Calgary Stampede debuts new Art Walk brochure at Jane’s Walk 2017

Art Walk Brochure - cover image

Imagine the excitement of watching your first Calgary Stampede Parade or the anticipation of participating in a round up and leading a herd of horses across the Bow River. The Calgary Stampede’s public art pieces allow you to imagine these experiences and more.

The Stampede has 19 pieces of public art located throughout Stampede Park, and two other pieces located in downtown Calgary.

This year, the Calgary Stampede Public Art committee has created a new Art Walk brochure to include recent art installations and to provide a better guest experience.

Also featured is the newest art installation, Rainbow Trout, an impressionistic piece by Calgary artist Jeff De Boer located in Enmax Park near MacDonald Bridge. De Boer’s inspiration for the piece was his fond memories of spending beautiful summer days fly fishing along the Elbow River. The sculpture is symbolic of diversity and serves as a gateway between the Calgary Stampede and the Ramsay community.


Rainbow Trout installation on Stampede Park.

The new brochure will debut at this year’s Jane’s Walk at Stampede Park, happening Sunday, May 7, 2017.  Jane’s Walk is a global festival that encourages people to get out and explore their communities in a new way.

Come out and meet our knowledgeable and enthusiastic Stampede volunteers from the Historical and Public Art committees at 1p.m. on May 7 in front of the Cowboys Casino. Participants will receive a copy of the brochure and a guided tour of the public art pieces on Stampede Park. Refreshments will be provided and the Calgary Stampede Trolley will be on hand to help transport participants along the route.

To do your own self-guided tour of the public art on Stampede Park, pick up a copy of the brochure at the Stampede Headquarters Building and at tourist information centre’s throughout the city. The brochure will also be available at a later date on our website:

2017 Jane’s Walk at Stampede Park

Date: Sunday, May 7, 2017
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Cowboy’s Casino – 421 12 Ave. SE.

We hope you join us for an afternoon filled with beautiful pieces of art!

Calgary Stampede History Moments Presents: Bert Smith in Memoriam

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Bert Smith, Cowboys herding cattle across river in the Prairies, c. 1960. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood MH.006.002.165

Noted western artist Bert Smith passed away on February 17, 2017. Smith’s artwork captures the real feel of the western way of life.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Bert Smith featured here on the right. The picture was taken in 1960 in photographer Gil Garon’s (centre) studio in High River. Courtesy of the Museum of the Highwood.

Many of Bert Smith’s paintings and sketches illuminate the book Just About Nothing, which was written by Bert Sheppard, the long-time OH Ranch manager and later owner. Sheppard included a passage about Smith:

“Bert was born at Mutrie Saskatchewan on Feb. 24, 1929, and went to school at Philomath. At an early age he became interested in photography, and later took a correspondence course in art from Washington D.C. Bert worked as a commercial artist in Montreal for one and a half years. He then did art work for Ken Coppock who was secretary for the Western Stock Growers Association, and manager of their ranch supplies department. It was there that I met Bert Smith. On New Year’s Day he arrived at the TL (connected) Ranch to spend three days visit, and stayed three years. It was quite apparent that he had exceptional ability as an artist and photographer. To gain additional ranch experience he was at Joe Bew’s [sic] Y Cross Ranch, The Chattaway Bar S Ranch and the Blades [sic] Rocker P [sic]. It was there while helping to move a large herd of cattle to summer range that he suffered an aneurysm, which ended his art career. He retired to Longview where he now resides. He spends a good deal of his time tutoring the small fry in the preliminary stages of art.”[1] Continue reading

There are two Oases that offer a break at Stampede Park

Most people know about the Western Oasis, retreat for Cabernet cowfolks who prefer a civilized glass of wine to mud and beer.  In that quiet murmuring space visitors can enjoy the variant colours and textures of the different works on display in the western art show and the western photo gallery. My personal favourite is Bonnie MacRae-Kilb’s work, featured in the Artist Ranch Project, as striking and energetic as the artist herself. That Oasis is a wonderful spot, reminding us that celebrating our western heritage is tied to image and art, which speak for both memory and vision.

Photo Credit: Andy Nichols / Calgary Stampede

The other is Enmax Park, the new Indian village, which combines the best of the old village with a better location, the striking Treaty 7 family teepees set into the crook of the confluence of the Elbow and the Bow.  The new setting is lush and well planned, now slightly apart from the hurly burly of the midway and the bustling crowds. The Bannock Booth is busier than ever, and I tasted the best bannock I have ever eaten the other day.  The grassy expanse, the picnic area, and the serenity of the new spot all combine with the interpretive programs and dances, and celebrate the powerful cultural heritage of the people who have gifted us this land. The 26 tipis representing the Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani nations are circles of memory and respect, of the ongoing traditions of the land and the indigenous people and their continuous role in our history.

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede

Both are worth visiting, offering a chance to spend a few quiet hours away from the muddy infield, a small circle of stillness and quietude at the heart of Stampede’s celebration.

Behind the scenes of Stampede’s newest public art piece, Rainbow Trout

The newest piece of Calgary Stampede public art, Rainbow Trout, was unveiled today. Years of experience and months of thought, planning and construction went into this piece, created by Calgary Artist Jeff de Boer. The piece is the first of five public art pieces planned for ENMAX Park.

The 6.5 metre sculpture took de Boer and his team more 2,000 hours to build, 750 of which were spent grinding and polishing the base. Powder coated stainless steel and aluminum sheet metal make up the six sections of the trout body that was fabricated in de Boer’s Ramsay studio. The stainless steel pipe base structure was also fabricated in Calgary and employed two people full time during these tough economic times.

Jeff de Boer studio

For de Boer, Rainbow Trout is the product of a lifetime of developing his ideas and skills. His experiences with great works of modern art from around the world are reflected in this sculpture. The stainless steel pipe structure takes its inspiration from Japanese splashing wave patterns. The engineering and lines of the pipe get their strength from the same principles as gothic arches. The back supports for the fish body components are external decorative structures like flying buttresses. The open work and use of light and color to detail the fish image are similar to stained glass. “This sculpture is the product of a long journey of a community and, from that, myself,” said de Boer.

Jeff de Boer

Raised in Calgary, de Boer grew up fishing the Bow and Elbow rivers. So why not a Rainbow Trout where the Elbow enters the Bow? It’s a crossroads of two rivers and a metaphor for evolution, history and culture. Rainbow Trout speaks to diversity, cultural excitement and energy in Calgary. Its forms and shapes are both literal and abstract, bright and sophisticated.

Lit by LED lights, Rainbow Trout takes on an entirely different and spectacular look at night. Each panel is interesting to view on its own, but as an added delight, there is a “sweet spot” from which to view the sculpture where the whole design comes together to reveal the complete image.

Rainbow Trout

The de Boer name is not new to the Stampede story.  de Boer’s father helped build the Union 76 Clock Tower that was once an iconic meeting place for Stampede goers. de Boer hopes Rainbow Trout becomes another iconic meeting place to visitors of ENMAX Park and ultimately Stampede Park.

Rainbow Trout welcomes the community at the north entrance of ENMAX Park near the historical MacDonald Bridge. Displaying public art in ENMAX Park is part of the overall vision to make Stampede Park a year-round gathering place. Designed to be an open-air museum and outdoor classroom, ENMAX Park is also a way for us to share our stories of western heritage, our commitment to environmental stewardship and the milestones of Calgary’s rich history with the community.

Join the Calgary Stampede for Jane’s Walk on Saturday, May 7

Know where one of the largest pieces of public art in North America is located? Ever wonder what the first Stampede Parade was like? Heard the story of the first saddle bronc champion in Calgary and the famous horse he rode?

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede

For the answer to these questions, and many more, join members of the Stampede’s Public Art and Historical committees on Saturday, May 7, for a guided tour of the many and varied public art pieces on Stampede Park.

The tour begins in front of Cowboy’s Casino (421 – 12 Ave SE) at 2 p.m. and is part of Jane’s Walk, an event started nine years ago to honour the legacy of Jane Jacobs, a writer and an activist who believed that great cities are created by the people who live in them. Jane’s Walks are now held around the world to encourage people to connect with each other and explore their communities.

Meant to be a walking conversation rather than a lecture, during the tour, Stampede volunteers will share interesting stories and notable facts about the more than 15 pieces of art on Stampede Park, from larger than life wall murals to grand bronze sculptures, each depicting people and events that have shaped the history and identity of our city.

The Calgary Stampede , Friday, July 6, 2012. Photo by Mike Ridewood

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, or for those who would appreciate help getting around the Park, the Stampede Trolley will be available to take people from piece to piece along the route.

We’d love to share our history and our art with you! Whether you are new to the city or a lifelong Calgarian, the art walk is sure to provide some new insight into “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”

In addition to special events like Jane’s Walk, self-guided tours of the public art on Stampede Park are available with the aid of the art walk guide. And for more information on Jane’s Walk and the other events being held in Calgary May 6-8, visit

How to be an Arts Champion

Fiddlers. Break dancers. Painters. Sculptors. Singers.

130 young people armed with brass and kettle drums.

Calgary Fiddlers

The Telus Youth Arts Showcase was an inspiring start to the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions.

As the Calgary Stampede Showband, joined by the Stetson and Round Up bands thundered “Jubilateo” (commissioned for the Showband as part of the 2012 Stampede Centennial celebrations) to open the lunch, I couldn’t help but feel a little humbled by all the time and passion that these young people, their instructors and their parents invested to bring them to that moment.

Stampede Showband

The Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions “celebrates the transformative power of the arts, building momentum for the future.”

Arts Showcase_Pulse Studios

If we believe that arts are a vital part of any vibrant community, how can we support? How can we be an arts champion?

In her welcome message, Patti Pon, president & CEO of Calgary Arts Development and chair of the Stampede Community Projects and Development volunteer committee writes:

“[Arts champions] see the arts as a good thing, as something of value, as a way to make discoveries to connect with others, to celebrate life, and to make meaning about what it is to be alive. They see arts as a way to develop youth into their best selves and to help tell our stories in the world.”

Youth Showcase

Did you know that Calgary Arts Development invested in 150 arts organizations on behalf of the City of Calgary in 2015 alone? Wow.

When I started working for Stampede, I had no idea how invested the organization is in the arts.

Stampede invests in youth development programs like the Stampede Showband and The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede. Did you know that every one of the participants in these programs is given a scholarship by the Calgary Stampede Foundation?

The new Youth Campus will be a hub for creativity—as home to the Calgary Opera, Calgary Arts Academy in addition to the aforementioned youth programs.

The Public Art volunteer committee works to bring public art works that tell the story of our western heritage—they have brought works like Outlaw to the community, and By the Banks of the Bow to Stampede Park. They will unveil a new artwork in ENMAX Park this May.

Western Showcase committee brings Western Canada’s largest Western Art Show to Stampede each year, showcases crafts, culinary arts and runs an artist-in-residence program throughout the year.

Youth Talent Search gives young people the chance to showcase their craft and winners get access to incredible resources, including a $10,000 grand prize.

The great takeaway? There are infinite ways to be an arts champion and we all have the capacity to be one.

The Stampede is honoured to work with artists of all ages – to invest in the next generation of creatives and patrons. And to live in a city where arts and arts champions abound.

Introducing Jeff de Boer

I know that all you culture cravers and urban art aficionados are eagerly awaiting the opening of ENMAX Park in July 2016—since we announced that local artist, Jeff de Boer was selected to create a new sculpture to grace the MacDonald Bridge entrance earlier this year, the community has been abuzz with excitement!

Photo credit: Jeff de Boer website

Photo credit: Jeff de Boer website

I got the opportunity to tour de Boer’s studio and learn more about his work, as well as what inspires him to create.

de Boer is a multimedia artist, best-known for his whimsical metal sculptures—you may have seen his work at the Calgary International Airport (Tin Toy) or Cyclone, at the Glenbow Museum. He’s also received a Board of Governors Award of Excellence for his work instructing at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). An ACAD graduate, who majored in jewelry design, de Boer now works with various mediums to create pieces that surprise, delight and make memories. Continue reading

2016 Calgary Stampede poster and the poster artwork legacy

The Calgary Stampede unveiled our 2016 poster in the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery of the Calgary Public Library’s central branch on October 5, 2015. Community members and Stampede volunteers and employees were thrilled when the curtain pulled back to reveal the priceless piece by award-winning local artist, Michelle Grant: Born to Buck, pictured below.


“When you visit the Stampede Ranch in Hanna [Alberta], you witness many scenes of horses running freely in the fields together,” said Bill Gray, president & chairman of the Calgary Stampede board of directors, “and that was the inspiration for the poster.” Continue reading

Fall reflections

Because the run up to and the 10 days (actually now more like two weeks) of Stampede are so busy it is no real surprise that August is a relatively quiet month around Stampede Park as many of our employees and volunteers take holiday time. One of the biggest stories of the summer was the Calgary Flames’ announcement of their proposed Calgary Next project in West Village. I think it is clear that the public consultation process for this project will be measured in years and not weeks or months and even if the project goes ahead the Flames are likely to be playing in the Saddledome for the next five years and possibly longer so we look forward to working with the Flames for at least that period.

Once September started, it was clear that everyone involved with the Stampede was back and working hard.  Lots has happened already this fall, including the following:


1. I attended the crowning ceremony for our new Calgary Stampede Queen and Princesses on September 28 in the Agrium Western Event Centre.  It was a great event and congratulations to our new Royal Trio, Calgary Stampede Queen Maggie Shortt and Calgary Stampede Princesses Chelsey Jacobson and Bailee Billington. I want to commend the outgoing Royal Trio, Mick, Kimberly and Haley, for being such great ambassadors for the Stampede and a fun bunch to work with.

206 Calgary Stampede Queen, Maggie Shorrt (middle), and Princesses, Chelsey Jacobson (left) and Bailee Billington (right) immediately following the crowning ceremony.

2016 Calgary Stampede Queen, Maggie Shorrt (middle), and Princesses, Chelsey Jacobson (left) and Bailee Billington (right) immediately following the crowning ceremony in the Agrium Western Event Centre.


2. I also had the pleasure of attending the Indian Princess crowning ceremony on Sunday, October 4.  It was an excellent and well-attended event and it was great to see five talented ladies vying for the position.  Congratulations to Vanessa Stiffarm who I know will be a great addition to our Royalty and a terrific representative of Indian Village.

2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm receiving her crown.

2016 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm receiving her crown.


3. On Monday, October 5 I was proud to unveil the original artwork for the 2016 Stampede Poster at an event at the Calgary Public Library.  The painting is titled “Born to Buck” and it represents and honours a stock breeding program carried on under the same name at the Stampede Ranch in Hanna, Alberta, as well as our successful rodeo stock contracting business, which services rodeos all across North America.  The artist, Michelle Grant, did a fantastic job of capturing the concept and she created a beautiful piece of art by any standard and the painting translates into an excellent poster.

Bill Gray, president and chairman on the board, artist Michelle Grant and the Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster artwork. Visit a Calgary Public Library between October 6 and 11 to take a selfie with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster and you could be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Rodeo or Evening Show and #Stampede2016. Visit for more details.

Artist Michelle Grant, the Calgary Stampede Queen & Princesses and me with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster artwork. Visit a Calgary Public Library between October 6 and 11, 2015 to take a selfie with the 2016 Calgary Stampede poster and you could be entered to win a pair of tickets to the Rodeo or Evening Show and #Stampede2016. Visit for more details.


4. On a serious note, there is no question that many businesses and individuals in Calgary are facing tough economic times, as evidenced by the now almost daily announcements of job cuts.  Certainly the Stampede is not immune to the economic climate and you may be aware that we are revising our volunteer committee budgeting process accordingly. For the first time that I am aware of, a member of our Audit and Finance Committee Budget Group will be meeting directly with the Committee Chairs and staff liaisons to discuss and review the Committee budgets prior to their finalization.  The goal is to hopefully find some opportunities for savings but most importantly we wanted to involve the Committee Chairs in the decision-making process as I believe the Committees themselves know how their programs work and they are the best equipped to determine where cuts might be made and where they should not be made. I hope all the Committee Chairs will take the opportunity to provide their valuable input into this process.


Jane’s Walk : Come and see the art of the Calgary Stampede

Jane’s Walk is Sunday, May 3. We are meeting in front of the Cowboy’s Casino at 2 p.m. and we’d love to have you join us. Bring a camera and your art appreciation hat.

Once again the Calgary Stampede is participating in Jane’s Walk. The Public Art committee, together with the Historical committee, is set to share the art and history of the Calgary Stampede. Normally a walking tour, ours is more of an on-and-off guided trolley ride that follows the Stampede art walk.


We will visit nine sculptures and eight murals. Each one is rich in history. We love sharing our stories with the community.

The Stampede’s passion for public art dates back to 1912, when Ed Borein and Charlie Russell showcased their artwork at the Calgary Stampede. By the 1980s, the Western Art Show had become a regular feature of the 10-day Stampede. Today, the Stampede’s annual Western Art Show is one of Canada’s most significant art shows. The Stampede also celebrates art and western heritage year-round through the historical mural program and the parade of historical posters.


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