Louisville’s Favorite Horror & Heavy Metal Artist, Jeff Gaither, Creates Two Art Horse Monstrosities for Gallopalooza 2015!

We visit Jeff Gaither in the Derby Festival’s downtown studio stable to get a sneak peek at his two Gallopalooza horse designs set to be unleashed on the city the weekend of April 17-19th!

Greetings, undead Derby fans, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the Gallopalooza stable where dozens of life sized, fiberglass horse statues (and a few giant mint julep cups) are being brought to vivid life by a small army of local artists. When completed, these equestrian marvels will haunt the businesses and city sidewalks of their sponsors throughout 2015.

You may know Jeff Gaither’s trademark style by his work with Guns N’ Roses, Van Halen, Testament, the Accused and the Misfits. Last year we were treated to a visit to his haunted castle on South 3rd Street (http://www.louisvillehalloween.com/the-house-of-gaither-investigating-the-criminally-insane-art-of-jeff-gaither/ ) where we got a look at some of his latest work. This week I got a chance to watch the artist at work putting the finishing touches on one of two horses he was hired to design for the 2015 Gallopalooza project.

How did the self-proclaimed “Artist for the Criminally Insane” become involved in one of the city’s most visible events in the Kentucky Derby Festival?

“I submitted two designs for horses this year,” says Gaither, “neither of which they used.”

“Instead,” he continues, “I brought my portfolio with me to a meet-and-greet event with the sponsors looking for an artist to design their horse. There were designs all over the walls, like an art gallery, and business owners were walking around looking at them.”

“The owners of Masterson’s Catering seemed interested in my style, but not the designs I had created for the event,” Gaither admits. “Instead, they were flipping through my portfolio and said, ‘That’s it!’ and pointed to something I had done earlier this year that had nothing to do with Gallopalooza.”

The design that floored the owners of Masterson’s was actually a vinyl action figure that Jeff had painted for the Munny Art Show at Ultra Pop! (https://www.facebook.com/UltraPopShop?fref=ts), a local art and designer vinyl toys collectibles shop.

Munny is a blank vinyl toy made by an American toy company called Kidrobot. The Munny figures are made to be designed and painted by the purchaser, and have become popular as commissioned pieces of art by famous artists across the country.

Kerry Caufield of Caufield’s Novelty built and helped install the steel wings,” says Gaither who has a longstanding working relationship with the legendary novelty company. In fact, in a Louisville Halloween EXCLUSIVE, Jeff revealed to us that he and Kerry Caufield are working on a series of six vacuform, vintage style Halloween masks this summer for release later this year. These masks will be original Gaither designs that pay homage to the classic Halloween masks made by Collegeville and Ben Cooper from the 1950’s through the 1980’s.

Jeff promised us that we would be the first to see and publish the mask designs once completed!

When it came to completing the first horse, JamesSnook Gray of SK Kustoms body shop helped with information and materials for installing the wings on the horse body.

“It just came out of my head,” says Gaither about the Masterson’s horse design. “It took about two months to complete, working almost every day. That’s all I’ve done for the last two months is work, paint and sleep.”

The second horse Gaither also worked on was a collaboration with local artist, Jeremy Slaven, for Tom Hirsch/Raymond James Financial. That horse is an American eagle themed creation meant to inspire the rebounding American economy.

Jeff wanted us to give his thanks to Girard’s Hardware on South 3rd Street for helping him find the right supplies and materials as well as for providing helpful instructions on how to use them for a project of this scale. He also wants to express his thanks to Porter Paints at Iroquois Manor for suggesting the right primers and paints for both the fiberglass and the steel parts of both horses.

This year, Gallopalooza is partnering with the Waterfront Development Corporation and part of the funds raised from the sponsorship and sale of the art horses will go towards funding the LED lighting project on the Big Four Bridge. Gallopalooza also continues its partnership with Brightside and their efforts to create a “Ninth Street Gateway” into Louisville.

You can come downtown and see Jeff Gaither’s amazing horses in person on the weekend of April 17-19 at the public unveiling event sponsored by Computershare. The event will take place at 708 W Magazine Street at the corner of 8th and Magazine Streets. Tickets are $5 at the door and children 3 years old and under are FREE. Friday evening hours are 5 – 9 PM. Saturday hours are from 9 AM to 4 PM which is the same day as Thunder over Louisville, so make sure to stop in before the fireworks. Sunday hours are 1 – 5 PM, and Jeff will be there with his Tom Hirsch/Raymond James Financial sponsors to talk about the project, meet the public and sign autographs.

We’ll update you on the status of those Jeff Gaither/Kerry Caufield vintage style, vacuform Halloween masks later this summer. Until then, I’ll be back soon with much more news of the strange and unusual as it comes in from throughout the Derby City.

The Phantom of The Ville

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