When I was a little squirt, my Mother nicknamed me both "Mare" (how prophetic) and The Barefoot Contessa. (I had no idea that she got the phrase from the title of a hotsy-totsy film starring Ava Gardner.) For some reason, Mom associated my penchant for going naturally-footed with my Italian ancestry on my Father's side. I think she thought I'd grow up to be Sophia Loren. When she was feeling fanciful, she'd wave her arm and pronounce grandly that I was La Barefoot Contessa Ahl-TYE-ree, attempting to properly pronounce my foreign surname which (in the 1960's, in upstate New York) sounded to the locals to be tres exotic.
To me, shoes were an unnecessary cultural construct, created solely to be tolerated on Sundays as I sat cross-ankled, wedged between Mom and Gram in our stark, white Presbyterian church.
The minute church was over, I ripped off the white patent leather Mary Janes and tossed them into my Mother's waiting hand. She never tried to cut off the call of Nature to my wild-child heart, for which I am grateful. I rode my cousin's Quarter Horse barefoot, also--a singularly remarkable experience.
My favoritest, most freeing thing to do was to wear a long skirt and run out into our overgrown grassy yard. Grabbing a bunch of lilacs as they clung desperately to Grandma's huge, treasured lilac bush (they saw me coming, and ducked their fat little heads)--I relished that first big sniff. Then, my head full of that fragrant opiate, I commenced to twirl 'round and 'round in the tall, soft green beneath my liberated toes. I'd spin until I dizzied out, and collapse into that grass, under the sacred purple bush. I can still feel the cool dampness of the unmown grass as it wrapped itself around me like so many tiny green angels' wings. Staring up at the clear blue skies, my young spirit knew absolute freedom--the kind of bliss for which adults pay millions of dollars a year to self-help gurus and bookstores. I often go back to that place and that time in a frail attempt to recapture some of that unbridled bliss...
The heart of a child is capable of seeing and experiencing things far beyond the ken of "responsible adults." Put that tender heart in cahoots with the overwhelming blessing of the natural world as God made it--this is pre-Fall Eden.
I have a friend who experiences this freedom on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. Her life's work; her passion and her avocational efforts all spring from this eternally-young place. She may be 40 or 3,000 years old, or has no age attached to her being, at all. She lives and moves and breathes a connection so deep, so penetrating, with the natural Universe that she sees horses in blue and fuchsia, smiling at dogs who always stand on their hind legs and wear berets.
The amazing thing about Marti McGinnis is that, unlike many of us who would be tempted to retreat into the world of such a brilliant mind, and stay there--she takes her great visions and puts them on canvas and computer, and gives them to the rest of us. The world looks differently to her, because it is informed by the contents of her very pure soul, a being which has not been sullied by three-dimensional "reality." Marti knows that reality is what we make it, and she lavishly, generously shares her reality with we in the outside world.
We, who remember the days when we saw a horse and knew that she was blue, in her most-real self. We who remember--but have been overwhelmed by societal demands that we "grow up"--and so the blue horses are relegated to their quiet stalls in the back of our fond remembrances.
In a nutshell: I want to live in Marti McGinnis' head.
In an Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass move, I want to just take my satchel full of mementos and my cat, Pandora, and step into that place where American Paint Horses do tricks just because they can, and horses on the auction block at Keeneland think to themselves, "OK, that was weird..."
But I would be telling only a fraction of the story if I let you think that Marti McGinnis, Artist/Conjurer of Many Dimensions, sits placidly in her lovely Kentucky home and thinks solely about which Mexican Festival jewel tones will adorn a painted pony. While those colors and her ability to see farther than the average bear are the tools which inform her big vision--they serve as the foundation and framework of some very grounded work as she maneuvers deftly through the world of horse rescue and advocacy. I speculate that her left brain must wage war for control, for her marketing education, experience and talents are on display at www.StudioMudio.com . If you seek marketing that is fun, insightful and so far beyond the big yawn of Madison Avenue--Studio Mudio is your one-stop shop.
It is precisely because Marti knows that a dark bay horse may really be yellow with polka dots--the fact that she can see into the inner workings of the equine species as a whole, and as individual beings--that she is so dedicated to making the world a safe haven for all equines. She knows that they're not just one-trick ponies, none of them: each and every equine has a role on the Earth, each contributes to the big spirit and every horse who is lost is a loss which cannot be gained back.
When pressed to describe her vocation--which cannot be separated from her Life--Marti gracefully conceded and gave me a quote:
"[I am]...a believer in uncovering and embracing one's own Life Purpose and addressing that by every means one finds attractive (where what you're attracted to and energized by is usually a good sign indicating stuff you're going to be good at and find success with) in order to lead an authentic and purposeful life."
"My work jobs HAVE to align with my Life's Purpose - or it doesn't work. Same too with my art. So my paintings are all upbeat, positive and can even be deeply mystical from a whimsical point of view. That is who I am. So that's the best way for it to work. Thus in that I have found my voice. Indeed, through these same means it is how I find others find their voice in more commercial endeavors."
Her wonderful, spiritually-uplifting art can be seen and purchased on www.happyart.com and www.songpony.etsy.com . Songpony is the place where her quantum connections converge to do great works for equine rescue. On Songpony, we learn that Marti has declared 2010 to be The Year of the Unicorn. This Unicorn connection may very well save the lives of thousands of horses, if Marti has any say. Her explanation, and her passion, revealed:
This is the Year of the Unicorn!
Nope, it's not some new entry on the Chinese Calendar - it is a new calendar with deep roots in applied optimism. Unicorns stand for:
and all manner of the Fantastic!
These three beauties were painted using the finest in French gouache paints on an archival quality thick water color paper. Each is signed by me, Marti McGinnis (www.martimcginnis.com) and each is a one of a kind original.
The proceeds benefit equine rescue.
Size: 5" x 7"
This series has been created to help defray some of the daily costs for running http://www.equineconnection.org - the global community for visionary equine welfare.
Purchases of Marti's art via Songpony and other venues go directly to the daily support of www.EquineConnection.org, a beautiful new social networking 'site and soon-to-be-foaled online magazine that Marti created as a place where those who are passionate about horse rescue can meet each other, share ideas and tips, get pumped, console each other and charge ahead in the (unfortunately) never-ending quest to save all equines from the ravages of soulless people who have no regard for equine rights and welfare. I am a proud member of Equine Connection, and encourage everyone who loves horses and who wants to work together to rescue as many as we can to join us. This magnificent 'site offers beautiful art and graphics; gorgeous fonts (important to we writerly types and others who cherish the written word) and the most-welcome chance to meet others who share our obsession with saving horses. This safe environment is bringing hearts, minds and cash together under one umbrella--as dialogue is exchanged, horses are saved. And that's the one thing that drives Marti McGinnis to get out of bed in the morning and storm the galaxy.
An avid blogger, her words of Wisdom--her words are also visual and spiritual art--can be drunk in at www.wegwag.com and www.mywalkwithmu.wordpress.com . (Mu being her beautiful Paint who looks to be as big as a house, and as gentle as a lamb.)
Whether you tune in to her frequency because you love horses; love art; are fond of reading beautiful words on lovely pages or are in dire need of meeting other spirits who understand how you feel about horses--all are welcome in the beautiful world created by the extraordinarily fast-firing synapses in the brain of Marti McGinnis. The fact that this lovely woman takes smiling pink horses and plops them down in front of us, giving the world great joy is only half the story: her toothy, beautiful equines dance on the world stage in order to draw attention to a very ugly reality in the three-dimensional world. That every day in America and around the world, equines of all colors--and stripes--are being abused and mistreated. The little girl in me, she who danced barefoot on wet grass and on the back of a horse--hates this fact. The woman in me grew up to detest the sinful actions of those who betray the natural relationship between horse and human hates it even more.
In my friend, Marti McGinnis, I have found an ally who speaks to both little Mare, The Barefoot Contessa--and to The Alpha Mare, the big-mouthed broad who is determined to make the pain end for the horses.
If Marti is my ally, she is a heroine to every horse whose cries she hears as she stands at her easel and paints. She paints for the horses. She paints to create life, and to save it. However you paint your Life, remember to dig deep inside, find your own horses in their own colors--and use your inner gifts to create a world that is safe for all creatures, great and small. Ponies and Percherons, all are beloved of God. And Marti McGinnis is a saint in the halls of Heaven, a worker bee whose very being is tuned-in, 24/7, to hear the cry of the horse--and to translate that cry into art and salvation for all equines, on this planet and dimensions beyond.
As always...May the Horse be with you.
Equine Connection logo,
"MuMu the Wise,"
photo of Marti McGinnis at Fasig-Tipton Sales,
"Yellow Pony and Bunny,"
"Parelli Four Personalities,"
"Three Fantasy Horses,"
"Equine Connection Magazine" cover,
MuMu and Marti, Horsing Around photo and
"Keeneland Sales" courtesy of Marti McGinnis.
Photo of Faith, a/k/a, Buddy (a beautiful, rescued horse): courtesy of Easy Street Horse Rescue.
Thank you, everyone!]