Sandra Beingessner working on her project that will be showcased at the Calgary Stampede this year.

Sandra Beingessner working on her project that will be showcased at the Calgary Stampede this year.

For the first time in her life, Sandra Beingessner is going to the Calgary Stampede. While that may not be a big deal to the thousands flocking to the famous festival as spectators, it is for Mrs. Beingesser, who will be one of six artists participating in the Stampedes Western Showcase Artist Ranch Project.

The Artist Ranch Project is an initiative designed to facilitate an interpretation of western heritage and values through contemporary art. Each year the Stampede funds a small group of selected contemporary artists to spend a weekend in Longview, Alberta to experience the western way of life on an authentic working ranch.

From there, artists are left to create a body of artwork inspired by their experiences that will later be exhibited in a unique exhibition and sale of work in the Calgary Stampede Western Showcase art show.

Growing up, Ms. Beingesser said she had always wanted to live on a ranch but instead became the owner of Bliss Hair Salon in Invermere. As a jewelry artist, when she learned that she had been selected as one of the few to spend a weekend on a real ranch, she couldnt hide her excitement.

This experience of going and spending time on two heritage ranches in Alberta was phenomenal for me because it took me back to my roots, she said.

After spending the weekend traveling backward to her roots, she found inspiration to complete some 10 different collections to be featured and sold at the Stampede. For example, in her mending fences collection, she used metallic glass to give a soft mat and chill marks on the glass to mimic the knots in the silver fence boards at the ranch. In her prairie sunset collection, she used pieces of glass to recreate the bright sun of an actual prairie sunset.

In the past, most of the artists featured at the showcase have been painters or college artists, Ms. Beingesser said, making her work as a jewelry artist unique to this years event.

Ive never actually been to the Stampede so Im pretty delighted even for anything, she said. Ive always wanted to go but just never got away because of how busy it is at work at that time of year.

Ms. Beingesser will be at the Western Showcase displaying her art throughout the Stampede from July 8th to 17th and hoping to sell as much of it as possible. Although shes excited for the opportunity, she said she wouldnt be here if she wasnt given the opportunity from the Calgary Stampede and the Artist Ranch board to find her inspiration on an authentic western ranch.

The heritage in this tour was just so rich and I just want to express how grateful I am to have the opportunity to have an international audience view my work because of having this exposure, she said.