Artisans of the West – Richard Brooks

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue 

Richard Brooks

 
Cayley, Alberta
Silversmith & Bit Maker
 

Richard Brooks has dedicated a good part of his life to learning the art of silversmithing. Only in the last seven years has he had the luxury of being able to carry out his passion full-time.

A set of authentic Richard Brooks spurs is a lifetime gift.

“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do! My grandfather (Roy Brooks) was a silversmith and bit and spur maker from Cochrane. I used to sit and watch him in his shop when I was kid.”

Sterling men’s band. 14kt white gold ladies ring set. With .72ct diamond.

Those early childhood memories spawned a love for creating good quality, highly functional and innately beautiful products that can be marketed to collectors and working cowboys alike.

“One of my challenges is keeping the artistic side in balance with the functional side of my stuff. No matter how fancy they are, the have to work properly as well.”

Inspired by the old California-style bits, spurs and silverwork, every piece that comes out of Brooks’ shop is nothing short of stunning.

Inspired by the old California-style bits, spurs and silverwork, every piece that comes out of Brooks’ shop is nothing short of stunning. Custom orders for silver and rings are about two or three weeks delivery, whereas bits and spurs stand at about two months wait time. Everything is thought out and executed with precision in a Richard Brooks piece. The rein chains with his bridle bits are original and hand crafted, the saddle silver that he creates adds exponentially to the value of the saddle it is mounted on, his spurs are balanced and solid.

See more of Richard Brooks work online at his Facebook page, R Brooks Bits & Silver.

~ Dainya Sapergia

Young Guns – Jennifer Rak

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I’ll reveal one every week or so!

Passionate about promoting the western lifestyle, Jenifer has been dedicated to pulling her own weight to be involved in the industry.

Jennifer Rak

(Nominated for Ambassadors)
Age: 19
Fairview, Alberta

“By the force of arms, live unconquered.” It’s Jenifer Rak’s favorite quote and one she adores so much, she has it tattooed on her ribcage. 

“Take life and live it – don’t let anything hold you back,” she says. “That’s my motto.”

To say Rak is ambitious is an understatement. Last year for instance, the Fairview, AB, girl co-hosted RD-TV’s new show “Rodeo Radio.” She sanctioned, planned, fundraised and put on a college rodeo in her hometown; she founded a memorial scholarship in honor of her grandfather Oscar Rak; and she attended Olds College to gain a diploma in business, majoring in marketing and sales. She will graduate from there this spring and has since been accepted into the Bachelor of Science program in Ag-Business at Olds for the upcoming fall 2013/14 term.

In previous years, Rak has also been heavily involved with rodeo royalty. In 2011 she was crowned as he Rodeo Queen of Jasper. She has had a lot to do with 4H involvement and she has been part of many Shared Lent projects, lending her efforts to build a water well in Africa.

In her spare time, Rak is an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR Paramedic), and enjoys participating in community functions and event planning.

“But right now, school is a priority,” she states. 

Rak is an avid barrel racer and admits to being fond of all things rodeo. In 2011, she and her mother traveled south to the National High School Rodeo Finals to contend in light rifle shooting.

“My mom isn’t a hunter or a shooter but she came with me to be my partner. And she ended up carrying us,” she laughs. “I taught my mom how to shoot but when it came to competition time, I dropped the ball. However, my mom pulled us through and we ended up fourth!”

“I grew up on a farm. I guess I see things differently than many people.”

Maintaining and promoting the western lifestyle is a topic of conversation that is very dear to Rak’s heart. When asked where she gets her zeal and drive from, she is quick to answer:

“I grew up on a farm. I guess I see things differently than many people. The way I was raised involved chores and spankings on occasion. I was required to pay for my own rodeo entries and that meant if I didn’t feed the cows or exercise my own horses – I wasn’t going. From that I realized that if you don’t put the effort in, you’re not going to win.”

~ interview by Jennifer Webster

Artisans of the West – Scott Hardy

Scott Hardy, of Longview, Alberta is one of Canada’s most renowned silversmiths and founding member of the Traditional Cowboys Arts Association.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue 

Hardy’s designs push the limits of his craft, but he stays true to the tradition of the art of silversmithing.

Some of the most fateful things happen in the most unlikely ways. For Traditional Cowboys Arts Association (TCAA) silversmith Scott Hardy, it all started with an advertisement in the paper.

“I had cowboyed in the mountains, shoed horses for years and welded, all trying to find a way to make a living so Leslie (Scott’s wife) and I could buy some land to raise cattle and horses. I came across an ad for a Continuing Education course at Mount Royal University in Calgary for beginning silversmithing. After completing the night course, I started creating pieces for family and friends in my basement and in 1981, I opened my silver shop.”

Now, over 30 years later, the rest is, indeed, history. Although he doesn’t travel to trade shows to exhibit and sell his work, he does attend the Traditional Cowboys Arts Association Exhibition and Sale held at the National Cowboy & Western Museum in Oklahoma City every October. Hardy’s work is displayed in a handful of galleries, and as with all artists that grow with the times, he gets a fair amount of traffic through his website.

Hardy’s pieces are all works of art, with a lead time of 2-3 months for each order.

“I am a founding member of the TCAA. Their mission statement is simple – the TCAA is dedicated to preserving and promoting the skills of saddle making, bit and spur making, silversmithing and rawhide braiding and the role of these traditional crafts in representing the cowboy culture of the North American West. Over the years, we have taught over 300 craftspeople in workshops, personally mentored over 235 craftspeople, have given out over $70,000 in scholarships and now host an Emerging Artist Competition and a fellowship. But the most important learning tool we have is our annual Exhibition and Sale at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum every October. For this event, our members are required to bring their best works, creating pieces that push their artistic and technical abilities further than ever before.

This is important for many reasons; it inspires artists and craftspeople to move ahead with their own work and show the public buyers and collectors what can be achieved. It also makes the TCAA members strive each year to expand their abilities, which flows through to their everyday work. For me personally it has opened a world of knowledge. Western silversmithing is my passion, pleasure and profession.”

A founding member of the TCAA, Hardy’s work goes above and beyond what would be expected of a bit and spur maker.

After such a lengthy career in the industry, Hardy’s biggest challenge now is time. Although he is happy with his work, he humbly adds that he still feels he has a lot to learn and accomplish. Regardless, he feels a passion for what he does.

“Silver work always fascinated me. Growing up, there were always a lot of buckles and horse gear around, but what really amazed me was a silver tea service set my great Grandma had brought from England. It was hard to believe a person had created those pieces. It is important to carry on this art because it is the culture of the West; the equipment we use, the way we embellish them, the buckles we wear were all created in the North American West. They came from cultures all over the world, brought here and morphed into what worked best for us. The North American West, the way we work stock, the areas we cover in that work is truly unique in the world. We should be proud of that!”

See more of Scott Hardy’s work at www.scotthardy.com.

~ story by Dainya Sapergia

Young Guns – Gillian Shields

In the May/June issue of Western Horse Review, we searched out some of the most accomplished and influential youth in the western horse industry and compiled our first-ever Young Guns – Top 25 Youth Under 25. We came up with six categories: Ambassadors, Artisans, Entertainers, Competitive, Entrepreneurs and Science. From self-discipline to unwavering focus, we were reminded that the dreams often fostered in young minds and hearts can translate to adulthood, and that good old fashioned determination can still achieve what many think is impossible. We loved the true western code of ethic each of our top 25 exude.

It evolved into such an inspiring piece we decided to recreate it online, with the fuller interviews and stories of each of our deserving Top 25. Look for them here at Screen Doors & Saddles over the next six months, as I’ll reveal one every week or so! 

Miss Rodeo Canada 2013

The reigning Miss Rodeo Canada is about more than rodeo; she is a musician and an aspiring leader for her rural community. Photo by Ian Neill Photography.

Gillian Shields

(nominated in the Ambassador category)

Age: 22
Location: Didsbury, Alberta

Miss Rodeo Canada has over 450 appearances booked north of the 49th parallel this year. Like most rodeo royalty, the reigning 2013 Miss Rodeo Canada, Gillian Shields, is constantly on the move; waving to the crowds, making speeches and signing autographs. Behind the glitz of her current position, Shields has challenged herself to make a positive and lasting impression during her banner year.

“This position has given me the opportunity to impact other’s lives and teach the importance of maintaining our western lifestyle,” said Shields. “I really want to embrace and inform people of how amazing this industry and lifestyle is, especially because it gives nothing but opportunity and positive impact for our youth.”

Shields has not been immune to life’s adversities and is an inspiring person to get to know.

“One of the biggest challenges I have come across in life is losing my mother at the age of 14, after her battle with cancer. It was extremely hard at that age to watch my mother go through cancer. Learning to be able to cope with lack of maternal support was a big challenge. It was actually my mother who got me interested in the rodeo queen world. I am very thankful she sent me in the right direction. I learned independence, determination, and I have learned to appreciate the support from my friends and family who helped me along this journey. I would not be where I am today without each and every one of them.”

Growing up in rural Alberta, Sheilds participated in 4-H, and competed as a barrel racer in numerous associations; including the Foothills Cowboy Association and the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. She was crowned the Carstairs Rodeo Queen 2006, Miss Rodeo Sundre 2007 and Miss Rodeo Airdrie 2011.

Gillian Shields (right) and Grande Prairie’s Erin Head, who just was named Miss Teepee Creek Stampede 2013.

Besides being an active dignitary, she also enjoys playing the violin and has played in the Calgary Orchestra and at numerous fundraising events. She is also halfway through her Bachelor of Education and with her current position as Miss Rodeo Canada, she has the platform to captivate us all.

“I now have the opportunity to contribute to keeping the spirit alive in a lifestyle that deserves to be more embraced. After all, there is a little cowboy spirit in all of us.”

~ Deanna Buschert

Young Guns – Jesse Dupont

Rodeo Poster Unveiled

If you're Ponoka-bound for the 77th edition of the Ponoka Stampede next week, you might want to take a bit of collectible memorabilia home with you.

Kicking off a series of original paintings depicting a significant person or event in Ponoka's rich rodeo history, the 77th year poster features World Class Saddle Bronc Rider Rod Hay. Among too many accolades to mention, (he captured the Ponoka Stampede Saddle Bronc Riding Championship title three times) his natural riding ability and classy style is considered to be a defining career achievement by rodeo cowboys and fans alike. Rod Hay's effortless-looking style is skillfully portrayed in watercolor by artist and rodeo entertainer Ash Cooper.

These two cowboys have shared the rodeo arena spotlight for many years and Ash Coopers' first hand knowledge culminated into a true to life painting of the famous rodeo athlete. Saddle bronc riding is often described as a true art form and through his paint brush Ash Cooper has captured the action. This year there are 77 limited edition high-quality artist prints available for purchase, each individually signed by Ash Cooper and Rod Hay. These highly collectable poster sized prints give rodeo fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to seize a single moment where rodeo, art and history intertwine. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these prints are donated to the Tom Butterfield Creating Cowboys Scholarship Fund.

The original painting will be made available for viewing during Stampede week at the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Ponoka Stampede Western Art and Gift Show and will be sold with the artist present at the 3rd Annual Ponoka Stampede Live Art Auction set for June 30th at 4 pm in the Stagecoach Saloon.


Artisans of the West – Shawna Whiteside

Shawna Whiteside, silversmith and owner of the Sweet Iron Silver Co.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we’ll profile some of the talented artisans we met, and whose work we fell in love with. To see the full feature, order the back issue 

Whiteside’s Bronc Pendent, represents the symbolism of the West.

For silversmith Shawna Whiteside, working from her studio near Didsbury, Alberta, creating the feel of the West involves color, creativity and her passion for life. In her work, she combines intricate designs and a splash of color to create a unique western flavor. Whiteside feels she has a passion to create innovative and expressive jewelry, which offers whimsical detail with a modern twist. Her work specializes in the bright cut style western engraving and she also is fond of making custom work, incorporating logos, brands or initials.

“I have a passion for anything that will make a piece a one-of-a-kind or an heirloom. I love adding color, which is why I’m always putting pendants on colorful turquoise, amethyst, or other stones. I also try to mix copper, gold, silver and other metals together to make things pop.”

Whiteside relates she has always had a passion for jewelry, but it wasn’t until she turned 30 that she decided to pursue her passion.

A beautifully crafted silver ring, inspired by western design.

“My mother started doing bronzes around that time. She is an amazing artist and she has always taught me to follow my dreams.”

Inspiration for her jewelry comes from different ideas that might have not been done in the western style. Whiteside says she keeps a notebook in her purse and does quick sketches whenever a new idea comes to life. “I’m always looking in magazines and trying to figure out new ways to wear and engrave, keeping the traditional methods, but putting a colorful or modern twist on them.”

Recently she has gone to Washington to meet and train with Mark Drain, founder of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. “He is a hero of mine and a brilliant silversmith. He continues to inspire me to try different things and make every piece the best one I can possibly make it.”

For seven years, Whiteside has been juried into the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. “I was one of the first artisans they let into the Western Showcase.”

She said the opportunity to show at the Stampede is like winning an Academy Award. “I try every year to incorporate something new or different in my work. It really makes me try to evolve and improve.”

Custom brand bracelet with 10 karat gold scroll.

Visit the Sweet Iron Silver Co. to see more of Shawna’s work.

~ story by Deanna Buschert

Artisans of the West – Shelagh Blatz

Shelagh Blatz, silversmith and owner of Designs By Shelagh.

Our March 2013 issue featured the Ultimate Artisans of the West. Over the next few months, we'll profile some of the talented artisans we met and whose work we fell in love. To see the full feature, order the back issue

Stamped Sterling Silver surrounds this 1930's Buffalo nickel, the iconic symbol of the West, surrounded by turquoise stones. Complimented by matching beads.

Shelagh Blatz “fell” into silversmithing. After convincing some friends to take an Introduction to Silversmithing class with her in Okotoks, Alberta, Blatz fell in love with the craft. She continued to take classes from her mentor, Shirley Paradis, and also at the Alberta College of Art & Design.

In 2002, Blatz started making pieces that she couldn’t find anywhere in Canada and began taking orders from people who were interested in her unique pieces. Working out of her home studio on her family’s ranch southwest of Calgary, Blatz draws motivation for her jewelry from her western lifestyle – she strives to create unique pieces that reflect her life.

A beautiful grouping in striking Spiny Oyster, a shell that has been used for adornment since ancient times and worn by Aztecs, Anasazi, Mogolion and Hohokam.

“I draw a lot of inspiration directly from the stone; the color and shape usually indicate where I start with the design,” says Blatz. “I start with a sketch book and a shape and fit a stone into the design or sometimes I begin with a stone and draw the design around it.”

Blatz finishes all of her designs off with her trademark Buffalo nickel clasp. “It’s great to be able to pick out one of my creations from afar.”

A striking turquoise stone surrounded by small beads of silver and on a silver beaded chain.

Suspended on a silver chain, and adorned with a light turquoise stone, this feather is light and easy to wear.

Silver feathers adorned with precious stone, and complimentary earrings.

Visit Designs By Shelagh to see more of Blatz's work.

~ by Deanna Beckley

 

Farewell To A Canadiana Music Legend