As the birds chirp in the backyard of Janet Mamon’s Inverness home, a 7-foot by 9-foot fiberglass horse sits on her brick patio. With the sun beating down, Mamon paints with a purpose. Brush stroke by brush stroke, she gingerly applies paint to this unique canvas.
“For me, it’s a really cool medium for a message,” Mamon said. She is among eight artists who are painting 25 horses that will appear in Barrington streets and businesses throughout the summer.
The public display of art is called the Roundup II by its organizers, the Barrington Area United Way.
“This is really an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy a celebration of art,” said Leslie Luther-Jeschke, executive director of the Barrington Area United Way. The horses eventually will be auctioned off at a fundraiser on Oct. 13 at the barns of Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital. Proceeds will go toward the Barrington Area United Way.
For Mamon, being a part of this project seemed like a good fit.
“Horses are significant to me,” said Mamon. “They keep showing up in my life.”
Mamon’s 17-year-old daughter, Morgan, is an equestrian hunter jumper. Her husband is an equine therapist with Reins for Gains, and the family has owned a couple of horses.
Mamon’s love for art began when she was a child, growing up in the South Side of Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
“My dad would take us to the Art Institute on the free days,” recalled Mamon. “I’d be on my dad’s shoulders and he’d hold me up so I could look and see. I grew up looking at those Monets and the impressionists. I always wondered, how did they do that?”
Mamon says she always knew she had artistic abilities and loved art class but thought she did not fit the profile of an artist.
“I had this thought that being an artist was for someone who was important or special,” said Mamon. “I didn’t think it was meant for people like me. I kept having these thoughts about artists that weren’t really true.”
She later went to business school at Bradley University, where her interest in art was piqued again.
“Every day, I’d walk to my (business) classes through the art school,” she recalled. After graduating with a business degree from Bradley University, she landed a job selling medical supplies.
“So far from the art world,” joked Mamon, who said her business presentations frequently would have drawings on them. “Everything I did was creative … I tried to bring it out in everything I did.”
The mother of four kept finding herself immersed in art; from being a room mom at her children’s school to painting classes at the Glenview Park District. Mamon says the painting hobby in her home eventually turned into a bigger part of her life.
“It started to get bigger and bigger,” said Mormon. “I had a little corner in my house. That turned into a bigger corner and eventually it took over the whole dining room and the whole family room. There were never pots and pans in my sink; there were always paint brushes,” joked Mamon, who eventually opened a studio in Chicago near Hubbard and Damen.
A series of medical setbacks forced Mamon to close her space dubbed the Red Door Studio, which is symbolic of the negative beliefs she says were always present regarding her ability to be an artist. She recovered and was able to open her studio on a Barrington Hills estate, where she says deer frequently visit her through the window.
Mamon heard about the Barrington Area United Way’s Roundup II and submitted several concepts. Four were chosen and will be displayed in the public art display.
“I had no idea I’d be painting four horses this month,” joked Mamon, who is paid between $500 and $700 to paint the horses, depending on the size.
She’s painting Be Well right now, which will end up at Freedom will be displayed at the Illinois Pain Institute, 22285 Pepper Road, Suite 302, Lake Barrington. Sunrise/Sunset will be at the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce, and Camo, which is inspired by her son’s career path in the U.S. Army, will be on display at Sign-A-Rama. Mamon says all of the horses’ designs have a personal connection to her life.
This is the second year in a row that horses will be on display in Barrington, but the first year that small tabletop horses will appear inside various businesses in the village. Mamon plans to lease space in what formerly was The Bedding Experts, 116 S. Northwest Highway, for the entire month of June, where the public is invited to view her painting the horses.
“I know there’s enough creativity out there for all of us,” she said. “My calling is to invite them (the public) to recognize that in themselves; just like I did.”
The first horse is scheduled to make its debut May 26 at the Barrington Art Festival in Cook Street Plaza, with other horses being unveiled as they are completed by the artists. A map is still in the works, but eventually will be available on the Barrington Area United Way’s website.
Mamon is just thankful that she is able to help this cause.
“United Way, and the work they do … being able to help them … for me, is a gift,” she said. “It’s so gratifying.”
See more of Janet Mamon's work at www.janetmamon.com.