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Val Marie located down south on Hwy 4 – has a population of about 100 people that interestingly enough has more than 11 artists in the mix.  That’s 11% of the population!  Think what that would be like, if you took that same percentage and applied it to a much bigger centre like Toronto or Vancouver – having 11% of the population actively pursuing art in various formats would make for a much different vibe in these cities – just as it does in Val Marie.

Val Marie’s Grain Elevator

I think part of why there are so many artists located there, is the surroundings itself.  Bordering Grasslands National Park artists, photographers and even writers (like moi), are simply inspired by the incredible beauty that exists there.  So inspired are their resident artists that they’ve got not one, not two, but three galleries going on (though one is admittedly just a small one in Colleen Watson’s own home – (GoHere to visit her amazing work at Red Calf Studio which can be found across from the old Grain Elevator)

The Museum at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage

The largest of the three galleries (though it’s actual gallery is quite small) is Prairie Wind & Silver Sage.  Not only a place for exhibits of art, it also plays quadruple duty as the Town’s Museum, it’s gift shop, and as their local coffee shop (they serve up pretty fine lattes and treats!), and free wifi as well.

The Gallery at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage

This year the Gallery at Prairie Wind & Silver Sage will be hosting two art exhibitions – photography by Robert W. Harwood (GoHere to see some of his photos on Flickr) and paintings by Nicole Dyck (GoHere to see her bio).

Grasslands Gallery

A little ways down the street you’ll find another great treasure in Laureen Marchand’s Grasslands Gallery. Bringing some of the best artists in the southwest in a multitude of genre’s together under one roof, you’ll find Swift Current’s Elaine Robitaille’s polymer clay beadwork turned into one-of-a-kind jewelry, and fellow Swift Currentian Louise Perrin’s beautiful Skyswept Designs hand-dyed scarves.

You’ll also find the incredible work of Laureen Marchand herself – who uses the Gallery as her studio during the summer months.

A painting by Laureen Marchand

For a full listing of all of the artists represented (as well as pictures of some of their pieces simply GoHere to a page on the Grasslands Gallery webpage.

In addition to promoting the work of artists in the Southwest, Laureen also writes a beautiful blog that shares some of why she chooses to live in Val Marie, tidbits and pieces about her art and the making of art, and general stories about life in general.  I’ve become quite a fan of her writing.

Painting Workshop and Retreat in Saskatchewan’s Beautiful Southwest Grasslands

Lucky for those burgeoning artists Laureen also offers a number of coaching and teaching opportunities, and her latest one looks like it’s going to be amazing:  A three day painting retreat with artist/instructors Catherine Macauley and Laureen herself.  Set in the amazing Grassland National Park despite the Workshops early November date (Nov 9-12th, 2012), the park is still open and available for a quick hike about, to shoot some pictures and then retreat to the warmth of the workshop to turn your photo into reality with the added help and encouragement offered.  A definite must for anyone who loves to paint.

Some of Catherine Macauley’s work

How to GoHere: Direction to Val Marie are about as simple as they get: head south down Hwy 4 out of Swift Current for about an hour and stop when you see Val Marie nestled on the side of the highway.  But if you really need one – here’s a map.

Gotta Go: There’s a quaint old-fashioned CLEAN public washroom in Prairie Wind & Silver Sage whose sign was so pretty!

Good to Know: 

  • PWSS is open 10 – 6. Grasslands Gallery is open 11 – 5 Tuesday to Thursday and noon – 5 Friday and Saturday. Look forward to meeting you!
  •  If interested in taking part in the painting workshop – $300 covers all workshop content, instruction, assistance, and encouragement. Includes breaks and lunches Saturday, Sunday and Monday. A non-refundable deposit of $75 will secure your place. The remainder is due by October 1. You can pay by cheque, cash, Visa or Mast

    Convent Country Inn


  • Those taking part in the workshop can stay at the Convent Country Inn – an old beautifully restored (you guessed it) convent, that now serves as the in-town bed and breakfast.  Costs for rooms are $59 to $89 per night plus PST/GST depending on size of room, including breakfasts on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. (Some rooms have two beds and can be shared).
  • The cabin up for raffle.

    The town’s historic Grain Elevator, the icon of every small Saskatchewan town is currently under threat.  To save it, the townsfolk of Val Marie have been fundraising – one of their more unique fundraisers is the raffling of this cabin, built from wood salvage from the Elevator’s annex.  Tickets are $50 and can be purchased from a number of Val Marie folks (ask at Prairie Wind and Silver Sage they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Prairie Wind & Silver Sage Reviews in Val Marie