Painted Windows an alternative take on Stampede window art

Walking exhibition through inner-city neighbourhoods helps build community and raise the profiles of local artists and businesses.

It’s coming up to that time of year – Stampede. The 10 days of the year where Alberta heritage is celebrated, sometimes authentically, and sometimes you see horses dressed in overalls painted on shop windows.

This is where the Buds of Buds Collective steps in — their Painted Windows project fully embraces seasonal window painting, but with a more curated, art-centric approach. Katie Pearce of the Buds of Buds Collective wants Painted Windows to present an alternative look at Alberta heritage and has put a lot of time and energy into doing just that.

She spoke with theYYSCENE about this exciting project taking place in the neighbourhoods of East Village, Victoria Park and Bridgeland/Riverside.

Q: Where did the idea for this project come from?

A: We’ve always had a tradition of painting windows for Stampede here, so that’s where we were going with that. It’s an idea that already exists in other cities … so it’s a borrowed idea, but we developed it. We talked about how we would develop it so that we are supporting local artists and supporting local businesses. We are offering a free urban art gallery, which you don’t have to pay admission for, and we’re building on Stampede culture, Alberta heritage, and connecting communities. (We are) developing a community culture where people are meeting one another and where it’s an exciting event to go out and meet artists, meet business owners and learn about our great local neighbourhoods and culture that we do have here in Calgary.

Building local and art culture isn’t possible without the arts. As a community, in order to be vibrant you need arts infusion to make it possible. Every time you are investing in art you are helping to build something.

Q: Will all of the windows have a Stampede-theme?

A: We see it as expanding upon the Stampede culture and incorporating a more contemporary version of that culture. There is somewhat of a critique of the cartooniness of the painted windows that we’ve seen (in the past), and how they can be improved, how they can be artistic, more authentic, less commercial. Some of the actual imagery and the western heritage aspects, we still like it and we still want the artists to do some of that. (We want) to leave it up to the artists and see how awesome some of their Stampede ideas can be.

I think that there’s a consistency in the theme and it is about celebrating being Albertan, which I think is one of the biggest points that the Stampede looks to do and it’s part of our culture and our heritage and tradition, and we are celebrating that by pulling something contemporary into it.

Q: The neighbourhoods included are all bordering the Stampede Grounds – they are so close, it’s a great idea to try to bring them together.

A: So far there’s a nice alignment (of participating businesses) for a walking tour where you can walk for four to five minutes, go to one of the businesses, walk again to another business and also take a tour of those businesses.

It’s very walkable. We might leave it open-ended or we might add a recommended walking path to the map. We have a lot of destinations going through East Village, and then you connect up and can walk over the Reconciliation Bridge (formerly the Langevin Bridge).

It would take a couple of hours to do the walk and to take the train back – you could do a little bit of Stampede and a little bit of window touring. I think you would expect to do a morning walk and an afternoon at the grounds.

There is an app for the project that is GPS enabled, so (a notification) will just pop up when you are close to a window. If you don’t want to do a full day of touring, you can download the app and when you’re out and about it will just pop up and remind you that there’s a window close for you to check out.

Unknown Object
Buds of Buds’ Painted Windows

Q: I see that there are prizes for the best window paintings.

A: There are three awards. There’s People’s Favourite and that’s voting by the general public. I really encourage people to go out and see all of the windows, pick their favourite and vote. We’re also doing Jury Selection, which is (comprised of) community members and professionals. There’s a landscape architect, artists — we made it a bit artist-heavy because it is the jury selection so we’re expecting that it will be more selected on the skill and talent of the artists. It helps frame the process so that we can talk to artists about what we would like to see out of their artwork and what the jury is looking for and that helps build consistency and quality of product.

We also have Celebrity’s Choice — our secret/not-so-secret celebrity is Chris Cran, and we might end up having a second celebrity.

Q: Are there plans to expand it if it goes well?

A: We’ll expand the zones to pick up Inglewood and more into downtown, into the core, 17th Ave area … we’re definitely going to expand the area a little bit more.

Q: As far as participating business go, how many more are you looking for?

A: Our count is always changing, but it’s approximately 13 more businesses that we’re looking for – we have a lot of artists available for the Painted Windows exhibition and we would like to place all of those artists, so we need more businesses to support them.

Q: How does a business participate? And how do you find an artist to match up to a business?

We have options for business owners for packages — we make it customizable. One that’s just basic so that they can get in, get on the map, get in the app, get their vinyl participation sticker, get their window painted and then we’ll post them on Instagram. Then we work up to the philanthropist package which is more expensive, but they get a lot more promotion on our end on social media. They also get their logo on the map, they get text about their business on the map, and they get to pick their artist, as opposed to the other packages where we assign artists.

Sometimes the different circumstances of the windows or the business owners lends itself to a particular artist. All of the artists already submitted all of their info and ideas, like Kelsey Fraser –hers needs to be placed very specifically where people will be able to come in from behind (her paintings), put their face in it and then they can take pictures. So we’re kind of looking for a good fit.

Painting starts June 15 and ends on June 30, so I’d like to schedule that between the artists and the business owners. Business owners also will have a pre-meeting with their artist to collaborate about their windows.

Businesses can email to participate, or visit our website at, where they can download the forms there and also look at the guide with all of the information.

Painted Windows will run throughout Stampede, with an awards ceremony celebrating the artists and businesses at the Molson Taproom on July 15 at 6 p.m. There are also plans to do a Painted Windows exhibition at Christmas.

Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her website, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at