We're in for a real treat this weekend.

On May 27 and 28, over 20 artists will be capturing the incredible vistas of the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, and we're invited to watch their creative processes, free of charge.

The Route 22 Artist Collective Gallery, in partnership with the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, is hosting the first in a series of Come Paint Alberta art festivals across Southern Alberta. The artists will be painting "en plein air" (open air) throughout the park.

"I think it's going to be great and the weather is perfect to make it an attractive weekend for everyone," says Lara Kruger, executive director of Route 22. "We'd love to see as many folks as possible coming out to enjoy this free public event."

There's also a convenient free-of-charge shuttle service being provided by the town's transit service, COLT, with pickup and drop-off points at Route 22, in the strip mall adjacent to Safeway on 5th Ave., and The Station, 360 Railway St W,

The shuttle service will be running regularly between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to around noon on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, an outdoor wrap-up party with live music begins at noon near the Route 22 gallery. A live auction of the art created begins at 2 p.m., led by two professional auctioneers.

Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers will bless the event both mornings at 9:45 a.m. and will be available to share their perspectives on the land and their connection with it.

Kruger says they also welcome the participation of the Wazin Îchinabi - Ti, Îethka Nakoda (House of Oneness), Cochrane’s new Indigenous centre. They will be raising their tipi at Glenbow Ranch for the weekend.

"We hope to build this relationship with our Indigenous communities over the next few years across the whole circuit. We welcome their participation because this is a land-based festival, and it makes a lot of sense to be working together."

Besides the free public event, there are also ticketed art and interpretative programs being offered. More details can be found on the websites of both Route 22 and Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation.

The art festival is building on the success of last year's inaugural Art in the Park. What is new is the collaboration with other art galleries to present similar festivals under the umbrella of Come Paint Alberta, an artist-led project promoting plein air painting.

Future festivals are being hosted throughout the summer and into September by Leighton Art Centre, Rosebud Art Collective, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, and Coutts Centre for Western Heritage.

"It's been a great collaboration because you can learn from each other and see what works for other groups," says Kruger. "It seems to be something that has been growing in popularity over the last few years, and there are other circuits like this that happen in Atlantic Canada and different parts of the world. They're quite popular with the public and the artists, too."

She says they appreciate the support received from Cochrane Tourism, Town of Cochrane, COLT, and Fortis Alberta for the art festival.

To discover more about this event and to learn about our good fortune of having the Route 22 gallery in town, click here.

You can learn more about the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation here.

Route 22 Collective Gallery, 312 Fifth Ave #18, is a non-profit artist-run gallery founded in 2020. The gallery features a diverse collection of artwork by more than 50 local artists and hosts a variety of arts programming, public events, and workshops throughout the year.