Artists share their Christmas spirit

Arts: Okotoks Art Gallery showcases local artisans

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 08:23 am

Andrea Spiers, with the Town of Okotoks, decorates the Tree of Warmth with toques and mittens at the Okotoks Art Gallery in the Spirit of Christmas gallery. Donations of warm clothing and accessories will be accepted until Dec. 14.
Andrea Spiers, with the Town of Okotoks, decorates the Tree of Warmth with toques and mittens at the Okotoks Art Gallery in the Spirit of Christmas gallery. Donations of warm clothing and accessories will be accepted until Dec. 14.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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kotokians into the spirit of Christmas by showcasing their one-of-a-kind creations in the Okotoks Art Gallery.

The Spirit of Christmas Market, showcased in the large gallery since Nov. 15, features wares from approximately 40 Calgary and foothills artists including jewelry, ornaments, photographs, paintings, pottery, cards, wood work, metal work and stained glass.

Among the art displayed is stained glass and metal work by long-time Okotoks artist Shirley Paradis.

The 72-year-old Okotokian said the market is a great way to showcase local talent in the community and keep residents shopping locally. She displayed her art in the inaugural market last fall as well.

“It’s a really neat place to do your Christmas shopping because everything is original and you’re never going to see the same thing anywhere else,” she said. “Every time I make something it’s different.”

Paradis said her stained glass work has been well received by visitors to the gallery. She figures it’s the unique touches she makes incorporating flowers and animals made of copper, bronze, gold and other metals into the stained glass.

What she enjoys most about the market is the Christmas feel. The spirit of the season is enhanced with 14 decorated trees in the gallery, she said.

“It’s like a beautiful Christmas store,” she said. “It’s a nice environment to show in and a nice environment to sell in.”

Okotoks photographer Anne Durocher-Weston has a variety of photographs included in the market she and husband Mark took. The couple owns and operates Sheep River Photography in Okotoks.

Durocher-Weston said she finds the market a great way to get local shoppers into the downtown core.

“Everyone should come down and have a look and do their shopping here,” she said.

According to Town of Okotoks visitor services specialist Andrea Spiers, many are exploring the market.

Spiers said people are browsing through the market every day. Light Up Okotoks alone brought more than 1,000 people into the gallery.

Last year’s market took place in December, but Spiers expanded it another three weeks to incorporate Light Up Okotoks.

“That’s really when Christmas starts in Okotoks is with Light Up,” she said. “We’re going to continue doing that next year, too, and have it open before Light Up.”

“It’s almost like a big Christmas gift shop in a way with all local art and just a big shopping exhibit,” Spiers said. “It’s always different every year because the artists are always making new things every year.

All items exhibited are priced at $200 and lower.

Also getting people into the spirit of Christmas is the Tree of Warmth in the large gallery. The tree is decorated with new scarves, toques, gloves, socks and jackets donated by Okotokians for people in need, said Spiers. The Spirit of Christmas Market ends on Dec. 14.

The exhibit Dear Little Friends, created by Red Deer ceramic artist Alysse Bowd, is displayed in the small gallery. The exhibit is filled with whimsical ceramic pieces Bowd transformed into three-dimensional, colourful characters from ink drawn postcards.

The purpose of these little characters is to deliver notes, thoughts and warmth using various modes of transportation.

“It fit in with the whimsical theme of Christmas,” said Spier.

Both exhibits are open until Dec. 21.


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