Rodeo bleeds into art auction

More than 30 bidders vied for best price at the art auction during the Ponoka Stampede June 30.

Miss Ponoka Stampede Shelby Simmonds and Alberta High School Rodeo Queen Whitney Block hold up CrAsh Cooper’s commissioned painting of Rod Hay at the art auction June 30.

Miss Ponoka Stampede Shelby Simmonds and Alberta High School Rodeo Queen Whitney Block hold up CrAsh Cooper’s commissioned painting of Rod Hay at the art auction June 30.

More than 30 bidders vied for best price at the art auction during the Ponoka Stampede June 30. Among the items was a commissioned painting by artist and entertainer CrAsh Cooper of highly decorated saddlebronc rider Rod Hay.

The Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association commissioned the work, which sold for $5,000 at the auction. Cooper was pleased at the sale and for being able to do the painting. He was also given artistic freedom to create the painting that was sold. “They (Stampede board) gave me pretty good rein.”

Just seeing the painting framed and ready for auction was a joy for Cooper. His biggest hope was to make it worthwhile for the association.

“I’m already happy because I was honoured to do it,” added Cooper.

Organizer Inge Sybrandi, spends most of the year planning the art show held on the last four days of the Stampede. She was nervous to see how the sale went. “I think the more you do, the more people expect.”

She took over the art show a few years ago and has been able to use the art auction as a tool to advertise the show. Artists from Calgary also submitted to the auction and Sybrandi submitted her own oil painting piece, which sold for $1,000.

Joe Dodds, president of the Stampede Association, says the auction is another part of the whole rodeo experience in Ponoka. “It’s something unique that many rodeos don’t do.”

He hopes to attract more rodeo fans to the Stampede and he praised Sybrandi for bringing the auction. “Inge does a great job for us.”

Cooper was not the only entertainer who submitted work into the auction; Dr. Lynn Phillips, rodeo announcer for the Ponoka Stampede for the last 25 years, donated a digitally painted photograph he took of the chuckwagons last year. The piece sold for $1,000.

Phillips and Cooper are able to make a crowd of 10,000 people laugh with little effort and they joked about the experience. They do not practice too much either.

“Both of us like that. Rehearsal gets stale,” stated Phillips.

The goal is to play off each other during a performance to captivate rodeo fans.

“It’s trying to complement each other,” added Cooper.

He was pleased to be part of the auction and a limited edition signed print of the painting sold for $700.