You’ve seen them all over town. Learn more about how artist Katy Jones is taking plain concrete and making colorful home décor and celebrating Lexington’s equestrian culture.
Brightly painted cavaliers at Jeff Ruby’s, Keeneland, or at the iconic 21 Club in New York City have been welcoming guests for years, but have you ever seen one in a store? Probably not. Cavalier statues are available as raw concrete statues, but it takes an artist like Katy Jones to turn them into gorgeous equestrian decor.
Jones grew up in western Kentucky and began riding horses at five years old. She moved to Lexington to attend the University of Kentucky, and has spent the last decade collecting historic racing memorabilia. She always wanted a cavalier for her home, but didn’t know where to find one.
She started painting statues in September of last year. Jones says, “When I saw a local business selling the raw concrete statues, I knew I had to get one to paint! I wanted to create the silks of Mike Manganello and Dust Commander, the 1970 Derby winner.” She shared the process on social media, and when she was finished, had several people interested in commissioning their own custom cavalier.
Pretty quickly, it became clear that her artisan statues were going to be in high demand. She came up with a name, refined her craft, and the rest is history.
Starting with a plain concrete statue, she takes great care to repair imperfections before she paints. Jones even adds custom-molded collars and boot pulls which set her cavaliers apart. She uses weather-resistant materials and protects the finished product with a waterproof UV coat. Since founding Riders Up Custom Cavaliers, she has stayed busy with custom orders.
For Jones, who lives with Multiple Sclerosis, moving the 200-pound jockeys is no small task. She insulated her garage to create a year-round workspace which has allowed her to scale up production. Jones doesn’t plan to grow too quickly though, because attention to detail is at the heart of her craft.
Jones says, “I believe that working with the jockeys has helped me immensely to keep active mentally and physically during the isolation of the pandemic. I am honored to be trusted in creating these forever pieces for families and businesses across the Bluegrass. I take pride in my attention to detail as I work to honor the tradition of horse racing and its importance across Kentucky.”