The Calgary Stampede fires up Friday July 8th, first with its miles-long downtown morning Parade, immediately followed by full-on Western intensity of live music stages, indoor exhibitions and, of course, renowned world-class rodeo and chuckwagon events.
A mere mile away is Calgary’s first original outpost, the recently restored and expanded Fort Calgary complete with guided tours and exhibits (and where Friday’s parade starts from with hundreds of horses, floats, riding clubs dressed to the nines competing for best group display, and, truly outstanding, native First Nations riding in knockout full ceremonial costumes. Nearby, too, is Calgary’s very first original main street of historic Inglewood, its stores these days transformed into fashionable upmarket restaurants and antique galleries.
It’s also where, this year from July 9th to August 6th Edge Gallery will be hosting internationally recognized wildlife photographer and artist Maureen Enns displaying her latest eclectic collection of Alberta’s very own wild horses that roam the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies a hundred miles westwards. That first Saturday (July 9th from 1:00-4:00 p.m.) has the artist in attendance.
Enns’ work stretches back decades, to previous exhibitions at Masters Gallery and international Fairmont Hotel launches, as well as illustrations and photographs co-authored with bear expert Charlie Russell of the West Coast’s renowned spirit bears. Later they launched into remote wilderness areas of Russia’s Kamchatka working alongside grizzlies for eight-year studies done there. That partnership ended, a breath taken, before cataloguing the magical intense dance of Monarch butterfly migrations from Mexico to Canada – where three consecutive generations somehow navigate a perilous journey evolved over centuries.
It’s her wild horse work, though, with its tantalising insights into curious sometimes co-partnerships with wolves that’s she written of, painted, and photographed with evidence from hidden capture cameras that’s really up there, different. This exhibition captures too the unique adaptive behaviour of true ‘wildies’, ‘re-wilded’ herds tucked well away from humans into hidden high, wild locations.
Her charcoal drawings capture defences developed over decades of learned behaviour from whitetail and mule deer. These herds needed those abilities – backcountry here is a predator rich environment of cougars and grizzlies, wolf packs, vicious, extreme weather seasons too. Stallions carefully slide a nose and an eye from behind protective tree shelter; others ‘nose’ the air on still days to mix the smells, checking out potential predators nearby. Her mixed media photo-paintings (seamlessly bonded with oil and acrylics brush strokes), are extravagant; large, bright primary colour dances of infinitely careful small details – a bear-pawprint tucked into a corner, a swipe of crimson alluding to fall colours sliding in.
Further details are available at The Edge Gallery, 1416 – 9th Avenue SE, Calgary, AB; 403-233-7490; www.edgegallery.ca.