Calgary Stampede Art Walk

mural depicting the chuckwagon races, part of the Calgary Stampede Art WalkI can’t believe how many pieces of public art I’ve failed to notice when ‘Stampeding’ in the past. I bet most visitors to Calgary’s famous 10-day rodeo are in the same boat. Until I did the Calgary Stampede Art Walk, I had no idea the Stampede had such a long tradition of celebrating and commissioning art.

The self-guided walking tour showcases 19 sculptures and murals located in and around Stampede Park. Each year in May, Stampede volunteers host a a guided version of the tour as part of Jane’s Walk, which I joined. However, you can do it on your own any time by downloading the Art Walk brochure. It’s a colourful way to learn about Calgary’s western heritage and the history of the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”.

These walls tell stories

Despite many visits to Stampede Park, I’d never noticed the large mural of an early chuckwagon race on the wall of the BMO Centre. I’d also failed to give a second glance to the murals across from the Saddledome. These ones  depict Guy Weadick‘s big-time rodeo dreams and the Stampede parade. Other murals around the park recreate scenes from early agricultural exhibits, the RCMP ceremonial ride and more.

two murals that are part of the Calgary Stampede Art Walk

Horse power

A sculpture I had noticed before (it’s impossible to miss) is the massive multi-piece bronze in front of the new Agriculture building. Titled “By the Banks of the Bow”, it includes 15 larger-than-life-sized horses and two cowboys, all in various stages of a river crossing.

Created by two artists from southern Alberta, it’s one of the largest public art pieces in North America. It’s a stunning representation of western spirit. We were allowed to touch the horses and climb all over the sculpture. It was a great way to channel our inner cowgirls and cowboys.

banks of the bow bronze sculpture on the Calgary Stampede grounds

Making an entrance

Next we saw one of my favourite pieces – the abstract “Tipi” that towers above the main entrance to the Stampede Grounds. The jagged bottom edge depicts the Rocky Mountains, and the five symbols at the top represent the First Nations tribes who have participated in the Stampede over the years.

Underneath the tipi is a bronze called the “Bronc Twister”. It was created by one of the same artists who worked on “By the Banks of the Bow”. It’s a representation of the saddle bronc rodeo event and features a horse purchased for the Stampede by Guy Weadick in 1918. If you look closely, you’ll see an “IC” brand on the neck of the horse. That  means it was “Inspected and Condemned” by the American army as unfit for battle. Still fit enough to challenge a cowboy though!

Doing the walk

We saw many other sculptures and murals in and around Stampede Park, and there will be new works commissioned in the years to come. The knowledgeable guides on our tour provided entertaining colour commentary and great historical context. It’s definitely sign up for the Jane’s Walk if you’re in town in early May.  If you’re doing the tour on your own, the brochure will be your guide along with the plaques by each of the pieces. They provide details on the artists, history and significance of the works.

For more Calgary outdoor art with diverse themes and forms, try this Calgary Downtown Public Art Walk. I for one have a new resolve to slow down and look at the art wherever I go.

Happy trails,

Mona signature

 

Save

Save

Save

Comments

  1. I did this art walk also and learned lots.

Speak Your Mind

*