080219-art-Art and Soul image

Despite the canine’s sneakily abiding sinecure as “man’s best friend,” humanity has fostered an equally longtime special relationship with another creature altogether: the horse.

In literature or para-literature, by way of example, one need only think of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty or Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague – or reflect on the fact that the mid-1930s pulp adventures of the Lone Ranger always accorded the stallion Silver cover billing above the “faithful Indian companion” Tonto. In visual art, similarly, the works of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell often featured equestrian electricity of staggering ferocity.

All of the preceding loosely dovetails with Linda Briesacher’s Thirty Winters, a 20- by 16-inch acrylic on panel.

“The first thing you should know is that I’m passionate about wild horses,” relates Briesacher, a Clayton native now living in the town of Robertsville, roughly 40 miles southwest of Ladue. “They’re beautiful, majestic, fierce, gentle, family-oriented – and in danger of vanishing forever.

“That’s a thought I find completely unacceptable – and that’s why I paint wild horses and donate the proceeds from the sales of my paintings to support the groups who work to protect and keep them safe. Simple as that.”

A self-taught “emerging” artist, Briesacher started painting, in both acrylics and oils, in 2014. “I’d like to be able to tell you about my extensive art career, but I can’t,” she confesses wryly. “I started painting at the age of 60, when I retired.

“I started by taking lessons at a local gallery. Most of the rest of what I’ve learned has been through … well … just painting. I have loads of books, and I follow many, many artists whose work I admire. I try to learn through seeing and reading, but honestly, I think I’ve learned the most through just painting.

“I paint a lot – most days, and sometimes many hours a day. Retirement’s nice in that it gives me the freedom to do this. I paint mainly in oils now, though I have painted in acrylics. I attempt to capture the essence of these majestic wild creatures in my work and, hopefully, create awareness about their plight.

“I’ve also begun painting art in the Western genre. I love Western art and have collected it for years. I thought it was high time I tried my hand at producing some of my own.”

Briesacher’s work has appeared in exhibitions locally at Webster Groves’ Green Door Art Gallery and Des Peres’ (now decamped) American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, as well as in nonlocal venues like the Randy Higbee Gallery in Costa Mesa, California.

It also graces private collections throughout the United States and Canada, Briesacher notes, adding that she herself belongs to several artistic organizations – including, perhaps perforce, the nonprofit American Academy of Equine Art of Lexington, Kentucky.

Thirty Winters, as it happens, launched Briesacher’s equestrian conservation efforts. “I’ve always loved horses,” she says. “I grew up on the back of a horse. But there’s something about the wild ones that’s just so thrilling, so compelling. Anyone who’s had the opportunity to see them in the wild can’t help but be touched.”

Briesacher credits the photography of Craig, Colorado’s aptly named Nadja Rider for inspiring Thirty Winters. That painting, she continues, portrays an iconic wild stallion named Picasso, of the Centennial State’s Sand Wash Basin.

“He’s believed to be 30 years old now, having lived his whole life wild in northwest Colorado,” Briesacher says. “This horse has my heart. There’s just so much wisdom in his eyes.

“I’m told that now, since he no longer has a band of his own, he spends some time with other bachelor stallions, but often he can be seen just gazing over the basin. I believe he’s reflecting on all he’s seen and done in his long life.”

The artist adds that Thirty Winters appeared in online showcases of both the American Academy of Equine Art and Houston’s National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society.

Briesacher makes one final comment on the feral horses whose “beauty, heart and resilience” so captivate her: “Since I painted Thirty Winters in April 2018, I’ve been able to donate nearly $10,000 for their support and protection.

“Painting the wild ones has really been life-changing for me. It’s opened up a new world. It makes me incredibly happy to be able to give back in this way.” 

To learn more about our featured artist, visit lindabriesacher.com.

St. Louis-area artists who wish to be considered for future installments of this monthly department of Ladue News should email inquiries to bhollerbach@laduenews.com with “Art and Soul” in the subject line.

Bryan A. Hollerbach serves as LN's copy editor and one of its staff writers. He loves to read, write, impersonate an amateur artist and research all things bibulous.