Experience the Most Beautiful Art Tour Along the Cowboy Trail
There is a reason why so many artists chose to live along the Rockies where the plains marry the mountains. They feel the wonderful energy of the land and the influence it has on their creative impulses. Henry David Thoreau, 19th century American poet, philosopher and naturalist, once said “it is the marriage of the soul with Nature that makes the intellect fruitful, and gives birth to imagination.”
World-class artists Susan Kristoferson, Julia Reimer, Tyler Rock, Evonne Smulders and many others intrinsically understand this. These highly accomplished local artists have felt the magic of the area. Living in small towns where people and the land share deep connections enriches their art.
For these reasons, it is not surprising to see art studios and world-class art galleries dotting the countryside immediately south and west of Calgary. They make up a perfect day trip away from the big city. Add to your journey a visit to a quaint eatery or a picnic to one of the many parks and Voilà! You have yourself a perfect day, rain, shine or snow.
Firebrand Glass Studio
634 3rd St. S.W., Black Diamond
firebrandglass.ca • 403 933-2264
Glassblowing is a fascinating art form as are the artists who devote their talents to it. Blowing glass is highly technical. It requires in-depth knowledge of material, their behaviours under extreme heat and the capacity to make split second decisions. Julia Reimer and Tyler Rock crave the challenge and it shows. They are celebrated artists having won numerous awards and recognitions from many Canadian arts authorities and the Corning Museum of Glass. They are known for their exceedingly graceful and delicate works, many inspired by the crisp prairie light and windswept grasslands. Many pieces have found homes in private and corporate collections.
Julia and Tyler open their studio on a regular basis to those who want to witness the art of glassblowing. They also offer classes. Something I will definitely do in the coming year.
320-1st Avenue N.W., Black Diamond
evonnesmulders.com • 403-969-9594
Evonne Smulders is the salt of the earth. She embodies her philosophy of life, inviting you to slow down, be grateful and connect with nature, life and yourself. A potter for over 30 years, the clay has become an extension of who she is. Her pottery is wholesome, organic and vibrant. It is sure to find its purpose in your home.
On many occasions through the year, Evonne and husband Robert, open their studio to the public. You will not want to miss their warm welcome and discover Evonne’s work and how it can inspire you.
110 Centre Ave W, Black Diamond
bluerockgallery.ca • 403-933-5047
Art conveys feelings that words and thoughts cannot express. Karen Gimbel has long understood this. It fuels her passion to promote, collaborate and champion over 200 regional artists. “They are the voice, the eyes and the hands of the land”.
Bluerock Gallery is a destination in itself. Karen gathered a full range of high quality fine art and fine craft in all media, sizes and prices. If you visit the gallery you will fall in love with local artists for what they offer and the way they inspire you. Bluerock also offers unique events featuring local artists.
The Leighton Art Centre
282027 – 144 Street West, Foothills, AB
leightoncentre.org • 403-931-3633
In 1924, Alfred Crocker (A.C.) Leighton, a member of the Royal Society of British Artists discovered the foothills. He and his wife, local artist Barbara Mary Harvey were smitten, stayed, and founded the Alberta Society of Artists and the Banff School of Fine Arts. Their home overlooked a large expanse of undulating hills where sun and clouds dance. That former residence is now the Leighton Art Centre featuring a museum, educational centre, art gallery and shop. The Leighton Foundation promotes over 400 young, emerging and professional Alberta artists and offers programs initiating youth and adults to the arts. Situated between Calgary and Millarville, it is a perfect destination for the whole family, exploring the arts and enjoying a picnic on the front lawn.
Visits by appointment
kristoferson-studio.ca • 403-619-6875
Carefully following Susan Kristoferson’s instructions, I make my way up a narrow and windy road to her ridge top residence and studio, all the while scanning the sky’s “rays of glory” over the sensuous hills and mountain scape.
Susan is an exquisite artist exploring the fine art of intricate hand painted paste papers and hand dyed “itajime” papers; an ancient Japanese art form she mastered. Her impressive career includes teaching in several fine arts universities and schools throughout the US. She has exhibited extensively at national and international levels.
Susan will soon mentor students in her newly renovated studio offering workshops and art lessons. Her papers are used in bookbinding, note card making and even interior design. However, it is her intricate collage paper “paintings” of landscapes and abstract images and her small papers objects that are a must see.
By Renée Delorme