The Artist Ranch Project tours the Calgary Stampede OH Ranch
Five contemporary artists gathered at the historic OH Ranch as part of the Stampede’s Artist Ranch Project, a program where artists examine traditional western heritage and values through contemporary art. The jury-selected artists will create works based on their experiences and display them at next year’s Western Showcase at the Western Oasis in BMO Centre.
“This project immerses contemporary artists in the western way of life. Artists are encouraged to articulate their interpretation of western values in art forms that are meaningful and an authentic expression of the artist,” explains Todd Noble, chairman of the Artist Ranch Project. “The result is always an exciting fusion of western values and contemporary art that bring to life western values in a way that challenges the traditional concepts of western art.”
The OH Ranch is a 130-year-old ranch and part of a fabled ranching history in Alberta. In 2012, rancher and businessman Bill Siebens donated this 8,000 acre cattle ranch to the Calgary Stampede Foundation. Over the past year, the Stampede has re-established the OH Ranch as a working cow ranch. Going forward, the OH continues to be guided by three principles: to preserve the western authenticity of the working OH Ranch; to preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment; and to engage urban and rural audiences in new and meaningful ways.
The five artists arrived at the OH Ranch on Friday afternoon for a tour to learn about its operation, history and 200-head herd. On Saturday, the artists were allowed free time to wander the ranch to collect impressions, capture images or sketches and other sources of inspiration. The artists will spend the following months creating artwork inspired by their experience, which will be displayed at the Western Oasis in the BMO Centre during the 2014 Calgary Stampede.
The five artists selected to participate in this year’s Artist Ranch Project are David Zimmerman of Bragg Creek, Danielle Bartlette of Calgary, Sheila Kernan of Calgary, K. Neil Swanson of Calgary and Wanda Ellerbeck of Canmore.
“It was an interesting and engaging experience to learn about the history and the changing landscape,” said Ellerbeck. “And an opportunity to be with people who are very invested in what they do—not just the artists, but the people who live and work on the ranch. Everything they do depends on nature which is so different than most people today.”