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Oct. 12, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Horse sculpture storms equestrian center

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Storm Harbor Equestrian Center has a new "horse and rider" on site - "Iron Horseman." Pittsburgh artist Tim Kaulen donated the steel sculpture to the center for a permanent display.

Kaulen, named Pittsburgh Artist of the Year in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, said the equestrian center expressed an interest in "Iron Horseman," and he gifted it because he likes the center's educational focus. Storm Harbor teaches SRU students to lead riding activities for community clients with disabilities.

"Once I saw the facility and began to learn more about the mission of the equestrian center, it became pretty clear that it was a good fit for the sculpture and that the center would provide a good home," Kaulen said.

"Iron Horseman" is nine feet tall and weighs 1,500 pounds. The piece includes metal caging for hanging potted plants. Storm Harbor staff planted sweet potato vines that will eventually cascade to the ground

"It is a great outdoor addition to the center," said Courtney Gramlich, Storm Harbor director. "Tim Kaulen, the artist, so generously donated the sculpture to be a permanent fixture here. It is a great focal point when you drive up to the center, sitting right in front of the barn. It will also be neat to see how the 'Iron Horseman' takes on a subtle change throughout the seasons due to its natural component of plants coming out of the mane and tail area."

Kaulen said he used steel from a former smokestack at a Pittsburgh brewery he inherited from an arts organization. "A lot of my work is based on reusing materials," he said.

His inspiration for the statue came from old-fashioned tin toys.

"What intrigues me as an artist is I generally try to identify interests that will propel me to complete a work," he said. "I like the idea of exaggerating small objects into larger forms. I think the sculpture is very dynamic, and it has a great site and it's very complete. I feel lucky that it captured the interest of the equestrian center."

Kaulen said he worked on the piece and two other steel sculptures for nine months. The pieces were originally displayed in Pittsburgh.

Kaulen said he has always been fascinated with sculpture and architecture and large-scale public works art.

"Using a combination of recycled materials and objects, I connect materials within a selected environment, uniting them in a new and balanced manner, where they ultimately create a platform for public interaction and response," he said. "Synthesizing these experiences to create sculpture has been an ongoing method for much of my career and has provided me with the opportunity to reflect on important historical ideas in a succinct, deliberative and challenging way, which resonates in my work."

Born in Greenville, Kaulen studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he worked with the late painter Henry Koerner and earth artist Angelo Ciotti. Kaulen said his mentors inspired him to create outside the conventions of commercial art.

Kaulen said many of the materials he uses for sculptures are donated by scrap yards.

"By building with recycled materials within selected environments, the resulting work reflects a historical and social significance, as well as challenges the boundaries of more traditional sculpture and architecture," he said.

Kaulen's art has been exhibited at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Allegheny College. He has lectured or completed residencies at Carnegie Mellon University, East Tennessee State University, Rogers Elementary School in the Shaler Area School District and the Pittsburgh Children's Museum.

Storm Harbor offers an indoor riding arena and is equipped with 12 horse stalls, a tack room and 13 acres of pasture and trails.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.