A mere six months after a devastating fire, the Wild West Gallery has reopened in its new location in the Wetaskiwin Mall. Elders from nearby Maskwacis (formerly Hobbema) performed a smudging ceremony to bless the revived business.
Owner and trader Perry Bartoshyk is understandably happy that the Gallery is open again. “It feels good,” he says. “The only down part is I’m missing all my vintage stuff; the beadwork from the 1950s, art and silver mounted tack—it’s irreplaceable.”
With a lot of hard work, they were able to open the Wild West in time for the powwow season. Not only does the Gallery sell handcrafted Native beadwork, art, headgear, saddle accessories, handicrafts and Western furniture, but they also stock a wealth of feathers and many sizes of colour-coded beads, instrumental in the creation of traditional clothing and powwow regalia.
“I’ve got three times the amount of beads than I had at the last gallery,” says Perry. “The beaders all look for certain colour shades so they’re pleased with the selection and at a very good price, so they’re grateful for that too. Often they bring in some of their work and if they decide to let it go, we barter.” he says.
Perry is an experienced collector with a keen eye for detail and craftsmanship. “All the merchandise here is one of a kind and each is a piece of artwork,” he says. “The beadwork is mainly Canadian, with some from the States. It’s all authentic, and we take pride in that.”
If you want to try your hand at the ancient art, Perry himself is a wealth of information. “I had some ladies come down from Edmonton; we talked for quite a while about the types of beads used for different projects, needles and the types of threads to use. They complimented me on the assistance I gave them. They said they don’t get that in other stores.”
In 2016, the Wild West Gallery plans to resume bringing wares to select shows such as the Ponoka Stampede and the Mane Event. For more, visit wildwestgallery.ca.