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Fiberglas horse exhibit-auction raises $28,000

Sale helps YMCA, Arts Council

Gazette Reporter

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SARATOGA SPRINGS - "My Petite Fleur," a brown, Fiberglas-flowered colt was stolen, beaten, thrown into Schoharie Creek and locked in city jail as evidence. It was that story that prompted Brian Mercier of East Greenbush to buy the painted colt for his wife on Thursday for $3,500 during the Saratoga County Arts Council's "Horse Saratoga Style" exhibit and auction at the Saratoga National Golf Course. "The theft of the horse was a big part of my decision to buy it," Mercier said. "It has a very nice story."

    In all, a dozen Fiberglas painted horses were sold for approximately $28,000 to help the Saratoga YMCA children's programs and the Arts Council scholarship fund, according to Dee Sarno, executive director of the Arts Council. Despite the success on Thursday, Sarno said the Arts Council may take a year off before the next outdoor art exhibit.

    The city was hit with increased vandalism this summer, and the 23 painted horses that lined Broadway were frequent targets. Between June and August, more than a dozen city flower beds were trampled or torn up, two of the Fiberglas horses were stolen and at least two others were damaged. Still, Sarno said she has no regrets. "I would do it all again," Sarno said. "Maybe not next year, but I would do it again."

    Dozens of artists dedicated countless hours to the exhibit, Sarno said, and their work paid off. "There were so many pluses," she said. "Just the sheer excitement. . . . Families, grandparents and children were constantly taking their pictures with horses. It was almost like a scavenger hunt as they walked around trying to find each of the horses." Frankie Flores, a Glens Falls artist who painted two of the horses, said it was unfortunate that some people fail to see the beauty and ruined the exhibit for others. "It's sad," he said. Flores spent nearly 350 hours painting "Mardi Gras," a multicolored New Orleans piece, which sold at the auction for $4,500. He also spent more than 700 hours working on "A Champion's Day," which was purchased by the New York Racing Association and will be exhibited at all three NYRA race tracks.

    City Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Curley said the exhibit was a great benefit to the city. "It was just one more thing for people to enjoy," Curley said. "It was unfortunate that we had a problem." But the vandalism and horse thefts seemed to slow down in a hurry after a few people were arrested and charged with felonies, he said. "I think it sent a very clear message," Curley added. "It taught people to have some respect." The four individuals who were arrested are all awaiting court action, but Curley said he believes those cases have been put on hold for the time being.

    Assistant Police Chief James Cornick also conducted a four-week volunteer citizen watch to help curb vandalism and horse thefts. Once the watch began, the problems ended, he said.

    As for the horse exhibit, Sarno said she is very pleased with the interest and the proceeds that were raised. In addition to the $28,000 raised at Thursday's auction, Sarno said several thousand more was collected during previous sales this summer. Probably most noteworthy was the sale of "Talk of the Town," which John Hendrickson purchased for $23,000 as a Christmas present for his wife and socialite Marylou Whitney.
Contact Robin Cooper at 587-1780 or cooper@dailygazette.com.

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Letter to the Editor - The Saratogian Sept. 21, 2002

Thanks for rescuing 'My Petite Fleur'

Sept 15

I have just finished painting the repair work that has been done on the fiberglass pony, "My Petite Fleur." This letter is to thank Barbara Blanchard and Julie Smolinski and all of the people in their group who took the time not only to pull the sculpture from the water but to bring it back to Saratoga Springs.

Thank you also to the Saratoga Springs Police and the detective in Amsterdam. I am truly impressed that the people responsible for the theft were identified. When news reached me of the pony's disappearance, I thought it was gone for good.

If Saratoga Springs ever decides to host fiberglass sculptures again, I'll surely want to.

Linda Peterson

Round Lake

Man jailed for stealing fiberglass horse

BALLSTON SPA — A 20 year-old Amsterdam man was sentenced to 30 days in the Saratoga County jail for stealing a fiberglass horse in Saratoga Springs and throwing it in the Schoharie Creek last summer.   Eric P. Ross II was sentenced Wednesday in Saratoga County Court.  He will also have to serve 300 hours of community service and pay $1,300 in restitution for damage to the horse.

Ross was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, and petty larceny in August. He pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted grand larceny Wednesday.

The Saratoga County Arts Council sponsored the "Horses, Saratoga Style" exhibit of fiberglass horses at several locations throughout the county.

Three of the horses were vandalized in separate incidents.

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