10/02/2006 11:00PM

Exhibiting art for charity's sake


I am in Kentucky this week, standing up to my hocks in bluegrass and equine art.

The grass is indigenous; the art is imported, from all corners of North America and Europe.

I have gathered it for a charity auction, as I have annually for the last 30 years, to fund a college scholarship program that helps send seven worthy and needy young scholars to college each fall.

But there is a difference this year.

Believing, as I have all my racing life, that the beauty of the horse transcends any single breed, I have reached out this year and broadened the scope of the show and auction, so that the oils and watercolors and bronzes and woodcarvings depict Thoroughbreds, trotters and pacers, polo ponies, hunters, and Western horses.

Happily, a former cavalry officer from Poland, a painter of horses without peer in my opinion, has helped out by lending his unmatched talents once again. His name is Zenon Aniszewski, and for a decade now his works have dominated this Lexington auction, the only American outlet for his work. To provide horse lovers with a chance to own one of his paintings - he works both in oil and watercolor - and to test the laws of supply and demand, I have accepted 28 of his paintings, large, dazzling in color, and breathtaking in the motion and action he captures so realistically.

His skills are God-given, but his understanding of how a horse in motion moves and looks came from a lifetime of admiring and working with them. He walked as far as 10 miles as a boy to watch horses at a cavalry base, and when old enough he joined that cavalry to ride the magnificent animals that captivated him.

Later, he began painting them, and the scope and sweep of his work is superb.

He is joined once again this year in the Kentucky charity auction by another talent with dual skills. The Russian artist Svetlana Gadjieva was trained as an architect and loved horses. She combined the two in her soaring watercolors that depict the church spires and towers of the cities of Europe, from London to Stockholm to Rome to St. Petersburg to Moscow to Gdansk. Eighteen of her paintings, all including horses, are in the show and auction.

George Ford Morris, the towering star of equine art in America from 1900 to 1960, is represented by three works, two from early in his career - 1902 and 1904 - and another, a large polo oil, painted as a commissioned work in 1929.

Pal Fried, the Hungarian-born artist best known for his oil paintings of beautiful women from around the world, lived and worked in New York, and apparently was impressed with the beauty and grace of racehorses as well as with women. Sometime in the 1950's or 1960's, he visited Roosevelt or Yonkers raceway and painted a large oil of trotters, a work unknown to most in the sport until it surfaced earlier this year. It is being sold in the upcoming sale.

Also being offered are the incredibly detailed large woodcarvings of John Kittelson, the cowboy carver of Cody, Wyo. Kittelson is retired and no longer able to carve, and the 11 mind-boggling works being offered are the last of his equine spectaculars. One of them, a nine-foot long amazing carving of the eight-horse Budweiser hitch, belongs in the Anheuser Busch headquarters in St. Louis, but none of the Buschs realize that so far. It took Kittelson three years to carve, and there will be none other like it, ever.

Those are the stars, but there also are more than 30 Currier & Ives original lithographs, including the hard-to-find comics, and a mystery piece that is the most intriguing work of art in the sale. In 1857, an artist named G. H. Durrie painted a work called Home to Thanksgiving. Currier & Ives produced a print of it, which today sells for $27,500 on the New York market. Around 1900, an unknown artist painted an exact duplicate of Durrie's work, but did not sign it. I found the amazing duplicate large oil on canvas - 20 x 29 - earlier this year, and it is included in the auction.

So that's what I'll be doing this week. The work is being displayed in the upper grandstand of the Red Mile clubhouse in Lexington all week and will be sold Friday and Saturday mornings, starting at 8:30 each day. If you're anywhere else in the world, you can see the entire collection at . Phone bids are accepted, and you can reach me, standing in the Bluegrass, at 520-241-7145.