This series was initially inspired by childhood memories of riding a classic Charles Looff carousel in Elmira, New York, near where I grew up. I loved sitting on the brightly-colored horses, listening to the organ music and trying to grab the brass rings. But as I began doing these paintings, and looking into the history of carousels, I discovered a rich American art form that lasted from the late 1860s until the early 1930s.
Created by a handful of skilled craftsmen, mostly immigrants from Europe, these hand-carved wooden horses were first produced in Philadelphia and Coney Island, and eventually appeared in amusement parks around the country. The paintings are all based on specific horses in currently operating carousels. The location of each carousel, and the carver or company that produced it, is noted in the captions.