Cochrane, Alberta might not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about internationally-recognized art. But Christopher Talbot is well on his way to changing that.

The President and founder of Art Evolution, Talbot has recently opened a new gallery in the historic downtown. To mark the occasion, he’s hosting the first Vilem Zach exhibition in more than five years.

“I think Vilem is one of the best Canadian artists, maybe in the top two or three, who has created exclusively Western and Native American themed works,” says Talbot. “He’s celebrated all over the world, and he’s particularly known for his bronzes. But we also have a big collection of his bronzes and paintings – many of which have not seen.”

Zach, whose exhibit is running at Art Evolution Gallery on 208 1st St. W in Cochrane until December 11, is a member of the Calgary Stampede Hall of Fame, and his bronze-cast sculptures are presently displayed publicly at Banff Springs Hotel and Canada Olympic park, among other locations. Art Evolution’s is the largest Zach exhibition in the world.

Talbot says Cochrane is the ideal place for a Zach exhibit as its “at the heart” of North American Western Culture. “I mean, where else in Alberta do you throw a dart at the board and say, ‘Well, this is where Western Culture is?’ I think Cochrane and surrounding areas is it.”

Art Evolution is a global company, Art Evolution’s Salvador Dali exhibition in Australia is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Talbot operates art installations, galleries, and public art installations on three continents and his travels have provided Art Evolution with a stunning range of artworks much of which are now available through the Cochrane gallery.

Regarding our collection “General speaking, I want artworks from artists with a solid track record. There’s Dali, of course, but also the movie star Jane Seymour. A lot of people don’t know it, but she’s a very accomplished artist.”

Visitors to Art Evolution Gallery can also look forward to seeing the World’s largest collection of artworks by Olympic figure skating Icon and Order of Canada recipient Toller Cranston.

Talbot points out that while it’s normal for first-time visitors to perhaps feel intimidated when they enter an art gallery, Art Evolution is sensitive to making everyone feel welcome.

“Our company is about inclusion,” he says. “In fact, our mantra is ‘I-C-E,’ which means ‘Inspire Community Enrichment.’ The reaction of most people is just like, ‘Wow – I did not expect this in Cochrane!’”

It’s worth noting that Art Evolution is also liquidating and entire warehouse of high-quality artworks from around the World. “Whether you want to spend $200 or $50,000, we can accommodate any budget, style, colour and size,” says Talbot. “We have more than 3,000 works in our global inventory and a lot of that will be moved through the store in Cochrane, most of the artworks on sale are between 50 and 70% off.”

But he’s especially proud to bring an international-level gallery to the city.

“There’s nothing in the surrounding area, in fact there is very little in Canada that can compete with what we’re offering right here at Art Evolution,” he says. “While I live in Europe and Australia part of the year I’ve also lived in the Cochrane area for the past 23 years and I wanted to open a gallery here to do something very special for the people of Cochrane.”

Art Evolution’s Vilem Zach Exhibition & Sale is running now until Sunday, December 11. The Gallery is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11-5, Thursday from 11-7, Friday and Saturday from 11-5 and Sunday from 12-4. They can be reached by calling (403) 851-4544, and guests can view artworks on their website.