The Calgary Stampede Arts and Lifestyle Shows is a must-see event, and several Foothills artists have their efforts on display.
The Artists Studios are the main attraction of the Western Oasis, located in the BMO Centre, and visitors will have no trouble finding local artistry on display amongst the national and international contributions.
Some of the art on display is that of Okotoks-based painter Annette Resler, who has been part of the Western Oasis since 2012.
This year, her artwork is featured in both the Gallery and Mini-Masterpieces in the Western Oasis.
“It’s quite an honour, actually,” said Resler. “I feel like the thousands and thousands of people that come through there (during Stampede), a lot of them are just looking, but the Western Oasis is such a nice atmosphere. They’ve done such a wonderful job creating a gallery feeling.”
While she has always been artistic, Resler said she didn’t really start painting until 2005, and that Calgary-based Western and Native/cultural artist Doug Levitt—who has an artist studio in the Western Oasis showcasing his paintings—was her main mentor.
Having artwork featured at the Stampede is in her blood, as she recently found out her great-great-aunt, who used to ranch in Waterton during the late 1800s to early 1900s, used to submit her Métis beadwork to the Stampede during the early years when it started.
“I think it’s kind of fun to have a historical family connection that I wasn’t really aware of when I first started this,” she said.
Her preferred medium is oil paintings, and she said her inspiration comes from her love for the landscape.
“My husband and I have been in Okotoks for 30 years, and even prior to that we’ve always visited the Southern Alberta area, Crowsnest Pass and Waterton,” she said. “Everywhere you go the landscape is beautiful but there’s something really special about this area, and I love to paint it.
“An artist paints what they love, and hopefully it translates into something viewers enjoy also.”
When asked how long it takes her to finish a piece, she said she has developed a new answer — about 15 years and counting, because that’s when she started painting.
“Sometimes I’ll have a piece that I paint and I’m pleased with it, then I’ll hang it on the wall for a bit,” she said. “It can be months or even a year and I’ll go back and work into it a little bit, because I’ll have learned new things and want to bring a painting to a newer level.”
For her plein air paintings—a landscape painting technique that refers to quick, on-location paintings or sketches—45 minutes is a typical timeframe. She said she uses her plein air studies to create her larger studio pieces, which can take hours, days, or months to complete depending on size and complexity.
Resler provided a three-hour “Artist Insight” painting demo on Sunday, which she said is a great opportunity to chat with people.
“Honestly, there’s more chatting than painting going on,” she said with a laugh. “When I look at my piece, honestly I maybe got 15 to 20 minutes of actual painting in, but it’s great fun.”
The Arts and Lifestyle Show offers live music, food, art, crafts, and the Maker’s Market for Stampede attendees to enjoy, and aims to bring focus and attention to the softer and cultural sides of the Western lifestyle.
“(The Arts and Lifestyle Show) encompasses an awful lot of stuff that people just don’t realize, it’s all of those side things that come out of a successful and a full lifestyle,” said Pam Conlin, Western Showcase marketing co-ordinator for the show. “It’s where our music comes from and our art, and our cooking and our enjoyment of those things.
“It’s the culture and the history, and those artists around us, this is what they grew up with. They grew up with the Foothills and they grew up looking at the Chinook skies, and living the lifestyle of Calgary and the surrounding area and appreciating all of it.”
Art plays an important social role as well, said Conlin.
“I think in times where we’re starting to come out of or going into economic tribulation or tricky times, this is the stuff that can help take your mind off of it, just a little bit and celebrate the positive side of where we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going,” she said. “That can be extrapolated and voiced in so many different layers, and it’s always kind of fun to find an artist that speaks your language.”