To be both successful and famous in one’s own time is an achievement few artists ever experience.
But what escaped the likes of van Gogh has been achieved by a scrappy ex-racehorse with bad knees.
Metro Meteor, an ex-racehorse Thoroughbred first featured in Off Track Thoroughbreds.com last December, is almost famous, not for amassing close to $300,000 in earnings on the track, but for the post-modern abstracts he paints on a canvas set up in his stall.
Taught to paint by his owner Ron Krajewski, a professional artist himself who concentrates on pet portraiture, Metro started making the bright, acrylic-based artwork about a year ago.
It was more of a lark than anything when Krajewski first stuck a paintbrush in Metro’s mouth to see if he could hold onto it, and actually make deliberate strokes with it on canvas.
Well, he could; and he did.
And last week, Metro’s story hit the big time.
The painting horse and his owner were featured on the Today Show in a segment that focused not only on the novelty of a painting horse, but on the larger issue of unwanted horses in America.
“The Today Show took the Metro story to a whole, new level,” Krajewski says. “Jill Rappaport, in her story, described him as the spokeshorse for racehorse adoption. And she made it clear that every horse needs another career, because horses live a long time after their done racing.”
Since Krajewski and his wife Wendy adopted Metro in 2009 from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption, they dreamed he would spend his days in the pursuit of low-key trail rides.
When, after a few years, a bone-growth deformity in his knees was detected, they realized that Metro would need more veterinarian care, costing more money than they first thought. That’s when Krajewski and Metro rose to the occasion—with a paintbrush!
Metro has earned approximately $20,000 in the sale of his paintings, and although half of it has been donated to New Vocations to help other horses, the balance has paid for innovative treatments that could prolong his own life.
“His paintings have enabled us to seek more expensive treatments, and a round of X- Rays last week shows some big promise,” he says, noting that his veterinarian Dr. Kim Brokaw is very excited with the results.
And the Krajewski family couldn’t be more tickled by Metro and his newfound glory, which he handles with the attitude often credited to racehorses who’ve “been there, done that.” Said differently, even when a cameraman, a soundman, a reporter, and 10 others hung around the indoor arena to watch and film Metro at work, he kept his cool.
“We painted in the indoor arena for the Today Show so they could move around him with the camera and get different angles. Normally Metro paints in his stall,” he says. “Metro is not tied up and can walk away at any time. But, we got in front of the canvas, and except for briefly stepping back to sniff the sound guy, he got right to work, and started painting.”
Metro paints tirelessly. Generally, Krajewski calls it quits on a session long before Metro, who could “stand there all day painting.”
But, at this point, given the excitement and interest in his work, even the swift-running Metro can’t keep pace.
His paintings are in such demand that the prices for a 20 by 20 inch acrylic has doubled to about $1,000, and the Gallery 30, which sells his work has stopped hanging pieces because they’re sold before the first nail hole is hammered into the gallery wall.
With a one-year waiting list for the 20 by 20s, Krajewski admits to being a bit overwhelmed by it all.
“It’s unreal. He was on the Today Show Tuesday and the front page of Yahoo News Wednesday, and today an article came out in Canada’s biggest newspaper,” he says, adding that sponsorship and merchandise offers have started to roll in, and Metro now has his own intellectual property attorney.
“My life has gotten hectic,” he adds, “but Metro’s has pretty much stayed the same. He works four or five hours a week and eats the rest of the time. And I work a 10-hour day as his secretary.”
Off Track Thoroughbreds.com applauds the great new artist on the scene! To see more about Metro, please check out his website Painted By Metro.