Spirit Animals

Richard Allen horse

Photograph by Benjamin Williamson

Richard Allen’s wild horses could drag you away.

The driftwood horses along Route 1 in Rockport have become a curious landmark since showing up outside the Michael Good Gallery two years ago. Heads raised, legs bent, 18 hands high, they’re nothing like the gift-shop knickknacks that “driftwood art” calls to mind. “We know a thousand people who do found-object sculptures,” says Avi Good, who runs the gallery. But, she adds, these somehow stand out: “They simply have a character that’s unique to Richard.”

Where to Find
 Allen’s Menagerie

Two horses, a moose, and a pig at the Michael Good Gallery. 325 Commercial St., Rockport. 207-236-9623.

A larger-than-life lobster at Claws. 743 Main St., Rockland.

In summer, a variety on the lawn outside his studio. Intersection of Rte. 1 and Pleasant St., Rockland.

Richard Allen grew up in Farmington, where he’d often gather firewood and use his imagination to conjure knots and fragments into toys. The material has fascinated him ever since. Memories of worn-out draft horses at a lumber operation near his family’s farm stuck with him, and in his 40s, the one-time University of California sculpture professor started recreating their form.

Now in his 70s, he’s still at it, working from his studio in Rockland. He does non-equine sculptures too, but his steeds keep attracting admirers. “People say the horses look like they’re moving,” Allen notes, “even though they’re standing still.”

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Frances Killea

Frances Killea, a former editor at Ohio Magazine, lives in Appleton. When she's not at her writing desk, she works on a farm.