The Artisan Gardens
Bow Valley Ranche • Fish Creek Restoration Society
The Artisan Gardens completes the Ranche at Fish Creek Restoration Society’s vision to honour the First Nations People and the rich history of the Bow Valley Ranche. This project brings together celebrated Canadian artists and people interested in creating a lasting legacy within a living piece of art.
Over 60 established Canadian artists and 175 pieces of original art are showcased in this one-of-a-kind art gallery in nature that is open to the public year-round. “There are 12 amphitheatre-style benches each housing six beautiful works rendered in a variety of media from oil to acrylic to mixed media stone, and copper and metal.” Says Larry Wasyliw, President of the Society. “Each work depicts the artists own unique interpretation of the art, history and culture of the Fish Creek Valley.”
In addition to the benches, life-sized bronzes recall the First Nations Heritage from the surrounding area. And The Branded Patio, comprised of 87 mosaic stepping-stones, displays the history of the brands of the Bow Valley Ranche and features personalized mosaics designed by families and crafted by Pamela Rogers, a local artist.
The Ranche at Fishcreek Restoration Society was began by Mitzie and Larry Wasyliw as a charitable foundation many years ago. They first began on restoring the old Burns House which had been left to go to ruins and after raising considerable sums of money the restorations were finally able to take place. The Artisan Gardens which is right next door to the Ranche House, was the next project again all the money was raised. The idea of an Art gallery outside to be on permanent display is quite unique. In general the design of the monoliths which hold the art pieces was specific to withstand the elements of heat, cold, rain , frost dew etc. The art itself has a process from start to finish. Firstly the preparation of the material which the Artist paints on, then after the paintings are finished the preparation of sealing the piece of art and then the mounting it in the monolith for permanent display of course vandalism, clarity etc were of concern and of major concern was protecting the art from the elements long term. There does not appear to be anything anywhere like this - a permanent Art Galley outdoors- especially with all the inclement weather that Calgary has to deal with - -35 degrees C is not unheard of! There were key elements in the process which we had to followed through in order to achieve this.
The art work had to depict something about Fish Creek Park, and the history of the Park. Robert Bateman, Paul Van Ginkel, Doug Swinton, Wendy Palmer are just some of the fine artist represented at the Gardens. My Painting "European Starling" depicts just one of the many species of birds found in the Park.