This year’s Ponoka Stampede poster features none other than rodeo stock contractor Harry Vold, also known as “The Duke of the Chutes.”
Leduc artist Donna King was chosen to paint this year’s poster because of her skill with painting animals and understanding who Vold was in the rodeo world, explained Stampede director Dale Olsen.
He said there were three artists who submitted work, which was based on a picture of Vold at the 75th anniversary of the Ponoka Stampede. That photo, taken by Mike Copeman, sits in the Stampede office.
“We used that as the basis for Donna to paint,” said Olsen, who added that the Vold family is honoured to have him featured.
King’s love of animals shows in the oil painting with Vold’s signature presentation at all the events he attended; riding on the back of a black horse.
“He always rode a black horse and he always wore his white hat,” said Olsen, fondly.
Highlighting Vold was important to King who painted him under a spot light. In the painting, the Duke of the Chutes is waiving his hat in the air in greeting to rodeo fans. Behind him are the bucking chutes.
“When I was talking with Dale he suggested the chutes, but in the back of my mind I had that,” said King.
It took her about two months from start to finish to complete the painting, which included the initial sketches and judging.
What’s more interesting is that King doesn’t have any formal art training. “(I’m) self-taught. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.”
“I feel unfulfilled if I’m not working on something,” said King.
She’s honoured to be chosen to do the work, saying that it was a big project for her. The toughest part of the painting for King was ensuring the portrait of Vold presented well.
King refined the hat and Vold’s face a few times until she was satisfied it did justice to who he was. “I just worked on it till I was happy with it.”
There’s a total of 82 specially numbered prints along with the original piece, which will get auctioned during the Ponoka Stampede live art auction. Olsen says there’s also a couple unnumbered prints for special VIPs.