2010 that will decide eight world championships.

The painting, which will be permanently displayed at the park after the Games, is roughly 48 inches tall and 65 inches wide in its frame. It shows each of the eight events in bright reds, blues, greens and yellows that are typical of Neiman's work.

The 87-year-old artist also did the official painting for the 37th Ryder Cup golf tournament in Louisville in August as well as for five Olympiads and four Super Bowls.

Neiman was unable to attend Tuesday's ceremony, but he sent a recorded message in which he expressed his love for horses and Kentucky.

There's "something wonderful" about painting the best horses, he said.

"I've got a great respect for a beautiful animal. I've been around horses. My father and my uncle owned a bunch of horses. I like the grace of it and the form. I really love the aesthetics of it," Neiman said.

The job of the artist is to reflect "the excitement, the movement, the danger, the beauty, the sounds, everything — there is so much there" about the animal, he said.

Neiman also praised Kentuckians for their knowledge of horses and whisky. "They're connoisseurs," he said. "There could be no better setting for horse events than there."

Neiman's agent, Ben Isaacs of Cobalt Artworks in Louisville, said Neiman feels the Games painting is one of the best creations of his long career.

"LeRoy's piece can be an ambassador in its own way," Isaacs said. "It's a walking billboard that promotes the Equestrian Games, Kentucky, and the beauty of the horse and the beauty of LeRoy's art."

He said an exhibit of Neiman's other paintings is being planned for Lexington in 2010, probably at a downtown site. A similar exhibit took place in Louisville during the Ryder Cup.