I met up with Monique Rae on a drizzly Sunday morning, in nearby San Juan Capistrano. She was scrambling to put up a tarp over her latest artistic endeavor–a life-sized mustang sculpture, replete with hummingbirds, butterflies, and native plants.
The overall design suggest Monique’s personal interests, as well as the environment in which she paints. When completed, the sculpture will also bear some resemblance to her mustang, Hawk.
As we talked, Monique flitted from one penciled sketch to another, dabbing yellow paint on the horse’s tail and splashes of color along its flank.
Her face was radiant, no doubt a reflection of the happiness that comes of expressing one’s self through art.
The sky darkened. Fat raindrops slanted through the trees and spattered wet polka-dots onto the empty adirondack chair. But the wild mustang was safely corralled, as were we, inside her impromptu art studio.
Monique was a whir of motion for the entire length of our visit. When she wasn’t painting, she was feeding the hummingbird rescues she’d nestled into a cozy carrier on the front seat of her car. An acknowledged hummingbird rehabilitation expert, she provides nourishment for her babies with syringes that mimic a mama hummingbird’s slender beak.
Monique, I learned, is one of 10 artists currently lending their time and talents to Wild Horses SJC, which honors San Juan Capistrano’s storied past as a rural equestrian community, while also raising funds for Return to Freedom, a wild mustang sanctuary in Santa Barbara County. Her contribution to San Juan Capistrano’s mustang collection will be featured at the Eco Garden Expo on Los Rios Street, from April 23-24.
The wild mustang is an American icon, symbolizing freedom and untamed beauty. In broadcasting its plight, we help preserve its habitat and thereby increase its chances for survival. With that in mind, Wild Horses SJC plans to display its equine “herd” around town before auctioning them off. Concurrent with those efforts, project leaders hope to wrangle support for a nation-wide awareness campaign, aptly named Horse of a Different Color.™
Everyday people, doing extraordinary things…this is how change eventually comes.