Despite some of the love by city leaders and artists for the tall standing horse sculpture outside of City Hall, the time has come to put the artwork out to pasture.
After more than two years of towering over passers-by near the City Hall entrance facing Howell Avenue, the horse sculpture made of recycled metal was removed Thursday morning to be taken to its new home near the Dazzio Art Experience in St. Petersburg.
City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha reiterates that the artwork was on loan to the city for display, which she said the city is fortunate to have thanks to artist James Oleson, a former Brooksville resident.
"The horse is riding out today, which is always sad," Norman-Vacha said. "But the good news is we'll have another one riding in soon, which is always exciting."
Oleson, who was on hand as city utilities crewmembers helped load the horse sculpture onto his vehicle, said his next horse sculpture will once again be more life-size, this time made out of stainless steel, and will likely take on a galloping pose.
His first sculpture also was more life-size and made of recycled materials and welded together. City officials and residents alike were first led to believe that the artwork was donated to the city, which is why it caused a stir when the horse disappeared when it was sold to an art gallery in Jacksonville.
Oleson then replaced it roughly a month later with the much taller horse that he was still putting pieces on as it was being bolted into the ground outside of City Hall. The horse sculpture has remained there since March 2010.
He joked that along with residents coming by to see the first sculpture, some also enjoyed riding on it — something that was much more difficult to do when the taller replacement was installed.
"I didn't make it that tall to prevent people from hopping on it," Oleson said. "But this next sculpture, people will probably be able to hop on it. That's not meant for that, but it will be welded strong enough and I'm sure some people will give it a try."
Norman-Vacha, meanwhile, said she is hoping that Oleson can finish the sculpture and donate it to the city prior to Christmas, adding that City Hall and art gallery employees are looking forward to it.
"It really does provide a lot of exposure to the art gallery, which a lot of people don't even realize it is at City Hall," Norman-Vacha said. "None of us are sure what exactly it will look like, so I'm sure it will be a big surprise when it gets here."