Art, Whisky & Cake Contest


A few weeks ago we announced the Art, Whisky & Cake Contest. It was your chance to nominate an up-and-coming artist as Alberta Whisky Cake\’s newest Unbridled Spirit selection. It\’s been fun working with the Whisky Baker, Kamla McGonigal, and her company\’s mission of promoting the western culture, especially in light of the recent flooding devastation in Alberta. The theme fits beautifully with the \”unfolding the real West\” mission statement of Western Horse Review, and besides, who could resist partnering with such an enthusiastic entrepreneur as Kam.

Check back here for the original post, but the gist of the contest is that each Alberta Whisky Cake comes with an exclusive AWC Unbridled Spirits certificate, which can be presented directly to a select list of AWC artists to receive $35 off of your purchase price, on an individual piece of art valued at $100 or more. Viewers were charged with nominating their favorite artists to be the next Unbridled Spirit. These artists are folks who are involved heavily in the arts, and have not yet become renowned or rewarded for their exceptional dedication to their creative work.

Kam was charged with choosing three finalists, and via this post and Facebook, you get to determine one final Unbridled Spirit winner.


When she wasn\’t testing out new recipes in her kitchen, Kam poured over all the nominations and began to make her choices. I could tell she was having a difficult time; given all the amazing talent that had been dished up, choosing three finalists was going to be difficult.

Sometime during the process she wondered in an e-mail to me. . . \” if I should just go with using ALL of these (love them all!)\”

No, Kam, you have to choose three. Those are the rules.

So, she did. She picked three artists, and I\’m going to show you a piece of each of their work here. In the comment section, go ahead and vote on your favorite. The bonus: all original nominations notes and all votes will go into a hat and we\’ll draw a winner for an Alberta Whisky Cake.

I suppose I can\’t really vote, but if I could, I would be all over this for that reason alone.

Meet the finalists:


Karen Coe is a Lethbridge, Alberta artist who recently received the distinction of having two of her pieces juried into the prestigious Calgary Stampede Art Auction.


Julia Palmer is a photographer and rancher who lives in southern Alberta. Her subject matter is primarily cattle, cowboys and the changing seasons.


Heather Gessell is a fine artist from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with a focus on pets, horses and vintage cars.

There you have it, three talented western artists. Vote for your favorite in the comment section below and be entered to win an Alberta Whisky Cake!


221 thoughts on “Art, Whisky & Cake Contest”

  1. Jeanette Hall

    I love the intensity the painter gives in the 8 seconds painting. The colours are simply gorgeous.

  2. My vote is for Karen Coe and her amazing piece “Take your eight and shove it”. I could swear that the bull is about to come right out of the page. Amazing portrayal of an incredible animal and sport.

  3. Phyllis Buckman

    What a hard, hard choice to make! All excellent works of art. That said, however, “Take Your Eight and Shove It” by Karen Coe presents such an unique view of a rodeo bull executed with such skill, that I simply must cast my vote for that one. Let me say, though, that I looked long and hard at all of them before making my choice. Good job, artists!

  4. …loved all the entries…such talent… but I feel a connection with the work of Heather my vote is for Heather and her Between Classes!

  5. While all three entries are beautifully stunning and I would love to own a piece by any of the three artists, I vote for Karen Coe’s entry “Take Your Eight and Shove It”. The uniqueness, colour and the intensity of this piece makes it stand out.

  6. Lori Stuber

    All three are magnificent but my vote goes to Heather Gessell. I have seen many of her works of art and they are all brilliant!!

  7. My vote is for Karen Coe and her amazing piece “Take your eight and shove it”. The intensity of this painting is fantastic!

  8. Love Love the horse head by Heather Gessell-she nailed it! They are all fab but if I were to purchase 1 only it would be Heathers

  9. Barb MacPhee

    My vote is for Heather Gessell. I visited her booth at the Prairieland Expo, and she is amazing.

  10. Wow hard choices! I’ll have to go with the real feeling I got from Heather Gessell’s “Between Classes”. I can almost feel the boredom I think that horse is feeling…resigned to another rider kicking and yanking…

  11. Yvonne Mangan

    I vote for Karen Coe’s ” Take your eight and shove it”, the intensity of the work is fantastic.

  12. Deb Mallett

    Heather Gessell is an amazing artist! I was fortunate enough to receive one of her originals a couple years back. So my vote with with Heather Gessell!

  13. Claire Meaker

    I vote for Karen Coe. Her details on this painting of the bull are amazing. Good Luck.

  14. Karen Coe, Take your eight and shove it! Amazing! you can almost feel the bulls intensity and power!!

  15. Audrey Nault

    Karen Coe’s “Take your eight and shove it”…. Love all three works, but this one gets my vote.

  16. Shannon Blais

    Heather Gessel gets my vote…her art is so realistic, I feel like I’m right there with the animal <3

  17. Sue Hebenton

    My vote is for Julia Palmer – outstanding photographer who captures her subject with a fabulous eye!


  18. Judith Nelson

    Julia Palmer is a wonderfully talented photographer, and her subject matter reflects the passion for the life she leads on her family’s ranch in southern Alberta. She gets my vote!

  19. Judith Nelson

    Julia Palmer’s inspired photography reflects the passion of her life on her family’s Alberta ranch, she gets my vote!

  20. Julia Palmer- she really catches the special, spectacular and many times unnoticed moments in the fast passed cattle work environment!

  21. Robert Knapp

    I vote Julia Palmer. As a one-time cowboy from southern Colorado, I appreciate the vividness, accuracy, and artistry of her work.

  22. Julia Palmer – her photos have such an excellent sense of place, and really evoke the beauty of rural life.

  23. Amelia Langston

    I vote for Julia Palmer. I love the dynamic quality of her photo, and the nature of the light. I want to visit Alberta!

  24. Wesley G Marlowe

    I vote for heather Gessell. It is a Very Lovely picture and would be proud if this Young Lady was to win .

  25. I sense the moment with Coe’s piece. Remaining alert, the bull has a settled stare amidst the cloud of dust he just created.

  26. While all three are great my vote goes to Take your 8 for both composition and contrast of text/detail. Never thought I’d want a bull on my wall but that one would look just fine.

  27. Judith D> Johnson

    it is hard all three are very good. But the beautiful horse gets my vote
    “Heather Gessell has my vote.

  28. Alisa Leson

    Beautiful picture Heather Gessell! You have my vote for “Between Classes” – good luck!

  29. I am voting for Julia Palmer. Her photograph of the cowboy roping captures the unique bond between horse and rider. This is the spirit of the West. Bravo Julia!!

  30. Jean Vollmering

    I would like to vote for Heather Gessell. Best I have seen in a long time. from: Jean Vollmering

  31. Nancy Dickerson

    I love Karen Coe’s work. Each picture has “attitude” to the max! Thank you for featuring her work.

  32. Between Classes has my vote! That fuzzy muzzle, I would be tempted to touch the painting to see if it is as soft as I imagine it is! All three are interesting in their own way but I could stare at this one for hours.

  33. Tammy Botsford

    Karen Coe – the depth and lighting in this piece of art is amazing. Great title too 😉

  34. I vote for Karen Coe. I love that painting it is simply gorgeous. The horse is also beautiful but I have to vote honestly for the bull.

  35. Darlene Tingtved

    I love the Heather Gessel – Between Classes, reminds me of my mare who is now 20 yrs old and used to look like that between classes and then be ready to give it her all when required.

  36. Linda Desjardins

    Oh my I love them all! I think I will pick Karen Coe. The photo is beautiful but should almost be a second category for them.

  37. Karen Coe; without a doubt! The lighting is amazing and you can just feel the strength and power of this beautiful animal.

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