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Jasperites create guide to Alberta’s artists

guideWith the help of provincial funding, two Jasperites have been travelling across Alberta, searching for  tucked away artist studios that are often missed as travellers zoom by on the province’s well-worn highways.

Their search has taken them from Jasper to Airdrie, Grande Prairie, Beaverlodge, Bragg Creek and everywhere in between, where they’ve found painters, glass blowers, weavers, potters and sculptors.

Marianne Garrah and Dave Baker of Habitat for the Arts started this journey last year in an effort to create a comprehensive artist guide for the province. It’s called Alberta Artography.

“It will be a travel guide,” explained Garrah. “It’s a travellers guide to the arts and artists of Alberta.”

The idea is that travellers getting off the plane in Edmonton or Calgary can grab a guide from a Travel Alberta kiosk and then create an entire vacation, or just a side trip, focused on the arts.

“If you go to the airport in Edmonton and you get your rental car and you head for the road to Alaska, if you take a few days and you take little side trips you can find weavers, potters and glass blowers and all kinds of people, and all it takes is 10 minutes down a side road.

“This is how Dave and I tour,” said Garrah. “We always look for people off the beaten track.”

Garrah and Baker came up with the idea for a comprehensive artists guide seven years ago, but after some research, they realized they wouldn’t be able to make it a reality without some funding.

So, in 2013, they put together a grant proposal and submitted it to the province, and nearly a year later Habitat for the Arts received $15,000 to help cover Garrah and Baker’s travel costs.

“We started in mid-2014 putting the word to the street, collecting and travelling and now we’re really collecting and travelling and it’s all happening,” said Garrah, adding that their next stop is Lethbridge and then they’re off to Medicine Hat.

As they travel, Garrah and Baker set up shop in galleries, museums and coffee shops where artists hang out and they share their vision and solicit local artists.

To have their studios, galleries or collectives featured in the guide it costs $200. That fee includes the ad space, as well as the opportunity to have Baker create a video that will be available as part of the digital guide.

The hope is to have the guides completed by May, so that they’re available in time for the busy summer season and for the third annual National Congress on Culture, which runs May 7–8.

“I’m hoping that we have some semblance of a brochure to let Maureen Kubinec, minister of culture, wave high at the Congress on Culture,” said Garrah.

To find out more about Alberta Artography, visit

Nicole Veerman

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