By Eileen Persike, Editor
Matthew Jacobson is an artist who has found a way to incorporate his love of horses and farming into his work. It could also be said that he is a farmer whose surroundings inspire his beautiful paintings. Either way, farming, art and horses have played a big part in Jacobson’s life.
Take for example, his latest creation. A huge wooden horse, maybe eight feet tall.
“I started just screwing wood together and carving it away,” Jacobson said. “It’s a lot of culled lumber; if all I needed were short pieces, I could usually get something out of a bad piece of wood.”
His first attempt, made from pink Styrofoam insulation, didn’t turn out very well; the barn cats may have had something to do with that, though. This one, affectionately called ‘the Boy,’ turned out very nicely. Oh, he says it could be a little wider, but it’s sturdy. This was Jacobson’s winter project; started two days before Christmas and finished two days after Easter. The Boy is constructed with Douglas fir, pine and oak wood, and finished with a boiled linseed oil so he has a nice rich honey color and is somewhat waterproof. A shredded tarp lends movement to the beast; his mane and tail blown by the breeze.
This may be his first project of this type, and on this scale, but Jacobson is known throughout the Midwest for his signature painting style, described as smooth brush strokes on large canvas and tightly-cropped subjects which include horses and Amish farmers.
Horses and art; art and horses.
Jacobson put himself through college shoeing horses, and owned and operated his own art supply and framing shop on Brown Street in downtown Rhinelander for a number of years.
“I painted for quite a few years painting hockey and sports,” Jacobson explains. “I like the bright colors and the action, but somewhere along the way it became needlessly difficult to get anything out anywhere; you had to have express written permission from the team. There are a lot less lawyers with work horses.”
He befriended some Amish farmers because he said he everyone needs help along the way sometimes, especially important because he may very well be the only one in Oneida County who works the land the old fashioned way. Jacobson farms with his three Belgians, Hannah, Jake and Lilyette.
“They’re doing what I’m doing, farming with their horses,” Jacobson said matter-of-factly. “It’s not the fastest way to farm, but it’s just so interesting. It’s quiet; we just do our work and I like that part of it.”
Together they disc the fields, plant the corn and cultivate the crops. The three gentle, yet strong, and beautiful animals are often depicted in his art, on canvas. They are also not quite sure what to make of the regal steed standing very still and very strong at the barn’s entrance.
“They are a little afraid of the Boy,” he said. “They avoid walking near him and making eye contact.”
The Boy, however, may not be part of the Jacobson farm family for long. Matthew hopes to sell his one-of-a-kind creation, and make enough money to fund the next project. There’s a good chance it will include his Belgians and the farm.