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“By the Banks of the Bow” at the Calgary Stampede

In July, 2012 on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the Calgary Stampede unveiled the monumental bronze sculpture, “By the Banks of the Bow.” Created by Longview, Alberta sculptors and ranchers, Rich Roenisch & Bob Spaith, the sculpture was four years in the making and was commissioned especially to commemorate the Calgary Stampede’s centennial. The artists describe the work of art as a snapshot of the city’s ranching past, when the area around Calgary was a wide open prairie and ranchers herded their horses across the Bow River.

The subtle differences in the two artist’s styles reveal that each sculptor did one side of the sculpture, divided in the middle. The angular concrete base represents land on each side and water in the circular centre. Bob created the group of horses on left as they approach the Bow, plus the horse and rider and second horse in the river. Rich did the remaining two river horses and the group of horses exploding up the river bank on the right, led by another rider. Up close, Bob’s sculptures have crosshatching on their surface and curious cutoffs in places with gold leaf. Bob states this represents the present and future Calgary. Rich’s sculptures have a smoother finish done in a more traditional style, which represents the Calgary of the past. The entire sculpture is done in a gunmetal grey patina. The figures are 1.5 lifesize and they each have a powerful presence. The group on the right tower over 14 feet above the ground.

Situated on the Stampede grounds in front of the Agricultural building, the sculpture cost $2m and is the largest bronze composition in North America.

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