VANTAGE, Wash. — To find the most-seen piece of public art in Washington, cross the Columbia River on I-90 at Vantage, and look to the right as you're heading east. You'll see 15 horses stampede across a ridgeline.
And the artist who created this sculpture wants to finish his work.
This is the Wild Horses Monument. David Govedare, the Chewelah artist who created it in 1989 for Washington's centennial - calls it Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies.
Govedare's plan was for the horses to be pouring out of a basket. The basket is life, the horses' free will. All of it a gift from the Grandfather Spirit.
"It's the Creation Basket,” Govedare explained, holding up a small-scale model of the missing piece. “The scale is one inch equals a foot. So this will be, in full size, it'll be 36 feet in diameter, 24,000 pounds. Cor-Ten steel.”
The massive basket will have salmon, eagles, deer and people, all created by different First Nations artists.
Today David is at his sculpture to kick off Fund the Basket, a fundraiser designed to help this artist complete his vision. Friends on horseback arrive to show their support and the tame horses mingling with the wild ones make a whole new work of art.
"For me, it's all about life, and being free, and having the spirit to roam, and do what you want to do and be happy doing it,” said Chris Jonason, from atop her horse.
The steel horses are also a monument to the wild horses that once roamed this area. It is perfect art -- in a perfect spot.
But this artist sees the potential for more in this desert spot with sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge: “The scale of this site and the magic of wild horses being here, and this basket being against this kind of backdrop, it's absolutely perfect,” said Govedare.
"It needs to happen. Especially in his lifetime, and I want to see it done in mine,” said David’s son, Forest.
The artist who gave Washington this iconic roadside attraction has a bigger story to tell -- about how we are all in this big basket together.
"Getting it finished in this lifetime is this magic quotient to me. I like that thought of completion,” said Govedare.
Learn more about David Govedare and Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies or Contribute to Fund the Basket.
Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies is the 2018 winner for Best Roadside Attraction in the 2018 Best Northwest Escapes contest sponsored by Washington's Playground.
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