Equines reimagined in horseshoes, patriotic flags made out of wood, a local artist embarks on a new path…James Ricketson is an artist. From wood-sculpted Mahi Mahi fish and patriotic flags to metal sculpting with horseshoes, his barn is an artist’s workshop dream.
What do a medieval painting, gothic architecture, and a song from the Neil Young “Crazy Horse” album have in common? Perhaps very little visually, but they do have one thing in common: each began as an idea in the artist’s psyche, a vision that came to fruition. What started as a single thought became something tangible.
Art comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors and is subjective. Yet each creation has its own story and begins with the artist telling the tale.
And so it is with the art of James Ricketson.
I met a Ricketson creation while driving through a rural area, consisting mostly of farms outlined with four board fencing and horses and cattle peacefully grazing within their confines.
Lo and behold, on the roadside sat a visible and monumental piece of artwork, carefully positioned in the middle of a flatbed trailer. A metal sculpture was reaching for the sky, a rearing horse created from horseshoes. With it was a piece of cardboard bearing the words “For Sale” and a telephone number scribbled with black magic marker; intrigued, I wrote down the number and drove away.
A phone call later revealed that James Ricketson was the imagination and creator behind this sculpture. He graciously invited me to his residence and barn where he creates custom “barn art” to talk more about his life and work.
James’s first career is with the Leesburg Fire Department in Leesburg, Florida, as the Battalion Chief. With the department for nearly two decades, his role as an artist began only a couple of years ago. But a visit to his barn and his Facebook page, Custom Creative Barn Art, suggests that he has embarked on another path – one that will carry on long after he has retired as a firefighter.
James related that the first piece created from horseshoes was shoulder mounts or horse heads. Something on the internet stirred his interest and became a conscious thought of I want to try that – and so he did. The horse heads were just the beginning of newfound love: the sculpting of metal.
The first full piece was a life-size horse, which now resides in his front yard. A succession of sculptures followed, including an eagle which found its “forever home” at First Academy in Leesburg.
Ricketson’s affection for animals is evident in his metal sculpting. According to James, his wife Lori is the reason for the 41 animals in residence…but you soon realize that both have genuine affection for all the creatures that call this place home.
Included in the menagerie is a Scottish Bull named Ollie, two donkeys, Luna and Shiloh, and Hagrid, a potbelly pig named after a Harry Potter character. A paint mare named Kayla grazes quietly amid her various pasture buddies.
These animals, along with a multitude of chickens and other creatures, all appear friendly – a sure sign they are well cared for and loved. They both influence and indicate a peaceful way of life…fertile ground for innate creativity and talent such as James’ to thrive.
To keep up with James Ricketson and his artwork, visit his Facebook page Custom Creative Barn Art.