The newest addition to culture in Cochrane is presenting an exciting new art exhibition and sale featuring the works of Calgary Stampede Hall of Fame artist Vilem Zach in historic downtown.
Zach’s new sculptures and paintings will be on display at the Art Evolution gallery from Nov. 10 to Dec. 11.
Art Evolution is an international fine art company that operates major art exhibitions and public art installations around the world.
This is Zach’s first exhibition since 2017 and features never-before-seen bronze sculptures and paintings. Many of Zach’s monumental sculptures can be seen at numerous tourist attractions and in private collections throughout Canada.
Zach told The Eagle he was happy to be back on the business side of his profession, after a long wait for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted. He said some galleries closed down amid the pandemic.
He soldiered on through the last couple of years, taking pleasure and comfort in his art.
“I just kept on going, and sculpting. It’s my job and it’s my hobby also, so, you just keep on working,” he said.
Working may have been the upside. But as with any artist who casts his work in bronze, the business side of the equation soon caught up with the creative.
“The downside is you’re not selling anything, and I still have to cast, which costs a lot of money,” he noted.
In spite of all his accolades, Zach remains modest. He responded to a compliment from The Eagle with, “Thank you very much. Stop. You’re making me blush,” and a quiet laugh.
As a boy growing up in Prague, Czech Republic, he loved ‘playing cowboy’ and the images of the old west.
That childhood fascination eventually led to a career in Indigenous and cowboy-themed art.
He spent numerous years studying privately in Prague but found life unrewarding under communist rule, so he left his homeland and moved to Canada in 1969, as a 24-year old.
Once settled in a new and free atmosphere, Zach began exploring working with different media such as acrylics, oils, pastels, and clay.
He was able to transform his childhood dream into a full-time profession, focused on western Canadian culture. Zach’s work often shows candid moments in detail.
In 1978, he started putting more time into sculpting and also had enough money saved to have his pieces casted – the medium he is now most internationally known for. He has many life size statues and heroic monuments that can be seen at numerous tourist attractions and in private collections.
Some of the monumental works are "The Calgary Time Capsule Monument," "Olympic Torch Runners Monument," (to commemorate the 16th Winter Olympic Games held in Calgary), and the "Me. W, C, Van Horne Statue," which is in front of the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta.
Collectors include the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C., Petro Canada, Canadian Pacific Hotels, The Banff Museum, and the Calgary International Airport. Some private collectors include President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Prince Andrew of England, Governor Frank Heating of Oklahoma, and Ralph Lauren.
Art Evolution President and CEO Christopher Talbot said he’s had a long and fruitful relationship with Zach – one of Canada’s most important living artists.
“We’ve got something here that’s really special with Vilem – we’ve sold all over the world,” Talbot said.
Talbot added that a world-renowned artist with a track record is something unique anywhere, especially in Cochrane.
It’s part of the reason he’s chosen Cochrane as the location for his gallery, which opened earlier this year on Main Street.
The themes Zach portrays are a natural fit with the town’s heritage, according to Talbot.
“It’s relevant and important, a historical artist dedicated to Indigenous and cowboy art,” the gallery owner said.
Cochrane Tourism is partnering with Art Evolution at their new location in Cochrane.
The sale and exhibition runs until Dec. 11 at The Art Evolution gallery, located at 208 First St. W.