Jeff Vrabel: Horse makes international painting debut

Jeff Vrabel

Horses, if we're being honest, are terrible at most things. They can't kick a field goal to save their lives, they can't drive a tractor, and they are completely useless when you ask them for help with your BlackBerry.

Just you try to get one to run an errand for you: Once I sent a horse to Target for bread, milk and paper towels — three super-easy, really basic things, right? — and six weeks later the idiot thing came back, and what did he have on his back? Yeah, that's right. Hay. Three bales of hay. Well to be fair, he also had bread and milk, but it had been so long that by the time Mr. Snuffles returned, I'd had bought my own like two weeks before anyway.

Yet I received word this week that though they still can't help me decide what to do with my 401(k), horses are getting better at one thing: art.

There is a horse in Reno, Nev. — I don't know why, but the geography is very pleasing to me — named Cholla who is a painter. He is a painter who is described in a news story of having "the fire of Pollock" or "the fixed gaze of Resnick," which would be extremely impressive-sounding sound bites if I had the remotest idea who Pollock or Resnick were. Frankly, I'm glad I've never met this Resnick. He sounds like one of those creepy fixed-gazers.

Cholla last month made his international painting debut, having been invited to exhibit his work at a juried art competition in Italy. Let's run through that again: A horse was invited to exhibit his art at a competition in Italy, meaning that unless you are in the top 2 percent of Painters In The World, you just got totally pwned by a large animal that, very likely, poops in a bag.

That paragraph, of course, desperately stretches the definition of the word "his" — of course Cholla will not be going to Italy, because you cannot put a horse on a plane, unless, of course, he's in a sealed plastic baggie and weighs less than 3 ounces.

Cholla will be at home, munching on dirt or doing whatever horses do, while his owners, or the people who are getting loaded off of horse art, go to Italy and do all the things he should be doing himself, like watching difficult art films, wearing a silly-looking beret and visiting George Clooney's place.

Cholla's painting "The Big Red Buck" is on display now at the Third International Art Prize Arte Laguna, in Mogliano Veneto, Italy.

“We have to admit that we did not expect the application of a horse,” Arte Laguna spokeswoman Cristina Del Favero said in a news story, adding that their animal paintings usually come from rhesus monkeys.

How is Cholla's art, you might ask? That you can check out yourself by going to the Web site — I swear on Cholla's gluey ancestors than this URL is not made up —

Perhaps a reader with more refined tastes can tell me how Cholla scores on the impressive-art meter, because to me it looks like what would happen if you jammed a paintbrush into a horse's mouth and left for three weeks, but whatever.

I think I'm just jealous because I have a 4-year-old son who can blow this guy out of the water. When Jake draws a bus, it looks like a bus, is what I'm saying, although it also sort of looks like a rocket and also sort of looks like a sponge — but I don't think he's getting invited to Italy anytime soon. Unless it's by Clooney.

Jeff Vrabel is a freelance writer whose 401(k) can be saved by nothing right now, not even a magic talking horse. He can be reached at