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Canaryville Artist Tapped to Contribute to 'Horses of Honor' Project

By Casey Cora | August 10, 2014 9:09am | Updated on August 11, 2014 8:37am
 Artist Erika Vazzana has been asked to participate in the "Horses of Honor" art fundraiser.
Artist Erika Vazzana has been asked to participate in the "Horses of Honor" art fundraiser.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

BRIDGEPORT — For Erika Vazzana, the call to participate in the city's newest public art project didn't come straight from the horse's mouth.

Instead, it came from a representative of the marketing agency facilitating the project, which asks local artists to paint 50 fiberglass replicas of the police department's mounted horses that'll be placed along the Magnificent Mile and auctioned off to raise money for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

The statues will be on display through the end of November as part of the "Horses of Honor" initiative benefiting the memorial foundation, which gives money to the families of fallen officers, supplies college funds for their children, and helps pay for rehabilitation and other necessary care for officers who survive injuries in the line of duty.

Vazzana is a painter who's made a career out of making murals and taking commission jobs. She's also led art-making sessions for kids birthday parties and taught after-school art clubs at Bridgeport's St. Jerome Catholic School and Mark Sheridan Math & Science Academy.

"Art is just part of my spirit, who I am," she said.

Some of her work can be seen at commercial enterprises, like a surgery room at Anne and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, where she painted an ocean scene so "the last thing [a child] sees before surgery is a dolphin smiling back at them."

She's also painted murals inside of kids nurseries throughout the the city and suburbs and earned accolades for the White Sox mural in her home, which drew raves from the neighborhood and attention from local TV news crews during the team's World Series run in 2005.

That the city gave her the nod to participate in the horse project is probably the result of lots of hustle and word of mouth, she said. Her business cards are placed all over Bridgeport.

Vazzana has already contributed to a previous public art project, The Great Chicago Fire Hydrants, but she said she's humbled to have been chosen for another.

For the new project, she's been asked to paint two horses for the corporate clients that each donated money to the police foundation.

But first, the horses need to be delivered to her Canaryville home.

Only one of the life-size statues, roughly 6 feet tall and 6 feet long, has arrived in her family's garage, already packed with everything from kids sports gear to her husband Mark's tools for his homebuilding business.

"The garage is now a stable," she said.

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