By: Donny White
“Wild West Daze 2016” in Leader is creeping closer – mark your calendars for June 17, 18 and 19. The three day event includes something for everyone so pack up the family and head north to enjoy the big fish-fry on Friday night, followed by a “wild west scavenger hunt” and a slo-pitch tournament kick-off. Saturday continues with a jam-packed day of activities including a community breakfast, parade, home and leisure show, more slo-pitch, tractor pull, caboose rides, children’s activities, beer gardens and a dance concert in the evening. Sunday winds-up with a church service, slo-pitch finals and beer gardens/karaoke. Sounds like fun, and in-between events there is lots to see within a casual drive each direction from Leader.
Sharon Butala’s event at the Jasper Centre on May 28th was very enjoyable and it was nice to see a good crowd in attendance. Considering Sharon is one of Canada’s foremost authors I was disappointed to see only two educators in attendance (one retired and one who works out of town) as well as no students or any of the Arts Council members. However it was nice to see our librarian and three members of the local Library Board. It isn’t often Maple Creek has the opportunity to hear/meet an author of Sharon’s stature, especially someone who has done much to put the Southwest on the map through her literary works. In the scheme of things, it is the literary arts that have brought attention to our part of the world beginning with Wallace Stegner and continuing through the years with people like R.D. Symons, Robert Sheward, Don McGowan, J.G. Nelson, James Moir, Candace Savage, Sharon Butala and many others.
Wayne Baerwaldt, freelance curator informs me that Jon Bowie is featured in an upcoming exhibition in the prestigious Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge. The show is entitled “Field Portraits of Contemporary Western Culture” and features Bowie, Luis Fabini, Blake Little, Collier Schorr and Sheila Spence. In respect to the artists Baerwaldt remarks, “Each photographer makes field photographs that don’t look like anyone else’s pictures. In subtle shifts of perspective, each offers an open, flexible and unfinished Western narrative of identity, advocating for greater mediation in the illusion of presence.” A public opening will be held in the gallery on June 24, 7:00 p.m. and runs to September 16, 2016. For those not familiar with art galleries and their pecking order/protocol, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (or SAAG as it is commonly called) is considered one of the premiere Prairie galleries and securing an exhibition or being a participant in an exhibition is extremely difficult and considered a major coup for any artist. Congratulations Jon – your work speaks for itself and is being recognized accordingly.
For all you jazz fans, the Medicine Hat Jazz Fest is celebrating its 20th anniversary June 19 – 26. Dr. Bill Taylor, who has been involved in the music scene in Medicine Hat for at least as many years, tells me participants can expect a week of talented performers and exciting shows. The week-long program offers free concerts, family events, workshops, dance parties, club performances and concerts. This year’s event opens with two of the best – Jens Lindemann a trumpeter and one of the most celebrated artists in his field and Tommy Banks, pianist, conductor, arranger, composer and television personality. Banks played the inaugural concert for the Jazz Society in 1991. This duo will be playing music from their 2016 JUNO-nominated recording, “Legacy Live”. The Fest ends with home-town girl, Jesse Dollimont at the Esplanade. Festival tickets and passes are available through the Esplanade, Medicine Hat Mall Customer Service Kiosk and Tixx hotline (403) 502 8777. Southwest Saskatchewan’s Lyle Rebbeck, a native of Eastend has been the inspiration and producer behind the Jazz Fest since its inception and previous to the Fest, the formation of the umbrella group the Medicine Hat Jazz Society.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is hosting its 20th anniversary celebrations at Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area south of Maple Creek on June 18. A busy afternoon of activities is planned but due to logistics, the program is by invitation only. The conservation area was made possible through the partnership of The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Pete and Sharon Butala and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture. If you haven’t been to the site, make time this summer; you will not be disappointed. One of Maple Creek’s earliest pioneers, Alexander Gow (Scotty) purchased a ranch “at” Old Man on His Back in the teens/early 20s and it was here he died in 1930. Gow was with the NWMP at Maple Creek in the 1880s before taking up ranching in the Graburn district. He eventually returned to Maple Creek to manage a large livery barn on Jasper Street (where the Ford dealership is located), later investing in the ranch far to the south. He is buried in the Maple Creek Cemetery.
I recently had the privilege to meet Kent & Cheryl Tate and view some of Kent’s amazing art work. “Kent Tate is a Canadian artist who creates art works in various media, with a current focus on multi-channel video that navigates various separate, yet coexisting worlds.” Kent and Cheryl reside in British Columbia but have been working on a new film/art project inspired by the amazing landscapes near Maple Creek. The couple have lived in southwest Saskatchewan previously and Ken has two exhibitions travelling Saskatchewan Galleries – “Uncommon Landscapes” (multi-channel videos, two-person juried exhibition ) being toured by Organization of Saskatchewan Art Councils and “Movies for a Pulsing Earth” (multi-channel video – sculpture, touring solo installation and a series of artist talks) presently showing in the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery. Kent has been exhibited internationally at film and new media festivals, symposiums, juried screenings/exhibitions, as well as major solo gallery exhibitions/tours. We are fortunate to have a man of Kent’s talent/reputation in our community. For more information and examples of Kent’s inspiring and challenging work, check out his website, you will not be disappointed. Perhaps the Jasper Centre will arrange an evening with Kent once his present project is complete, as I’m sure many would like to meet this talented man and learn more about his work.
Extreme weather resulting in drought, floods etc. is always a topic of conversation in this part of the province, so I leave you with a small piece of trivia. In late May of 1909 an “earthquake shock” was felt throughout the Maple Creek district. The local newspaper editor eloquently described the event – the following taken from his account: “Nearly every store in town was vacated by customers and clerks alike, the swaying of the buildings and the swinging to and fro of suspended articles betokened to all that something out of the ordinary business routine was taking place.” No doubt the event was the highlight of conversation for months following. In late June of 1925 a similar aftershock was felt throughout the community and again recorded in the paper. If memory serves me correctly, an aftershock from an earthquake centered near Yellowstone was again felt in our area during the late 1950s/early 60s. I remember my parents and visiting relatives talking about dishes rattling in the china cupboard and a gentle shaking of the furniture. I was quite young at the time but perhaps one of the “older readers” can enlighten us more in this regard.