The Willcox will host an opening reception for an exhibit of fine sporting art by famed Cross Gate Gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.Cross Gate owners Greg Ladd, son Field Ladd and daughter Catherine Ladd Kenneally will be on hand with exceptional equestrian sporting art paintings and sculpture. The exhibit will close March 28.Cross Gate Gallery in Lexington, Ky., is one of the premier sporting art galleries in the world.Greg Ladd praised both The Willcox and the City of Aiken as excellent hosts for such an important exhibit."The Willcox reflects 'quality' and Southern hospitality," he said. "It has a great restaurant and is a wonderful meeting place, which is exactly the setting with which we love to be associated."And we love Aiken," he continued. "We exhibit all over the country, including Saratoga Springs, Wellington and Delmar, and The Willcox is maybe the most comfortable and welcoming location we've visited. We have exhibited in Aiken five or six times over the past 30 years, and we are very pleased to be back. We have many good clients who have migrated to Aiken and we are sure we have a few things to interest our old friends."Aiken is fast becoming the 'equestrian center' of the country in the springtime. Many different equestrian disciplines are attracting people from all over the country," Ladd addedAlready on display in the lobby of The Willcox is a Cross Gate offering by Vaughn Flannery (1898-1955) that represents the 1948 Aiken Trials.It comes with provenance from Kraushaar Galleries in New York City and celebrates horses owned in Aiken by the Vanderbilt and Whitney families, as well as longtime Greentree Stables trainer John Gaver.The exhibit will feature the works of contemporaries Larry Wheeler, Sandy Oppegard and Andre Pater, as well as 19th/20th-century J.F. Herring, Alfred Munnings and Isadore Bonheur.A reception for Wheeler will be held at The Willcox on Feb. 7, for Oppegard on March 1 and for Pater on March 15.The gallery will change the inventory of the exhibit three or four times during the show, "just to keep it interesting," said Ladd.Since 1974, Ladd has searched for and cultivated quality artists whom he believes should apply their skills to creating sporting art. The exhibition will include paintings depicting foxhunting, flat racing, steeplechase, polo and driving, etc., by the top contemporary artists working today, as well as 19th- and 20th-century 'sporting' paintings and sculptures."We show quality artwork by the top British and American 'sporting' artists," Ladd said. "We have a new work by Andre Pater, perhaps the top contemporary sporting artist working today. We have a piece or two by South Carolina artist Ray Ellis and some really unusual pieces by important 19th- and 20th-century artists, including Vaughan Flannery."The public is invited to attend all of the receptions and admire the paintings for their 10-week stay at The Willcox.For more information on Cross Gate Gallery, visit http://crossgategallery.com.