SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — For Janet Ferraro, riding a horse is like reliving the wonders of childhood.
"I love galloping with the wind blowing through my hair," she said. "It's thrilling to be on this powerful, fabulous animal and sailing down the beach."
When Ferraro decided to focus on her painting about 10 years ago, she knew she had to concentrate on what she loved. Horses were the obvious choice.
The Santa Cruz-based artist will show her work along with five other artists in the Santa Cruz County Bank's latest exhibit, "Unbridled."
The exhibit, across the bank's five branches, explore horses, both domesticated and wild, through various artistic mediums.
Curated by Mary Anne Carson, director of the Santa Cruz County Bank Arts Collaborative, "Unbridled" features more than 80 works of art by Ferraro, Karen Asherah, Susan Cartwright, Susan Hillyard, Tom Jacobs and Tobin Keller, which will be on display at the branches through June 17.
"I'm really happy to be a part of the show," Ferraro said. "It's exciting to be with such a talented group of artists."
Ferraro describes her relationship with horses
as a "spiritual connection, a heart connection." Being around horses is a calming experience, she said.
"It's awesome to have an animal that is so large, but so gentle," she said. "There are the gentlest, softest creatures."
With the support of her husband, Ferraro left her career in the clothing business to pursue her passion for art. Never a slow period, she said she is consistently working on commissions, with 90 percent of her work focused on horses.
Among other exhibits, Ferraro showed her work in the Equine Jubilee last year in Delaware, Ohio.
Jacobs, in his artist statement, said his work ranges from domestic horses in Santa Cruz County to wild mustangs in the Pryor Mountains of Montana.
"I seek to express their unbridled spirit, their stoic elegance, their gentle nature, or their remarkable beauty — or all of these qualities at once," he said.
"Unbridled" runs through June 17, and is shown across the bank's five branches: 595 Auto Center Drive, Watsonville; 7775 Soquel Drive, Aptos; 819 Bay Ave., Capitola; 720 Front St., Santa Cruz; 4604 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley.