MECHANICAL PONIES HAVE largely disappeared from supermarkets, but one Depoe Bay couple is reviving dozens of the ponies for a good cause. The ponies are being refurbished to raise money for the Wade J. Woodmark Foundation (WJWF) to provide relief, support, and healing to families who have lost a child to illness, accident, or crime. John and Talley Woodmark started the foundation after they lost their 20-year-old son in a tragic accident.
“The WJWF sponsors families’ expenses related to their their flagship project, Wade’s House— A Healing Place of Hope, where families come to spend time away from the stressors of everyday life in order to begin the journey toward healing following their loss,” says artist liaison Jaci McKim.
To support the Wade House, and other programs, including literacy support, student scholarships, and artist residencies, WJWF is sponsoring Pony Up! Quarter Horse Project. Pony Up! is a fundraiser in which 30 mechanical ride ponies have been shipped across the world to be restored and re-imagined by 30 renowned artists, representing every conceivable art medium.
But why mechanical ponies? John Woodmark managed the mechanical ponies as a business decades ago. Fast-forward
25-plus years and the ponies sat unused in a storage unit. Talley, who owns Depoe Bay’s Silver Heron Gallery, saw another life for the ponies, one that once again could bring joy to the lives of others.
One of the ponies, named “Tina,” is currently stabled in the lobby of Umpqua Bank in Newport. It is decorated with more than a thousand hand-painted tiles by MJ Stauner. “Zenobia,” created by Jan Huling, is a masterpiece with over 10,000 hand-applied beads. “Prima,” whose colorful tulle tutu costume was created by Jennifer Carroll, Betti Jo Diem, and Colleen Coffman, was photographed with dancers from the Kansas City Ballet. Other ponies may be viewed in Depoe Bay at the Silver Heron Gallery and Blue Heron Gallery and in Astoria at the Bridgewater Bistro.
Once the ponies have been refurbished, they will be auctioned or sold, with proceeds benefiting the operation of Wade’s House and its programs. Photographs of the completed ponies will also be featured in a limited-edition coffee table book. For more information or to contribute, go to the Pony Up! Quarter Horse Project Facebook page or webpage.
This news release appeared in the Happenings section of the Summer 2021 issue of Oregon Coast magazine.