Travers Weekend always offers the opportunity to experience something new: someone, somewhere, sets up shop in or around the famed Saratoga Race Course--and before you know it, your heart has stopped dead in its tracks; your imagination is running wild and you fall in love with a horse, person or form of expression which--just ten minutes ago--was foreign to your life and experience.
Your spirit is renewed: you see the universe around you with eyes and a heart that has been regenerated by the pure soul of another. That other may become your best friend; favorite horse or guru--regardless of the relationship that is forged, your Life after that first chance meeting is never again the same.
A human who has fallen in love--but it's so-much-more than mere "love," it's a spiritual awakening--a person who, once awakened from the sleep of ordinary life--is forever changed for the better. Eyes sparkle from the place deep within, from that place from which you originally bellowed the announcement that you were born, and that the world should welcome you with open arms and hearty relief that you're finally here.
You may experience a horse or jockey whose victories against insurmountable odds encourages you to find your own race and speed across the finish line first.
You may meet another human soul who seems to know more about Life than you, who has something of tremendous insight to share. These beings--equine and human, alike--who have that power to transform their own lives and inform ours--are rare, but available to instruct if we're willing to perceive the world differently than before. We can learn from others only if we are like newborn foals: bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; ready to learn and eager to stand and run across the green fields simply because the wind in your mane feels like nothing you've ever known.
Brian T. Fox, the renowned Boston artist and philanthropist, is just one such guru, a man of tremendous depth and layers of understanding. Upon meeting the painter for the first time, I was rather convinced that he knew more about The Meaning of Life than I. He was quite young four years ago, but physical age has nothing to do with spiritual age or insight. Very old souls like Brian travel timelessly because they are not confined to the three dimensions of which we know. It may appear at first glimpse that he paints in three dimensions, but the truth of the matter is that Brian T. Fox has wrangled something with many more dimensions and angles than the human eye can perceive--but that which the soul recognizes intuitively, exhaling a sigh of relief. "Here," saith the soul, "is a spirit that can reach deeply within and find me."
That moment of recognition--that an artist of such breadth and wisdom has the ability to meet us at the very sinew of our lives--unfortunately is a moment that is never realized for many. But for those few fortunate enough to be in the cosmically-right place and time, if paths cross and the convergence, realized--Life can be changed for the good and for ever.
The first time I met Brian, it was at a fund-raiser in Saratoga, hosted by a mutual friend. Everyone in the room noticed the artist--it was impossible not to see that the exotic-looking, handsome young man, standing tall and straight as the pines in the backyard--was perhaps of a different origin as we.
I don't mean that we wondered if perchance he was Aboriginal American, or Latino--no, something about his eyes told us that, although he dined with us that evening, he was tuned in to a different wavelength, he resided on a plane that most have visited only in a Sci-Fi film. That place at which multidimensional life and art cross paths is precisely the spot wherever he stands, hands-on-hips, legs akimbo, heart ready to read the messages being sent from realms beyond our fragile third rock from the Sun.
He stood out markedly--and a breath of air energized the room with his "differentness. We had to wonder if we were right, that there's a touch of darkness in that gorgeous, charming smile that may have been informed somehow by pain. That curiosity melted after a minute, as we--I--embraced the notion that great art is always a mixture of pain and glorious joy, and that, whatever road the artist had traveled to get to that place and that time--it was his correct path.
We in Saratoga are blessed, in that this artist who woos us with his colors and takes us captive by his black-and white--this man of otherworldly talent and vision will paint, live, outside Siro's during Travers weekend 2009. The subject of his painting will be no less than the best Thoroughbred in North America, the Queen who is taking on the world--Rachel Alexandra. Lest you think that Fox is a one-trick pony, his path to great equine art has taken him from his original love, of fantasy art, which was nurtured while working on his B.F.A. at The University of Massachusetts (from which he received his degree in 1990).
His Disney-exclusive portraits of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow are world-known: Depp, himself, must approve of every painting, which then finds its way into the high-end Disney gallery in Orlando.
This man is a creator of many talents and passions, but perhaps none so impressive on the work he does on behalf of charities. Every year, thousands of dollars are raised by the sale of his portraits of sports figures. His reason for working so hard on behalf of the world outside his studio is simple: "Regarding charity...I believe that God didn't lend me this ability to keep to myself. So I try to help as much as I can at the same time trying to provide for my family..."
This community consciousness, coming from an artist of such formidable talents, is unusual. Too many gifted people in every arena--arts, industry alike--are self-absorbed, living an insular life that excludes all but themselves and the need to feed their creative edge. The fact that Brian Fox is concerned with the well-being of so many others, and recognizes that his work can help heal the world is testimony to his centeredness and selfless spirit.
As a writer in the sport of Thoroughbred racing, I am, like many other racetrackers, naturally suspicious of anyone who enters our circle looking to make a buck. Many "artists" have adopted Thoroughbreds as a theme, simply because it can make obscene gobs of money for them. They then take this ill-gotten gain and use it to buy more supplies for their real passion, or a slick new wardrobe that will add to the aura when they make an entrance with their entourage.
Brian T. Fox is not one of those pseudo-artists, a flavor du jour. His equine art springs from the place of absolute respect for the equine species and an understanding of God's own respect for the horse. This understanding of the species and of our human connection far transcends even that of the most well-established equine artists, for--in my humble opinion--anyone who recognizes that God is the source of those animals whose very eyes transport us back in time and space to Eden--must be an artist of profound spirit, a teacher whose instruction can enlighten, encourage and inspire.
Also Sprache Brian:
"...I love animals anyway, so that is one of the reasons I am drawn (no pun intended) to the horse. The horse is of interest to me on so many levels: My love of animals, my love of sports (funny how human athletes today are always compared to Thoroughbreds)...and also on a spiritual level."
"...anyone who spends any time with horses can attest to that. There is something about the spirit of a horse. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is when God is questioning Job, (Job 39:19) and He asks Job many questions, one being, .'Hast thou given the horse strength, Hast thou clothed his neck with Thunder?!?'"
"What an appropriate description of the horse. And that is the thing I am always after in any painting with a horse (although I doubt I will ever really get it completely): Strength and Thunder."
Brian Fox: His insistence on truthfulness in representation sacrifices nothing in artistic integrity: his brush strokes bring emotion, depth and insight onto the canvas as he reads the inner workings of his subjects. The renowned human sports figures who have graced his easel include Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling and David Ortiz; Olympic multi-medalist, Michael Phelps and the immortal Jackie Robinson. His Thoroughbred Champions series includes Ghostzapper, Funny Cide, Sun King and now, the woman who is one of the greatest horses ever to grace an oval, Rachel Alexander.
Join us at Siro's during Travers weekend, and meet Brian T. Fox. Stand breathless as he finds the immortal spirit of Rachel Alexandra, as seen through the prism of Pegasus and Epona. Get to know a man who knows the Divine, whose respect for all of God's creatures creates some of the most beautiful, throbbing and enthralling art you will ever experience. Welcome Brian to Saratoga, and come away with the knowledge that you, too, can find the art in your own soul. You may not be an artist, but the same spirit of life that takes the image from Fox's head and heart, through his hands and brush--is available for you to harness, also. As always--May the Horse be with you, as is the Horse with--in, by, through and about--Brian T. Fox, my favorite artist on this very physical planet. Brian's art breaks the chains that confine us to this plane, and for that I am grateful--eternally.
[All photos courtesy of Brian Fox Studios.]