By Elaine Anne Watt

When Carola Taddeo walked into the room in early December of 2017 to share some of her portfolio of equestrian art, her eyes searched eagerly to take in every detail of her surroundings.  This was her first time coming to Middleburg and the first long trip she has taken with her husband, Fernando Landro, an International Master Rider, in their seven years together.  First they had to organize their lives.

A La Vaquera. Typical Spanish Horse Riding Style.- I loved how the effort and strain of the horse fused itself with the darkness of the background

A La Vaquera. Typical Spanish Horse Riding Style.- I loved how the effort and strain of the horse fused itself with the darkness of the background

But, the story goes further back.  Fernando was an exchange student in 1986 attending American University when he selected an ROTC officer, who happened to be George Johnson, to talk to about what it was like studying and serving simultaneously in the United States, which was not then nor is now part of the tradition abroad or in his native Argentina.  They soon became fast friends, sharing an interest in international affairs, the global community and cultural exchange.  In fact, they became like brothers. So close, that Fernando said George’s “father was as important in my life as my own father.  He taught me to be a gentleman and responsibility.”

George travelled to Argentina to spend time with Fernando.  The very first woman that George met upon his arrival, Lia, became his wife and they share a nurtured family and business in nearby Leesburg to this day.  Last year, Fernando sent his 16-year-old son to stay the winter with the Johnsons, so the ties run very deep.

Epoca Feliz. The Best Years of My Life.- This painting represents the best years of my life on the ranch where I grew up

Epoca Feliz. The Best Years of My Life.- This painting represents the best years of my life on the ranch where I grew up

As does their shared appreciation for Carola’s paintings and colored pencil drawings and their desire to help her work become better known in our community. Dainty and elegant in her native gaucho dress, with eager smiles but “not the best English,” both George and Fernando were eager to help her communicate her thoughts. They
needn’t have worried.

She spoke of her happiness in coming on the trip, of how beautiful the landscape is surrounding us, of how the warmth and hospitality of everyone she’s met made her feel. She described her visit to see Laura Sprieser Sporthorse for dressage as a “ballet in motion.”  And then, she shared her work.

Amazing. Captivating.  So real.

“Almost too real, some people say,” laughed Fernando. “They think it too perfect, like a photograph.”  Fortunately, that is not the response received about a year ago when Carola’s work was first seen at Salamander.  They loved it!

Holt. This well known Argentine thoroughbred stallion, with his perfect proportions, is a class in anatomy, which I absolutely enjoyed painting

Holt. This well known Argentine thoroughbred stallion, with his perfect proportions, is a class in anatomy, which I absolutely enjoyed painting

For the last year, some of her pieces have been on display at the Equestrian Center.  On this trip, bringing new works and coming in person so that all four friends could “reinaugurate the exhibition” together has been incredibly special. Salamander held an intimate reception to celebrate the moment.

Her penciled drawings truly are exceptional.  You can see the muscles and veins in the horses.  Her love of anatomy and her many years training with other great talents have developed a remarkable sensitivity to the physical structure of her subjects while her innate love of the animals she has known all her life creates the depth to her works that captures their energy, motion and intent.

“I want to capture that moment, that one instant that will dictate the final imagery,” says Carola. “Yes, that is what I am after.” ML

You can see Carola’s work on display at Salamander Resort & Spa’s Equestrian Center. Visit www.salamanderresort.com  for more information.