| 08 July, 2012 13:11
I was featured for a story in the Calgary Herald about the Stampede Western Art Gallery:
Centennial holds special meaning for Calgary artist
Sunday, July 08, 2012
The Western Art Showcase is open daily in the BMO Centre.
Exhibiting her abstract landscape paintings at the Western Art Gallery during the centennial Calgary Stampede is not just a professional triumph for up-and-coming artist Billie Rae Busby. It's also a matter of deep emotional investment for her, putting the artist in touch with the memories of her late mother and grandfather.
Although she's been drawing and painting since her teenage years, Busby, 37, felt like she was searching for her artistic voice back in 2007 when her mother fell ill with cancer, a traumatic event that had the artist making a frequent drive from Calgary to Yorkton, Sask.
"You become a little bit contemplative and nostalgic on those long trips," she says. "I was really interested in landscapes at the time. . . . When I was travelling through the prairies I would take a ton of photos . . . and then it just kind of clicked."
Busby began interpreting her prairie photos in her paintings, but rather than realistic, literal renditions, the results came to life in a decidedly abstract style. "It wasn't about capturing any specific place, but more that feeling of driving through the prairies," Busby says. "It was more about the mood."
When Busby submitted six of these paintings to the Western Art Gallery for its Calgary Stampede Showcase she admits she was uncertain as to how her work would be received. After all, this was most certainly not the traditional western art that the Stampede is known for.
"I was honestly surprised at how they embraced my work," she says, noting that six of her pieces are in the exhibition. "I was surprised to get in. We've all been to shows at Stampede and it's usually a lot of cowboys and horses and barns."
Busby is especially honoured to be a part of the Calgary Stampede's 100th anniversary because of a family connection to the event.
Her grandfather Frank Sparrow was an infield announcer at the Stampede from the 1920s through to the 1960s, directing rodeo traffic in the chutes and calling the action for the fans through his megaphone for more than 40 years. Her grandpa passed away when Busby was about two, and she never really knew him.
"With this being the 100th anniversary and me not really knowing my grandpa, this sort of gives me that connection to my family and to our long-standing history here in Calgary," she says.
And there's another new family connection that will make Busby's showing at this year's Stampede an event to forever cherish.
Last Tuesday the artist gave birth to a baby girl, Harper Lynn, she and her husband's second born.
That event caused her to miss the opening of the Western Art Gallery's Stampede Showcase on Wednesday evening. Contacted by the Herald that night, still virtually sleepless from the delivery, Busby was too tired for much of a follow up interview. But a quote she had given earlier about her part in the art show likely sums up her feelings on the exhibition.
"I think I feel extra honoured."
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