Each year the Stampede funds a small group of selected contemporary artists to spend a weekend in Longview to experience the western way of life on an authentic working ranch. The artists will then create a body of artwork inspired by their ranch experience, culminating in a unique exhibition and sale of work in the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase art show.

This program is called the Artist Ranch Project.

2016 Artist Ranch Project by Michelle Atkinson
Glass piece by Michelle Atkinson, inspired by the red barn at the OH Ranch

Six artists had the chance to visit the Eau Claire Distillery, located in Turner Valley which practices Farm to Glass–sourcing their grain from local Alberta Farms, like the Bar U Ranch.

At the Bar U Ranch, they watched six threshing teams harvest grain. They made homemade ice cream in the field, flavoured with prickly pear vodka.

They also spent a day the historic OH Ranch, learning and experiencing what life is like on a working cow ranch. Here’s a look at their work and impressions during their residency.

Artist Ranch_2
Sculpture by Ken HouseGo


“The Bar U Was a major Percheron horse breeding ranch prior to the first World War. Walking around the historic buildings and surroundings caused my mind’s eye to imagine what the ranch looked like a century ago with 700 horses and 400 brood mares. This motivated me to fabricate in paint glimpses of that world early in the 20th Century.” –Verne Busby

Verne Busby
Verne Busby’s Bar U-inspired work

Jewlery artist Sandra Arnold-Beingessner said the weekend brought her back to her prairie roots. She grew up with a farming lifestyle in Saskatchewan, but never lived on a ranch as an adult. The jewelry inspired by the Artist Ranch Project finds inspiration from in everything from the horse gear to fences to the prairie sunsets.

Sandra's work, inspired by the prairie sunset
Sandra’s work, inspired by the prairie sunset

“Walking amidst some of the most fertile ground in the world and gazing upon majestic coulees, ridges and meadows, I found myself pondering the tragic loss of this precious heritage. We have been given this gift–everything from the land beneath our feet thrust upwards to the all-encompassing sky, including all living things that inhabit it–and it is our responsibility to steward this inheritance.” –Bonnie Macrae-Kilb

Bonnie Macrae-Kilb work, inspired by Indian Village

“Through my perspective I wanted to honour the people and the lifestyle that they were living; the old-school methods of harvesting that were shown to us; the Hutterites gathering to watch the harvest; the buildings and people who inhabited them.” –Amy Dryer

Vanessa_Amy Dryer
Amy Dryer’s portrait of 2016 Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm

Amy Dryer’s portrait of Vanessa was donated to hang in the Sweetgrass Lodge in Indian Village, ENMAX Park.