By Ryan Gueningsman
The word means different things to different people.
Some people think of pickup trucks. Some think of the 1985 movie by that name. Some associate it with a local country music band, and yet others may think of it as a destination.
For John Tackaberry of Star West in Delano, it means beauty, peace, and happiness. That is why he chose the name “Silverado” for the large horse recently placed at his business on Highway 12.
“Is it not synonymous with heaven?” Tackaberry said. “The name is a western name, and to me, it denotes a western place that can be anything you want it to be. I think Silverado is that any place of great beauty, and a state of complete happiness.”
Tackaberry has been a Chevrolet dealer for 28 years, yet he did not name his horse after the pickup truck that has the same name.
Instead, Tackaberry has taken his piece of art one step further and placed it in his lot in memory of a close friend who recently passed away from cancer, and also to raise awareness for the Minnesota Horse Council, which assists with the rescue, shelter, and care of horses.
John T. McQuay was considered by Tackaberry as a brother, friend, and now, the “rider in the sky.”
McQuay and his wife, Dorothy, owned and operated Tumbleweed Boots & Western Wear in Ham Lake, and from 1983 to 1999, the large horse, known at the time as “Andy,” stood in front of their store.
“John (McQuay) was diagnosed with colon cancer,” Tackaberry said of his friend. “At the same time, a developer decided to buy the store.”
The store was sold to the property developer, and everything was removed by McQuay and his family from the property including the large horse.
Tackaberry said McQuay had a passion for horses, having been involved in many capacities, including past president and captain, of the Zuhrah Shrine Horse Patrol.
“He was a good guy, and very active in the horse community,” Tackaberry said.
John McQuay died in February 2008, and Tackaberry took part in McQuay’s funeral procession with a horse and empty saddle.
“Dorothy decided to sell a bunch of things,” Tackaberry recalled. He couldn’t make it to the sale himself, but that’s when he asked Dorothy about the horse. She saved it for him, and the rest is history.
The horse was brought back to Star West in Delano, where Tackaberry’s collision center staff began to re-sculpture it and prepare it to be painted. Enter into the picture another old friend of Tackaberry’s Dr. James Turner of Mound who set to the task of creating the work of art.
Turner, who has been an anesthesiologist at Ridgeview Care Center for the past 25 years by day, is also a watercolor artist in his spare time.
“John and I are old friends,” Turner said, noting his wife had gotten to know John through his involvement with the Hennepin County Mounted Patrol. Tackaberry knew Turner was a watercolor artist, and called on his friend to create a vision of the horse as being not just a painted horse, but to go beyond that.
Tuner said he and Tackaberry went through a long process of developing sketches, and eventually chose the theme that adorns the horse.
“I like the idea of Star West and stars being a part of it,” Turner said. Once a design was in place, Turner faced his next challenge making it weather-resistant and able to withstand winds and weather elements being so high in the air.
Tackaberry wanted to have it last without fading. With his experience in automobiles, he felt the best way to do it was to paint it like an automobile and clearcoat it so it has fade resistantance and longevity.
“That was difficult,” Turner admitted. “There are very few paints that’ll hold up to clearcoating.”
Yet another challenge with the auto paint was that it is typically meant to be spray painted, not brushed.
“It’s like a glue. It dries fairly quickly,” Turner explained, adding that the paint also had to be temperature-controlled, which wasn’t an issue because Turner has a heated barn that he used for the painting process. He began painting the horse in pieces, doing the background first, and then progressing with each additional layer. Each layer came a bit easier to Turner, as he had a better grasp of how much paint to mix and about how long it would take him.
“It was real interesting from an art standpoint,” Tuner said. “I had about a month to five weeks in it from beginning to end, from the design to painting.”
At a Star West Thanksgiving party Nov. 15, Turner had the chance to meet Dorothy McQuay, and learned the history of the horse that he had spent the last month painting.
“My husband, John, and I purchased the rearing horse from Calamity Jeans Western Shop in, I believe, 1983, when they wanted to sell it,” Dorothy McQuay recalled. The owner of Calamity Jeans was a man named Andy, so therefore, Andy became the horse’s name as well, and Andy found a new home in Ham Lake.
“At that time, the horse was a sorrel brown solid color, and since we were placing it in front of our Western Wear Shop, Tumbleweed Boots & Western Wear, we wanted him to be noticed by people driving by, so we had it painted brown and white,” McQuay said.
After it was painted and in front of Tumbleweed Boots & Western Wear, passers-by weren’t the only ones to notice the horse and western shop.
“Several of the neighborhood schools in our area had a challenge to see who could spray paint Andy around the time of their homecoming events, so his private parts were painted blue, red, green and black for the school colors,” McQuay recalled. “John would be out there every year cleaning him up. Several of the kids who did this were actually customers of the store, and they later told us what they had done. Teenage kids can do some things which are harmful, and this could have been one of those things, but John would laugh and go out with his cleaner and take care of the problem.
“He said if that was the worst thing they ever did, he was glad it was on Andy, and the kids could have some fun without the drinking and drugs being part of their plan.”
Andy stood in front of the Tumbleweed Western Wear building from 1983 until 1999, when the McQuays closed their store. Andy then went into storage in the garage at their home, laying on a 1958 Impala until John passed away in February 2008.
“Now, he is gorgeous and stands proud being dedicated to my husband, John T. McQuay, and also representing donations to the Minnesota Horse Council to help horses in need in the state of Minnesota,” Dorothy said. And that is something Tackaberry is proud to do. Anyone who sees the horse and is interested, may make a tax-deductible donation to the horse council by placing it in a depository on Tackaberry’s showroom floor.
“You have to care for animals,” Tackaberry said, adding that several hundred dollars have already been raised and given to the horse council. “I made it a mission to do all of this. You can have all the ideas in the world, but unless someone pushes it, nothing gets done.”
Those who know Tackaberry know he is that driving force behind many things.
“That’s classic John,” Turner said. “John is continually and enthusiastically involved in the community. He’s always thinking of things to do. Getting involved and giving back to the community that’s John.”
When Turner saw the horse 23 feet off the ground at Star West, he said it actually appeared a little smaller than he thought, but said it was a good feeling.
“It does my heart good every time I go by it,” Turner said. “It’s something I’ll remember forever.
For more information on the Minnesota Horse Council, visit www.horses-mn.org.