Featured Artist: Ashleigh Moore

Simplicity is the key note of all true elegance
— Coco Channel

We couldn't be more proud to have this incredibly talented jeweller in Okotoks. It's said that jewelry is a very personal thing, and that it tells a story about the person wearing it. In the case of Ashleigh Moore's line, the story is one of thoughtful innovation, modern elegance, and chic minimalism. 

Ashleigh graduated with her BFA in Jewelry and Metals from Calgary’s prestigious Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) in 2010. She initially began with a degree in Visual Design but soon discovered the magical, tangible, qualities of metal. From there she soon fused her passion for design, with her love of creating pieces of art with her hands.

The rest, as they say, is history, or, should we say the future!

With a keen eye for design and style, and the ability to keep up with the latest design trends, her work has been showcased on the runway at YYC Fashion Week 2013 as a complement to incredible fashion.

Her aim is to design one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry that are functional, but beyond that, to contrive pieces that enhance the beauty and true elegance of each person wearing her designs. And if you happen upon her Facebook reviews... it sounds like she's achieved it.

Learn more about Ashleigh and check out her stunning collection at  http://www.ashleighambermoorejewelry.com/ .

Learn more about Ashleigh and check out her stunning collection at http://www.ashleighambermoorejewelry.com/.

Featured Artist: Manny Blair

"Bramasole" Acrylic and enamel on printed fabric; 150x130cm

"Bramasole" Acrylic and enamel on printed fabric; 150x130cm


"Dystopia" Acrylic and enamel on plywood panel; 115x80cm

"Dystopia" Acrylic and enamel on plywood panel; 115x80cm


"Two Farmers" Acrylic on plywood panel; 60x40cm

"Two Farmers" Acrylic on plywood panel; 60x40cm

Manny Blair was born in 1971 in the north west coastal resort of Blackpool, UK. He grew up in a house full of books which instilled an early appreciation of creative thinking.

After school he attended Blackpool & the Fylde College studying art and design. He acknowledges this, with hind-sight, as the most important part of his art education. He enrolled at Cyprus College of Art, where he exhibited in a private gallery for the first time and received a favourable critique of his work in a national newspaper.

On his return to the UK, he embarked on his Fine Art degree at Sunderland University where he studied alongside Richard Billingham. Not having banished his wonderlust, Manny took advantage of of an exchange program and spent his second year at East Carolina University, NC.

After graduation, he joined the workforce and was producing very little art. Marriage and fatherhood jolted him back on track and, after eighteen months of consideration, returned to his studies at Manchester Metropolitan University in the Landscape Architecture program. Immediately after obtaining his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree, he decided to combine his art and design degrees with a Masters degree in Public Art. It was here he studied under Jason Minsky who taught him a level of professionalism and rigour in art that he had not previously experienced. Mannyowes Jason a huge debt of gratitude.        

New opportunities presented themselves in 2008 when he had a job offer as a Landscape Architect in Calgary, Canada. Six months apart from his wife and two young sons enabled tentative roots to be put down in Alberta, where he and his family now live in De Winton, AB.

In 2013 during a severe episode of depression, Manny was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD). For Manny, this was life changing. It meant he could start to understand what and why things happened and far from being ‘disorders’, he now regards them as “…..bloody super-powers!”. 

It was then that he started to understand why his art was so haphazard, not only in subject matter and themes, but media, influences and technique.

Unsurprisingly, his creative influences are many and disjointed. They include art world behemoths such as Francisco Goya, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Bacon; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Richard Neutra in architecture; Johann Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Datsyuk in team sports, to George Orwell, Joy Division and Chuck Yeager.


Check out more of Manny's stunning art at http://www.mannyblair.com/.

Featured Artist: Dana Pugh

Dana Pugh Photography is an award winning and internationally acclaimed child and family photographer living in southern Alberta. Dana's work has been featured on billboards in NY's Time Square, on Shaw TV, local magazines and in people's homes across North America.

We are so honoured to feature such a decorated artist, and are incredibly proud that she calls Okotoks home. 

I remember the day my son was born. 

The day that I officially became a mom. It was not an easy labour...in fact, my friends and family would tell you that it was legendary in it's length. But, after all that time, the sun poured into my room to welcome the day would change me for good. Being a mom is a huge part of who I am, not just as a person, but as a photographer. I am drawn to photographs that not only show me what you look like, but help to illustrate the people you are in this moment. When I am welcomed into your home, I photograph your family as I would want to remember it if it were my own.

I am not interested in perfection. 

I think, in fact, that the imperfect moments, the slightly off parts of our life are the things that make us unique and should be celebrated. I see the beauty amongst the chaos and feel like it is my job to show you just how beautiful the connection that your family shares looks to me. For my unique perspective, I have been awarded many titles and speaking engagements (a few are listed below), but my proudest accomplishments are the photographs on my client's walls across North America. 

My children are now getting older--my son, Jack, is 13 years old. My daughter, Georgia (lovingly referred to as G), is 11. Together we love to travel--mostly so we can snorkel and visit museums. My husband, Bob, has gifted them with an extreme love of science. So, there are often discussions about who is cooler--Bill Nye or Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I bring a love of the arts into the mix, so there are also many discussions about films and books(and musicals--I am a not so secretly huge fan of a broadway showtunes). We have recently added our dog Chewbacca Pugh. He is also known as the #worldsmostpatientdog I wanted to name him Thor, but Star Wars love won out. Together, we call ourselves Pughville and we would love it if you would follow along with our antics on instagram.

This year, I would love to work with more nonprofit organizations--so, if you know of one that would be a good fit with me, please connect us. I also built a gorgeous natural light studio where I am enjoying creating modern and fresh imagery. That doesn't mean that I don't want to come visit you in your home. That will always be where my heart is...where I began. Please, email me if you love the images you see and I can tell you about how we could create these sorts of images for your family.

~ Dana

To check out a list of Dana's impressive awards, direct your attention  here.

To check out a list of Dana's impressive awards, direct your attention here.

More of Dana's work below

Featured Artist: Julie Robertson (Thibodeau)

“I hear you,” Kaidan said, feeling she’d heard him. “It just seems that a group that’s been around as long as the Council should see this coming. It’s funny, we finally get out of here and the Final Frontier had already been settled and the residents don’t even seem impressed by the view. Or the dangers.” Taryne smiled. Interesting, she thought absently. “Well, well. You’re a romantic. Did you sign on for the dream Alenko?”
— From "Dragon's teeth: Mass Effect 1" by RavenCall70 on Wattpad

As a resident of Okotoks for more than 30 years, Julie has spent much of her adult life taking photographs in and around the Okotoks area. After graduating Foothills Composite High School with honours, she attended SAIT and Mount Royal College, where she studied art, art history, philosophy and journalism.

Her experience in art and design led her to create business cards for local businesses, starting with her dad's automotive repair shop before moving on to create brochures and cards for her own use, as well as posters and calendars for local businesses. In 2003 she became a regular column contributor for a local paper before attending classes through Okotoks Continuing Education where she earned her Masters licence in Reiki and Munay-Ki Shamanism. In recent years, she has published several photojournalism articles for Okotoks Living Magazine.

In her volunteer hours, Julie has taken hundreds of photographs for the Okotoks Arts Council. Her photography has been in the Town of Okotoks Calendar and used by the Okotoks Family Resource Centre during the town's annual Teddy Bear Picnic. Julie has also been a regular volunteer for the town's annual Girl's Night Out event where she gives free tarot card readings.

Over the past year, she has indulged her passion for her favourite video game by writing several fan fiction books that are based on the Mass Effect video game trilogy. She is currently hard at work writing the third book in her series.

In her free time, Julie enjoys playing role-play based video games, reading and going for coffee. When not playing story-based games or reading fiction, she enjoys binge-watching Netflix episodes of Supernatural, X-Files and horror movies, researching any subject that catches her interest or attending town events like the Okotoks Show 'n Shine Car Rally or the November Light Up event.

You can check out Julie's written work for free by visiting Wattpad and following her under the username @RavenCall70. Or you can visit her blog at ravencallsreflections.wordpress.com, or follow her on Twitter: @RavenCall.

Featured Artist: Wes Beiko

While Wes Beiko has no formal training in media production, he is quite an accomplished producer. Wes graduated from the Foothills Composite High School in 2014 and has gone on to work on various projects including:

  • Director of Photography, Editor, Sound Mixer on "The Owen Hart Foundation: A Look Back", which was an official Selection at the Monaco International Film Festival 2014 and Won 4 Awards (Best Short Documentary, Best Short Documentary Director, The Humanitarian Angel Film Award, Best Film Editing Short Documentary). 
  • Director of Photography, Editor, Sound Mixer an Official Selection at the Calgary Entertainment & Comic Expo 2016 & Official Selection Fan Boy Film Festival

Wes is also a winner of the Zooom Student Film Festival and took part in the Skills Alberta 2014 Regionals TV/Video Production and won the Regionals Safety Award. He is skilled in all forms of media production, writing scripts, business, marketing, video editing/shooting, acting, directing, photography and web design. 

Currently, Wes is working with Samm Smith who auditioned for this season of "The Voice" on NBC, and is working on a few feature film scripts. He is also in a production of a mental health documentary that has been in the works since 2015. At this time, the project is in need of more funding. You can find out more here: http://gofund.me/mentaldoc.

Wes's non-artistic hobbies include Mixed Martial Arts, weight lifting, writing poetry, and exploring nature through hiking and Urban Exploration (URBEX).

Learn more about Wes's work at www.528evenings.com, or check him out on social media:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wesbeiko
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WesBeiko
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WesBeiko
Snapchat: WesBeiko



Featured Artist: Shawna Koski

Shawna has been animating ever since she learned that it was possible to make objects come to life. She spent her childhood creating films filled with special effects and stop motion animation, and had a fantastic time creating different worlds. Shawna attended school at CalArts, which is an art school close to Hollywood that specializes in
animation. There, she learned many valuable skills and received firsthand experience on a
variety of animation sets. Now, Shawna works as a freelancer and earns funds
through grant applications for films she hopes to send to festivals. She will also also be heading up the ZOOOM Film Festival in Okotoks this year, which is a festival celebrating the
film making talents of local youth in the community. On top of that, she will be offering
animation classes for kids this coming fall in the hopes of cultivating interest in this
fun and expressive art form.

Shawna love all types of animation, but specializes in wire armature puppet animation, a style similar to what is used in films such as "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Coraline".  She begins with building the sets, puppets and props and experimenting with lighting and framing. She then takes 12 pictures to create 1 second of finished footage, moving a puppet a small amount for every picture to create the illusion of movement.

Shawna's latest project, "A Lonely Entertainer”, is about an entertainer who no longer has a venue to perform in. Since performing is so much of who he is, he must do it even if he has no audience.

Besides animation, Shawna loves watching Buster Keaton silent films, drinking chai tea
lattes, looking at autumn leaves, meditating, swimming and collecting pumpkin

You can learn more about Shawna and see her work at www.shawnakoski.com.

Featured Artist: Katie Fournell

As a newcomer to Okotoks, Katie Fournell knew she had to take action to bring more film and theatre presence to the Town. Inspired by the festival scene in Edmonton, the Okotoks Film Festival took shape as a three-day event, offering programming for all ages and will feature film screenings, workshops and galas. The first annual Okotoks Film Festival will take place in 2017, and as Festival Director, Katie plans for the event to grow into a destination for international films.

Katie has her Film & Theatre degree from Red Deer College and a Certificate in Event Planning. She has worked on various projects in prop and set design, production, acting and directing. When Katie isn’t working with the camera, she enjoys yoga, camping, running, cooking, and video and board games.

Find out more about the Okotoks Film Festival at http://www.okotoksfilmfestival.ca.