Western Artist – Sheila Schaetzle

Story by Piper Whelan

Calgary artist Sheila Schaetzle will be featured at this year's Calgary Stampede Western Art Gallery.

Calgary artist Sheila Schaetzle will be featured at this year’s Calgary Stampede Western Art Gallery. Photo by Emily Exon Photography

Sheila Schaetzle is wild about nature. It’s evident in her art: in how she paints radiant autumn leaves in a distant valley, in the way she creates light on a snowy path. This Calgary-based artist uses her Maritime roots and Alberta home for artistic inspiration, both of which will be seen in the six paintings she’ll have on display at the 2015 Calgary Stampede’s Western Art Showcase.

Schaetzle grew up in the Restigouche region of New Brunswick, the subject of many of her paintings. “A lot of my work is inspired by the colours in the fall and just nature in general,” she says. “My dad was a hunter and a fisherman, so we were always outdoors, whether we were on the beaches or we were camping out somewhere. As far back as I can remember, I have really loved being out in nature, amongst the trees.”

"Early Snow" will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

“Early Snow” will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

Schaetzle admired many artists featured at the Western Showcase in the past, but never imagined that she would be among them today. “Going to the art show was always a big part of attending the Stampede,” she says. She’s exhibited in the Western Art Gallery for three years; prior to that she volunteered by giving demonstrations in the Artists’ Window booth. She is proud “to be part of that now and have my work on exhibition next to some of these great Calgary artists.”

Her love for art began at a young age, filling sketchbooks as a child and studying art throughout school. She decided to pursue art more seriously in 1998 with night classes, as well as learning from books and experimentation. Schaetzle works with oils, acrylics and mixed media, and loves exploring different techniques. Her goal is to create a “painterly” view, “something that’s not necessarily what you’re going to see in a photograph, but something that’s more original and on the creative side,” she explains.

"Rocky Mountain Sketch II" was exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

“Rocky Mountain Sketch II” was exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

“I’m thinking more in terms of big shapes and concepts that aren’t necessarily based on realism [when beginning a piece]. I’m not thinking about painting a tree, or painting a house; I’m more interested in creating content and creating a structure that is more about shape and value.”

She describes her process as “freeing,” and often works from sketches rather than photos. “Even in the sketching stage I’m working out a lot of what needs to happen, eventually, when I get the paint on the paint brush. So I journal about the thoughts and ideas that I have about what I want to achieve,” she explains. These are broad ideas on the feeling she wants to convey. “Often it’s based on something that I’ve seen or experienced, or a memory that I’m working from … I believe in painting what you know.” This way, each painting tells a story connected to the place or experience it depicts.

"It's a Beautiful Day" will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

“It’s a Beautiful Day” will be on display at the 2015 Western Art Gallery.

When creating artwork to submit to the Western Art Gallery, Schaetzle focuses on what will suit the venue, and also considers the Stampede’s international audience. “It’s an opportunity for artists to share all of the wonderful things that we have in the west — our mountains and our foothills. Our scenery is just full of beautiful landscapes, from our rolling hills to our green pastures, so there’s a ton of content that artists can use.”

"Million Dollar View," a new painting that is part of the Rocky Mountain Series exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

“Million Dollar View,” a new painting that is part of Schaetzle’s Rocky Mountain Series exhibited at the 2014 Western Art Gallery.

When she’s not at work in her studio, Schaetzle gives weekly art classes at the Calgary School of Art, and volunteers in her local arts community. Her work is on exhibit at Calgary’s Leighton Art Centre. Visit her website to check out more of her artwork and her blog on an artist’s life.

Alberta Whisky Cake

It’s becoming increasingly prevalent to consider source (local) and company (niche) in our world. In a sense, our western culture has perhaps always leaned more towards a high standard of craftsmanship, than an overload of cheap trappings. We cherish one well-made bit crafted from a local artisan, over 10 made overseas. A pair of chaps so beautifully constructed they must be passed on from mother to daughter. And so on.

I’ve as much as possible refined and practiced the same criteria in my kitchen and lifestyle. I’d rather have less, and enjoy quality than stack up on bulk buys of ridiculously processed foods.

awckamlaAll part of why I never grow tired of this friend, and her consistently positive mind and joy of life.

It took baker Kamla McGonigal of Calgary, Alberta, four years to perfect her recipe. Determination, baby, that’s what it took. The fourth generation Calgary native wanted to use whisky, locally distilled at Highwood Distiller’s, from grain at nearby farms as one of the main ingredients in her delectable cakes. Finally after countless hours over an oven, McGonigal developed one of the best tasting and most unique baked-goods available to those with discerning palates – the Alberta Whisky Cake.

awcwhiskeycakeboxUsing only the finest locally-sourced ingredients, Alberta Whisky Cakes offer a seductive flavor. You will be able to smell it’s sweet, distinct goodness before you will ever taste it, but as whisky advocates know – this is a desirable trait.

awcradioSo, as I’m working through my Christmas list of gift-giving and thank-you’s – both personal and corporate, Alberta Whisky Cakes in their delightful western-styled packaging are a top pick. The beautiful bundts are simple to order, and because of the dense, whisky intinction, keep well through shipping and into the Christmas season.

Find Alberta Whisky Cake on Facebook or, here.

Paige Callaway

In our March/2013 edition, we profiled 20 interesting artisans of the West, casting a sweet little spotlight on a few of the most ambitious silver, leather, jewellery and gear makers, fashionistas and even a cake baker. Since then we’ve stayed in touch with nearly all of them, and continue to feed our own inspirations with both their love of the West and independent spirits.

Which was why, when western fashion designer, Paige Callaway, sent an invitation to the launch of her new brand, Pursue Victory, I was intrigued enough to attend.

For one thing, when writer Deanna Beckley initially interviewed her for the feature, Callaway’s words oozed conviction and confidence.

“I feel like positive thinking and action is one of the most powerful things on earth, especially once we grasp the ability to harness it,” she said.  “I think most of my ideas come on road trips. Road trips, good music and hitting every flea market I can find between Calgary and Del Rio. It is endless where one can find inspiration – the trick is harnessing the vision and moving forward with it.”

And secondly, I really needed a new show shirt, and I already loved the look and intention behind the flagship piece of her brand, the Functional Power Collar professional shirt.

pursueartsWhat’s not to love about this logo? Rhetorical question. Particularly since it was created by a designer and photographer we’re blessed and fortunate enough to work with on a regular basis – Natalie Jackman.

pursuepaige&alexHeld at Hotel Arts in Calgary, it was a great evening of fashion and inspiration. I asked my daughter, Alex (on the right) to come with me, and meet Paige (on the left), and we both left feeling the conviction behind this cowgirl entrepreneur.

pursueshirtsAnd with a few purchases in hand.

pursuelabelAlex opted for a unisex tee, and I, the show shirt, which I’ve since worn equally in the show pen, and out on assignment. While it’s not inexpensively priced at $125, each shirt is designed and sewn right in Calgary, making them a 100% Canadian product. And, with the quality and workmanship in the garment, I consider it a lifetime addition to my closet, ultimately translating to a lighter footprint on the earth.

Callaway’s “workshop” is still her computer and a sketchbook, along with a duffle bag of clothes that follow her wherever her adventures and business may take her. “Being able to do business on the spot has proven successful for me. It is similar to the people in Central Park with trench coats and watches, but a lot classier,” she quipped.

Paige really has created a line of clothing that is positive and empowering. Find Pursue Victory on Facebook or visit their temporary website here.

Artisans of the West – Tom Balding

The demand increased from his customers for his items to be “dressed up” a little, so the silver began to appear.

Tom Balding

Sheridan, Wyoming
Bit and Spur Maker & Silversmith

 

With a passion for the western culture fed through the trainers, competitors and riders that use his product, Tom Balding is still forging ahead in the industry after nearly 30 years.

He explains that one of the biggest difficulties is “creating and maintaining original designs.

A self-taught artist, Balding began building bits and spurs in 1986. Soon, the demand increased from his customers for his items to be “dressed up” a little, so the silver began to appear. To this day, he still has the same inspirations and satisfaction in what he does. It is seeing the bits and spurs in use on the trainers and riders that are his customers and the design process that he employs through his customers and employees that he still enjoys to this day. He takes pride in having some of his employees with him for over 20 years.

But with all of the success that Balding has found in the market, it has its fair share of challenges for him. He explains that one of the biggest difficulties is “creating and maintaining original designs. Companies in China have been copying American made bit designs at a lower quality and cost. This has created an inequality in the market.”

After so many original designs created and hanging in the mouths of horses around the world, he still finds his inspiration simply through his everyday interactions.

After so many original designs created and hanging in the mouths of horses around the world, he still finds his inspiration simply through his everyday interactions.

After so many original designs created and hanging in the mouths of horses around the world, he still finds his inspiration simply through his everyday interactions. Sometimes he will free hand concept drawings that will later make its way into a formal prototype. The creative freedom that he enjoys has been hard earned, but Balding still stays at the helm of the production process that makes Balding Bits and Spurs one of the most prominent makers in the industry.

~ Dainya Sapergia

Tom Balding Bits & Spurs

www.tombalding.com

Artisans of the West – Paige Albrecht

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

“I want people of the western lifestyle to see themselves in my artwork,” says Albrecht.

Paige Albrecht

Linden, AB
Artist and Leatherwork

Roll young, stunning and talented all into one complete package and you get Paige Albrecht. Raised in the saddle just west of Trochu, Alberta, Albrecht has been a familiar face in the western horse world, not only in the competitive arena but also in the world of art.

Finding inspiration from the world in which she grew up in, from rodeos and horse shows, Albrecht’s subject matter is focused on the modern day cowboy – in the cutting, working cow horse or reining pen, cattle brandings and the rodeo arena. Accuracy and attention to detail are key to the young artist. “I want people of the western lifestyle to see themselves in my artwork,” says Albrecht.

Finding there was a shortage in unique, quality western belts, Albrecht decided make herself one – a sort of prototype.

In 2009, Albrecht added leatherwork to her repertoire. Finding there was a shortage in unique, quality western belts, Albrecht decided make herself one – a sort of prototype. “I was already at tradeshows with my art so I added the belts and they turned out to be a hit with Canadian cowgirls.” When Albrecht designs a belt she tries to envision the type of person wearing it and the style of clothing. Each belt is truly one-of-a-kind.

Albrecht’s subject matter is focused on the modern day cowboy – in the cutting, working cow horse or reining pen, cattle brandings and the rodeo arena.

Albrecht aspires to become a full-time artist and participate in fine art shows like the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase and have her belts on display at functions such as Cowboy Christmas in Las Vegas for the NFR and at the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo.

~Deanna Beckley

Artisans of the West – John Mincer

John Mincer prides himself on his craft. But beyond that lies a deep-rooted respect for that which is sourced, made and appreciated at home.

John Mincer

Mincer Silversmiths
Fallon, Nevada
Silversmith

John Mincer prides himself on his craft. But beyond that lies a deep-rooted respect for that which is sourced, made and appreciated at home.

John Mincer was born and raised in Nevada’s Great Basin and is a third generation rancher. From early in his childhood he was schooled in the traditional cowboy tools that he now designs and manufactures, and he had the opportunity to learn from some of the best. Mincer cut his teeth engraving silver at a cow camp on the Stillwater Range in Nevada. He credits Chet Smith for providing he foundation that sent him on the path to forging a career in silversmithing and engraving.

He credits Chet Smith for providing he foundation that sent him on the path to forging a career in silversmithing and engraving.

With a long list of mentors to credit, including Dan Price and Hugh Weaver, it wasn’t until he met master engraver Franz Markit that he finally fell into his own unique style, that of unmistakable distinct depth and shadowing. He learned that the craft that he had been raised with could be transformed into nothing short of an art and to add a well-defined polish to his own work.

He learned that the craft that he had been raised with could be transformed into nothing short of an art.

Today, Mincer Silversmiths is dedicated to providing unique, high quality, handmade products for collectors, working cowboys and leather crafters across the globe. They strive to design and manufacture items that fit the needs of every individual, first and foremost being usable for everyday working conditions while at the same time being of heirloom quality. Something that they pride themselves on, every piece is produced and hand finished on the Mincer ranch, in the heart of the U.S.A.

~ Dainya Sapergia

Mincer Silversmiths

www.mincersilversmiths.com

5 weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

One of the real gratifying perks of my job is the pleasure of meeting the western artists and artisans whose work I’ve admired from afar, as over the years, we’ve structured the content of the magazine to include more of a cultural bend and showcase the vibe of art and crafts in the western world. Consequently, the scope of my Christmas shopping list takes a considerable dabble into this, and we’re all the better for it, supporting our local economy, leaving a gentler footprint on the world, and often gifting pieces bound to become family treasures in the generations to come.

Here’s a few the interesting paths we’ve wandered down lately.

Though the Calgary floods temporarily closed The Van Ginkel Art Gallery – housed in one of the oldest buildings in historic Inglewood – the work of artist, Paul Van Ginkel can again be viewed in all of it’s breathtaking beauty, now that the gallery is open again.

See Paul’s Facebook page for a glimpse of what he’s been working on (horses!), and while you’re visiting be sure to purchase one of his calendars, illustrated with his work. Only $20 and 100% of the donations go to Calgary based charity HOPEthiopia (www.hopethiopia.com).

The Van Ginkel Art Gallery has limited hours, be sure to check before you go.

Nanton, Alberta, western artist, Shannon Lawlor has a great Christmas idea – custom hand painted brands. Here’s a collage of several brands shown here on different colours of hide. Hand painted on 4″ x 4″ squares, they make a unique gift idea for those with brands of their own.

Artist Gena LaCoste brings the Living West to life through her watercolors – horses, cowboys and cowgirls, flowers and heifers, and other gorgeously interpreted western expressions. For your little ones, she’s reprinted her books, “Horses” and “Living in the West” just in time for Christmas giving. They are full colour, about 40 pages, 8 x 10 inch soft-cover books, brimming from cover to cover with Gena’s beautiful paintings.

A perennial favourite in the Western Horse Review offices, western photographer Kim Taylor’s 2014 day planner is just as perfect as every year preceding it. I’ve a stack of these in my office, and often find myself flipping back to find a date or notation I need from a previous year.

Wanda Whaley’s beautiful slate paintings continue to awe me. She also paints on buffalo hide, birch bark and clay, working with organic hand-made paints. It’s about as close to 50,000 years ago as art can be. Check out her new work here. 

Finally, add a little western Christmas music to your day, with the Jeremy Neal Willis CD, Remembering Christmas, available at the Horse Barn in Kamloops, B.C., and Cowboys Choice in Vernon, B.C., or on cdbaby.

Postscript: Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s 6 Weeks to Christmas Contest. We have a winner: Missy Merrill-Davies, contact us at advertising@westernhorsereview.com by next Friday to retrieve your beautiful Paige Albrecht hand-crafted cowhide belt.

A Showcase of Western Culture

Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition Association

2013 Ranch Horse participants (from left): Tom Graham, Judge, Blake Smith, Junior Ranch Horse winner, and, Beau Smith, President of Ranch Horse.
Photo by Lenora Bells.

Welcome to Ranchman’s Ridin’ & Recitin’! This was Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition’s Cultural Days call to Kinetic Exhibition Park. Whether you were from the city or the country – here was an opportunity to witness and be a part of Swift Current’s agriculture and western heritage through ranching events, music, food, entertainment and good ol’ fashioned country fun.

The Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition Association invited everyone down to the barns at Kinetic Exhibition Park for a Western Cultural Day presentation of “Ranchman’s Ridin’ & Recitin’ on Saturday, September 28th, 2013. Ag & Ex Association Board Members organized entries from all across South-western Saskatchewan and Alberta, some from Manitoba. Guests of all ages were able to observe stock dog trials, a heavy horse pull, cow-pen show, ranch horse competition, ‘hooves & feathers’ show and sale, Young Ranchman’s All Breed Show and Little Ranchers Program. The Association’s expectations were exceeded as approximately six hundred and fifty visitors took in the activities – a very successful round-up!

Local exhibitors included very talented artists: a rope-maker and a saddle-maker. Doc’s Town was very popular as they set up near the barns at the Burnham Booth and supplied participants and visitors with pie and ice-cream throughout the day, and cowboy chilli at lunch. The cowboy roast beef supper was put on by the Swift Current Ag & Ex Livestock Committee and cowboy poets and musicians (a very important part of the western culture) finished off the Ranchman’s Ridin’ & Recitin’ Day. All who attended had an opportunity to witness ranching and farming community life as it was in the past and as it continues to be practiced today.

The Ag & Ex was very pleased to be part of the Cultural Day Celebrations, as The Ranchman’s Ridin’ & Recitin’, now in its ninth year at Swift Current Exhibition Kinetic Park, is a true celebration of our western culture.

We would like to extend our thanks to the regional and local advertising from the various media outlets for providing opportunities for interviews and getting the word out about our events – as well as our appreciation to those who organized the Cultural Days community happenings!

The Chute is always open at www.swiftcurrentex.com

2012 Ranch Horse Competitors (from left): Beau Smith, Blake Smith, Allan Bakkie, Jorstad, Rylee Miller, Pat Hanke.
Photo by Lenora Bells.

Make Mine Mohair

”Pop Wagner displaying his famous Pop Cinches. Photo by Carillon Rose Meadows

BY DORIS DALEY

“Make mine mohair.”

There’s no doubt in Pop Wagner’s mind that’s what horses everywhere would say if you asked them what kind of cinches they prefer.

Horseman, traditional master weaver, and renowned folk musician, Wagner offers a five-hour seminar in mohair cinch weaving from which participants go home with a new, 100 percent mohair cinch for their horse and the skills and knowledge to make more. Pop himself learned from renowned Arkansas cinch maker Darin Alexander and has been teaching others for several years on custom-designed looms. In October, when his life as a musician brings him on a rare performance tour to Alberta, he’ll be offering his seminar to 8-10 students in the Turner Valley area.

Why would anyone – pleasure rider to equine clinician – spend $150 to $500 on a mohair cinch when a $50 job from the local tack store keeps a saddle in place?  Two simple reasons according to Pop: function and artistry. “Mohair is one of the strongest natural fibers on earth,” he explains from his Minnesota home .  “Unlike cotton, it won’t stretch over time. Wool is not as strong, and synthetic fibers retain dirt and grit to the point where it’s like putting sand paper on a horse’s belly.  In contrast, with use, the back of a mohair cinch felts to a soft, smooth finish.  It wicks sweat and moisture away from the horse and needs very little cleaning.” In fact, when asked how he cleans and maintains his mohair cinches, one Wyoming cowboy answered, “I just ride through a river now and then.”

Whether you make your own cinch or not, beware of commercial varieties that are not always what the advertiser wants you to believe. Many “mohair” cinches are actually

a blend of mohair, cotton, wool and synthetic fibers. And don’t get Pop started on the “Contains 100% Mohair” labels. If the whole story were told, the label might say “contains  some 100% mohair. …Oh and by the way, also contains some 100% cotton, some 100% wool and a nice dose of  100% acrylic yarn.”

And then there’s the aesthetics. A cinch is barely seen when in use.  But it is an essential part of cowboy gear that can be enjoyed and appreciated for its beautiful design and construction as well as its function.  Pop teaches many designs including some born of the Navajo cinch making tradition.  Like bridles, halters, hatbands, lead ropes and saddles, the sky’s the limit when it comes to intricate designs for cinches. Pop himself incorporates his designs in other useful items: belts, guitar straps, hat bands, watch fobs and key chains. Participants in his five-hour seminar will complete a cinch in the traditional diamond-and-bar pattern.

“In the late 1800s,” says Pop, “a saddle from the Sears catalog sold for $40 and a mohair cinch for $4. A good saddle now costs $3,000 to $5,000 or even more. If inflation acts equally, then a $300 hand crafted mohair cinch in 2013 is right in line.”

Folk music fans, cowboy poetry fans and listeners to NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion will know Pop for his long, rich musical career that has taken him to 44 states and 11 countries. An art major in college, a horse owner and rider, and a gifted teacher of traditional cowboy arts, Pop’s cinch-making class is a rare opportunity to learn from a master. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get a chorus of “Good Bye Ol’ Paint” thrown in for free.

Pop Cinch, vaquero.
Photo by Pop Wagner.

Pop Wagner’s five-hour seminar on mohair cinch making takes place Oct. 29 at Turner Valley, Alberta. Participants may register directly on Pop’s website: www.popwagner.com or for more info call 612-817-5898 or email popwagner@mac.com

Pop Cinch, double-packer style.
Photo by Pop Wagner.

Mohair Cinches

by Pop Wagner

I tend to favor mohair

For saddle girths and cinches.

It’s strong, sheds dirt, wicks moisture,

It never chaffes or pinches.

Over time the back felts in

‘Til smooth as a baby’s bottom.

It’s luxury for horses,

Mules too, if you’ve got’em.

You can have your neoprene

And cotton, that’ll stretch of course.

Acrylics harbor dirt and grit

So I’ll put mohair on my horse.