The Art of the Calgary Stampede

It was only earlier last week that I posted a note about a fabulous art exhibit at the Museum of Civilization, entitled The Horse.

Late last week I learned about another exhibit which is equally exciting and impressive. Western art lovers, history buffs and Calgary Stampede fans, you will love what I’m about to let you in on. Personally, I can’t wait to take it in.

The exhibition and display of artwork related to the West has been as much a part of the Calgary Stampede as bucking broncs and cowboy lore, dating back even to the first Stampede in 1912. Recently I became aware of an exciting new exhibition of artwork on display at the Nickle Arts Museum – a collaboration of the Calgary Stampede and the University of Calgary, where the Nickle Arts is located.

A press release I received from the Nickle Arts Museum elaborated on this history of the Calgary Stampede’s support of the visual arts:

“In the early days, artists such as Edward Borein and C.M. Russell presented works evocative of the West, works that were also used in the promotion and visual presentation of the Calgary Stampede itself. From the 1930s to the early 1960s, the growth in local arts institutions such as the Alberta Society of Artists and the Glenbow Museum was reflected in the works exhibited at the Calgary Stampede and around the city. By the 1970s, the Stampede’s own Western Art Show had become a sought-after venue for western artists and artisans to display their works.”

As you might imagine, the course of nearly 100 years has given the Calgary Stampede an impressive permanent collection of artwork. The Art of the Calgary Stampede draws on this collection, as well as works from the the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Collection of the Government of Alberta, Government House Foundation, Glenbow Musuem, the Galt Museum & Archives in Lethbridge, The Nickle Arts Museum, and private collections to bring together an incredible selection of artwork illustrating the history of the Stampede.

Such as, for instance, this vintage Edward Borein.

Edward Borein – I-SEE-U, c. 1919 lithograph, Collection of Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Canada.

Edward Borein came recommended to Guy Weadick by the great C.M. Russell for the design of advertising. He completed many pen and ink sketches for the Stampede which were used in newspaper ads and souvenir programs between 1912 and 1919.

Apparently the “I-See-U” title has been understood variously to refer to the title of the image, the name of the bronc, or a warning given by the rider to the horse. Weadick may have found the original sketch appealing because the “IC” brand on horses was common and meant an animal had been Inspected and Condemned . . .  which would make, I guess, perfect bronc material back in those days.

You may be familiar with Alberta sculptor Richard Roenisch’s bronze commemorating this image.

Gerald Tailfeathers – Opening the Gate, 1956 watercolour on paper, Collection of Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Canada.

Gerald Tailfeathers’ painting, “Opening the Gate” completed in 1956 is a recent acquisition by the Glenbow. Tailfeathers, from the Blood reserve in southern Alberta had his artistic abilities recognized as early as nine-years-old while attending St. Paul’s residential school.

Jody Skinner – Celebrating – A Load off the Shoulders, 2009 oil on linen, collection of the Artist

More contemporary pieces are featured as well, including this stunning oil painting by Jody Skinner, a regularly-featured artist of the Western Art Showcase. This artwork was chosen as the 2008 Calgary Stampede poster.

All these and another 100 or more spectacular pieces are now on display at this special collection until August 4 at the Nickle Arts Museum. What an incredible opportunity to view so many unique pieces of artwork related to the West. Hope to see you there!

Organized by The Nickle Arts Museum in collaboration with the Calgary Stampede and the University of Calgary Press, guest curated by Dr. Brian Rusted. Funded with assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Comments

  1. Gerry Briscoe says:

    I have what I believe to be a print of Edward Borein marked copyright by Guy Weadick. It is very old and
    came from my parents house. Can someone tell me if it is worth anything.

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