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Foothills art tour offers unique studio access

The Most Beautiful Art Tour in Alberta takes place on Sept. 16 and 17. The tour offers art viewing, demonstrations, and meet-and-greets with professional Foothills County creatives in Okotoks, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, and the Millarville area.

The Most Beautiful Art Tour in Alberta invites art lovers to explore the Foothills. 

The self-driving tour through the Foothills area offers unique access to artists' studios, plus the opportunity to view art shows and exhibits at area galleries on Sept. 16 and 17. 

Paper artist Susan Kristoferson said it is an opportunity to “come and talk to the artists, and see where they work, and have a wonderful time here in the Foothills.” 

It's a special opportunity to see where an artist works and what their personal studio is like, and the tour goes through some gorgeous country, Kristoferson said. 

“It’s rural, it’s rolling hills, it’s beautiful harvest time.” 

Having spent over 30 years honing her craft, Kristoferson specializes in hand-painted and hand-dyed paper which she uses to create collages. 

During the tour, she will be demonstrating a Japanese water marbling technique called suminagashi. 

“And what that means is that I have a flat tray of water, and with a certain kind of ink and something called a surfactant, I can get the ink to float on the water.”  

Using a variety of methods, she can make shapes or patterns with the ink and water. 

“I can move the surface of the water to get that pattern or that target to create interesting shapes,” she said.  

By moving the water and ink, and laying a piece of paper on the surface, she is able to create prints. 

During the tour, Kristoferson will have art on display ranging from a 12-foot-wide landscape of the Foothills and Rocky Mountains to smaller pieces that are six inches by eight inches. 

Much of her work is inspired by the hills and mountains in southwestern Alberta. 

“From the studio, I see the Rockies and the Foothills,” she said. “It's just gorgeous. It's stunning and it's ever changing, and that inspires me.” 

The Foothills is home to a community of professional artists, craftspeople and galleries who combine forces to put on the Most Beautiful Art Tour in Alberta twice per year. 

In addition to the private studios, four galleries are taking part.  

The Bluerock Gallery is opening a show with Calgary artist Barbara Ballachey on Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. The works will be available for viewing on both tour days. 

Firebrand Glass Studio will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will hold glass blowing demonstrations. There will be blown glass pumpkins and festive season decorations for sale. 

Kristoferson Studio will be demonstrating suminagashi on paper. 

Leighton Art Centre has two exhibitions that continue through Oct. 23. Night Lights: The Wonder of the Northern Lights by Billie Rae Busby features abstract landscape paintings. Come Paint Alberta is a collection of plein-air pieces created as part of an artist-led community project featuring Laurie Aldridge, Louise Lacey-Rokosh, Theresa Williams and 22 Alberta artists juried into the exhibition.  

Lineham House Galleries will be sharing a new Fall collection, as well as providing tours of historic Lineham House. 

Painter Mady-Thiel-Kopstein will be displaying art outside in her garden, weather permitting. 

The Okotoks Art Gallery (OAG) will have two new exhibits opening on Sept 17: Converse Subversives by Shona Rae and Big Rock River, and Contemporary Indigenous Art in an Ancient Land, which is a group show of local indigenous art featuring the works of Judy Anderson, Brittney Bear Hat, tīná gúyáńí (Deer Road), Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal, Lucas Hale and Adrian Stimson. Opening reception is from 1 to 3 p.m.

Also on Sept 17, the OAG will be holding its Art on the Lawn event, where local artists will be selling their work on the gallery lawn. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Stone Wood and Steel is a family-run blacksmith studio. Lead Blacksmith James Greisinger’s metal art combines silhouettes found in the landscapes of the Canadian Rockies with the raw tradition of blacksmithing. 

For a map of locations or more information, visit 

The next "all-access" tour is planned for Dec. 2 and 3, 2022.

Robert Korotyszyn

About the Author: Robert Korotyszyn

Robert Korotyszyn covers Okotoks and Foothills County news for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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