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:

Take Your Eight and Shove It by Karen Coe.

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.

Ranch Branding by Julia Palmer.

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

Between Classes by Heather Gessell.

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!


  1. Michelle Walerius says

    I vote for Heather Gessell – beautiful artwork! They are all great

  2. My vote is for Karen Coe. Really admire the detail of her work!

  3. Taya Richardson says

    Heather Gessell. Beautiful

  4. Sue Hebenton says

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


  5. Jenn Jacura says

    I’m definitely partial to the Karen Coe artwork

  6. Mercedes Bátiz-Benét says

    My vote is for Julia Palmer. Her work is breathtaking.

  7. Joan Chapman says

    Julia Palmer gets my vote — an amazing young artist.

  8. George Chapman says

    Julia Palmer

  9. Ashley Williams says

    I vote Julia Palmer! such a great eye for capturing typical everyday ranch life~

  10. Judith Nelson says

    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!

  11. My vote goes to Heather Gessell – Between Classes… Beautiful work

  12. Judith Nelson says

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

  13. Definately “Take Your Eight and Shove It”

  14. Laura Good says

    Karen Coe

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

  16. Ron Nelson says

    Julia Palmer does wonders with a lens

  17. Robert Knapp says

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

  18. Cordelia Wylde-LaRue says

    Julia Palmer’s work is amazing!

  19. My vote is for Julia Palmer as I think it is a great environmental portrait of the west.

  20. Marianne Abraham says

    Jules Palmer for me please!

  21. Ken Meaker says

    I vote for Karen Coe. Best of luck!

  22. All in for Heather Gessell, a up and coming star! Wonderful!!!!!

  23. Ross Longridge says

    Julia Palmer, catches the essence of the ranch life.

  24. Melissa Conklin says

    Julia Palmer!

  25. Alana Hein says

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

  26. Kelly Young says

    I vote for Julia Palmer!

  27. Amelia Langston says

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

  28. Claren Copp says

    Julia Palmer, of course!

  29. Karen Coe. That was tough!

  30. Karen Coe

  31. Heather Gessell. Between Classes.

  32. Travis Dyck says

    Heather Gessell

  33. Georgina Albert says

    Definitely Karen Coe is my vote.

  34. Brenda McFadyen-Landry says

    I vote for Karen Coe; amazing.

  35. Karen Coe is my favorite,

  36. Lori Stuber says

    All three works of art are exquisite but Heather Gessell’s gets my vote every time!!

  37. Wesley G Marlowe says

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

  38. Heather Gessell!

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

  40. Joan McDougall says

    I vote for Heather Gessel, Love it!

  41. Jackie Hunt says

    Between classes by Heather Gessell!

  42. Heather Gessell awesome!

  43. Heather Gessell, love it the most, all of them are so talented.

  44. Karen Coe has my vote. But I would hang all of these in my place!

  45. 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.

  46. Grant McMurray says

    All good but I think Heather Gessell’s “Between Classes” is the best!

  47. I vote for Heather Gessell

  48. Love Julia Palmer’s photo. It brings to life the day the photo was taken.

  49. Heather Gessell

  50. Lee Schreiner says

    Heather Gessell did a fabulous job! I’ve voted for her!