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Horse Mania auction gallops in new hope for Kentucky tornado victims

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Posted at 11:00 PM, Dec 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-02 23:00:16-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Keeneland looked more like a red carpet than a racetrack on Friday night as people packed into the sales pavilion for an art auction.

“Tonight is a big night for LexArts and our arts community,” said Ame Sweetall, CEO and president of LexArts.

For months, more than one hundred painted horses have trotted through the streets of Lexington, posing for photos and bringing life to a community clouded by COVID. The project, Horse Mania, is a product of LexArts.

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“Post pandemic, the arts sector needs help more than ever. It's been a hard comeback for the arts,” said Sweetall.

In helping the arts rebound, LexArts hosted its Horse Mania auction alongside its 50th anniversary party Friday night. Auctioning off the 34 remaining Horse Mania pieces along with custom Makers Mark bottles, funds will support LexArts.

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“This is one of our projects where we can ask the public to support what we do,” explained Sweetall. “When we do that, we take in funds and then we turn those right back around and into grants for our arts organizations, artists, and projects.”

Among the 34 horses auctioned off were three special Horse Mania pieces deemed “Horses of Hope.” In a collaboration between LexArts and Independence bank, these three horses were painted by students in tornado-impacted areas. Three Lexington artists assisted the students with the project.

“We’re wanting to make sure we're taking care of our neighbors and helping where we can with the arts, and the thing is, these horses are gonna turn around and go right back to those communities so hopefully that brings a little spark of hope, joy, and funds back to that community as well,” said Sweetall.

According to Sweetall, the Horses of Hope will be permanently displayed in Graves, Hopkins, and Warren counties as a symbol of resilience and a reminder of the power of art.