Meet the 2014 AIRdirondack Artists


Amanda Tozser

Amanda Tozser graduated from the University of Saskatchewan and moved to Calgary in 1994. She is now the proud owner of Amandamazing Art and Face Painting specializing in advanced theatrical makeup and is one of Canada’s only artists who specializes in body art camouflage. Amanda also teaches art classes.

 Along with being a talented artist and intelligent business owner, she is also a mother to four girls.

Amanda says the design concept for her chair for the 2014 AIRdirondack actually came from her clients. She has found inspiration in photo shoots, body art, murals and portraits. The theme for her chair will be Mexican Day of the Dead. Sugar skulls and gothic skulls are popular artistic images, and Amanda is excited to be able to incorporate them into her piece.

Brenna Miller

Brenna Miller graduated in 2012 from the University of Lethbridge with a degree in fine arts. During her time at school she was able to experience a variety of artistic mediums including acrylics, pencil crayon, paper collage and wood sculpture. These days, she likes to paint large pieces and keeps her brush strokes lively and loose. In contrast, her drawings are much more precise and detailed.

Brenna was married soon after she finished school, and she is now a mom to twin girls.

She is constantly making art, and her fondness for cartoons and animation has influenced what she creates. She enjoys color and a divergence from reality. Brenna has also admitted that she loves fan art and considers it somewhat of a guilty pleasure.

Brenna is someone who finds wonder in all that surrounds her, and she says this wonder inspires her to create. Her chair design for this year will focus on blue jays with a Haida influenced style.

Char Vanderhorst

Char Vanderhorst is a professional painter, sculptor, ceramicist, leaf stone tiler and muralist. She was born in Winnipeg and graduated from the University of Manitoba’s fine arts program. She is currently teaching private art lessons, group classes at the Airdrie Over 50’s Club and is the publicity person for the Airdrie Artist Guild.

Char has had past experience teaching art classes with The Winnipeg Arts and Recreation Department, The Airdrie Adult Education Department, The Calgary School of Hope and The Calgary Montessori School. She was also the publicity person for the Calgary Chapter of the CFA Canadian Federation of Artists and has worked for numerous annual art shows. Her work for the 2005 African Children’s Choir calendar was sold worldwide.

She enjoys painting nature and feels it helps her connect to the natural, sacred places she has visited. Her vision and passion for her art is to be able to paint images that portray international cultures and to communicate history and the beauty of ethnicity.

Char’s chair for the 2014 AIRdirondack art project will include birch trees in the

Dave Sharp

For the past 20 years, Dave Sharp has had experience painting almost everything he was able to get his hands on. He is a true self-taught artist who has developed his skill without any formal training. Now he is the premier artist of Fantom Airbrushing, and has received numerous awards for his work, including recognition in the House of Kolor Prestigious Painter program.

The two years Dave spent living in Europe were not only inspiration for his art, but it allowed him to begin creating a global clientele.

Dave also draws on inspiration from different artists and styles, which has allowed him to create many types of artwork from classic to macabre.  For the 2014 AIRdirondack art project, he will be partnering with airbrush artist Paul Nye to turn a chair into a stone throne and a second one into an official Calgary Flames chair.

Jennifer Pyykonen

Jennifer Pyykonen is the heart and ‘antique’ soul behind Ava Blake creations. Through the use of Van Gough fossil paints, tiny brushes, and vintage graphics, Jennifer breathes new life into worn out furniture pieces. Nothing is off limits to this budding designer who creates anything from barn wood wall art to recreated antique bottles.

Jennifer’s daughter has had many medical issues from a very young age. After donating her kidney to her daughter, Jennifer learned that there is always a way to find an out-of-the-box solution to any problem.

Jennifer owns her own studio where she shares her expertise with others so they can create their own pieces. When Jennifer isn’t in her studio, she can be found flipping homes, and keeping up with her three kids, two dogs, and husband.

Jennifer will be creating a vintage perfume inspired chair for the 2014 AIRdirondack Gala.

Karen Pedersen

Karen Pedersen is a born and raised Calgarian who relocated to nearby Carstairs 10 years ago. The diverse backdrop of the Alberta and British Columbia landscapes inspires her paintings, which are primarily created using oil paints or watercolors.

Karen believes that art is an interpretation of what the eye sees. This belief can be seen in her expressive landscape paintings that go beyond the norm of realism. Karen has had the great fortune to study and paint with some of the great American artists over the years and continues to hone her craft by attending workshops, seminars, and classes.

Karen is a member of the Cochrane Art Club, Beaupre Artists Guild, Federation of Canadian Artists(FCA), Foothills Art Club, Leighton Art Centre, Riverview Artist group &  WAM ((Women’s Art Museum).

Karen will be creating a dragonfly inspired chair for the 2014 AIRdirondack Gala.

Karen Pennifold 

Karen Pennifold was born in southern Alberta in the Nanton, Cayley, and High River area. The Alberta landscape is the main inspiration for this self-taught artist, who primary works in graphite and acrylics.

Another inspiration that can be seen throughout Karen’s pieces is the influence of “The Group of Seven,” a group of Canadian landscape painters that believed that great Canadian art could be created through direct contact with nature.

Karen loves to embrace any opportunity she can to share her work, and be able to inspire others who appreciate Canadian Art Work. Karen will be creating a Maple Leaf inspired chair for the 2014 AIRdirondack Gala.

Paul Nye

Paul Nye is a 38-year-old local owner of Nye’s Touch Sign & Airbrush in Airdrie. Paul specializes in airbrushing and custom paint of motorcycles, headgear, guitars and metal art, as well as decals and signs. Always up for a challenge, Paul prefers to work on curved canvases, which prove more difficult and intricate than a traditional flat canvas.

As a former oil-patch worker, Paul has found his niche in customizing motorcycles, hard hats and headgear. Paul has also found enjoyment in painting up guitars as in his spare time Paul can be found shredding a few licks.

You can see Paul’s creations out and about Airdrie on motorcycles, in construction sites, or the occasional car hood rolling down the street.

Paul will be airbrushing the feature Calgary Flames chair, complete with player’s signatures, for the 2014 AIRdirondack Gala. Paul will also be collaborating on a stone throne with Dave Sharp.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn Cooper moved to Airdrie in 1989 with her husband, Howard, and her three children. She studied the arts for three years at John Abbott College in Quebec and was told that she had the painting technique of a house painter.

She then focused her studies towards being a potter, and graduated with honours as a ceramic technologist. After having started her family, Robyn took to painting murals in the Royal Canadian Legion in Airdrie.

As a busy mother with responsibilities of her family and work, her artwork took the sidelines for several years. Her passions were reawakened when the main street art project in Airdrie was announced, and she helped create an art board with a local club in Airdrie. This sparked her new passion for painting, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Robyn loves to paint floral portraits and images of nature. She enjoys creating the colours and textures every person can find in their own back yard.

Robyn is very excited to have been asked to participate again in this year’s AIRdirondack art project and creating a floral-focused chair.

Shawnee Hoffman

Shawnee Hoffman is a wife and a mother of two children, who moved to Alberta 13 years ago from Saskatchewan. Her family has been living in Airdrie for five years and she owns and operates Artsy Fartsy Faces Body Art & More. The passionate entrepreneur absolutely loves going to work, where she offers body painting, murals and more.

The self-taught artist has been drawing since she could hold a pencil in her hand and has always created arts projects for family and friends. Shawnee also loves to paint and create repurposed works.

Shawnee is taking on some exciting new projects, and will be the storyboard artist and makeup artist for an upcoming movie. She is also continuing her work as Magic Mountain’s muralist.

Shawnee will be working with visiting students from Gwacheon South Korea to create her chair utilizing old maps of Airdrie. This is her second year in a row at the AIRdirondack gala.

Tracy Laxten

Born and raised in Abbey, Saskatchewan, Tracy Laxten and her husband newly moved to Airdrie in 2013 with their children.

The self-taught artist has never had any professional training, and prides herself on her different talents. Tracy is excited to see the arts community in Airdrie is abundant and is flourishing. She’s excited to contribute towards the arts community now that she is settling into her new home. Tracy enjoys creating art by using charcoal, wood-burning, acrylic painting and by simply using ink.

Her inspiration for her art pieces comes from nature and her compassion for animals. Terry enjoys paining dragons and colourful cherry trees. She is looking forward to translating her passions onto her adirondack chair. Tracy is honoured to have been chosen to show off her talent at this year’s gala.

Zach Abbott 

Zach Abbott is a well-known street artist, who has graced his talents around the Airdrie community. His art can be spotted at the Miller Mural, the Airdrie Boys & Girls Club as well as at the Miller Street Art Gallery.

Zach teaches youth how to use aerosol paints. He also owns Make Believe Fantasy Textiles, designing silk screen works and stencils. His abstract work with aerosol paints has made Zach a well-known local artist.

This will be Zach’s second year displaying his adirondack chair at the gala, and is excited to bring something new to the table. His chair will “fully embrace backyard lifestyles and that will be richly decorated with organic curves of a new-age composure”.!studio/ci3u
























2014 AIRdirondack Artists Announced

The Creative Airdrie Society and Qualico Communities are pleased to announce the selection of artists for the 5th annual Ravenswood AIRdirondack Art Project.

This year 23 unique designs were submitted and from this group 12 have been selected to provide their talents to create original works of art on chairs designed and built by the Bert Church High School Industrial Arts Program.

The successful artists are from Airdrie, Carstairs and Calgary and in no particular order include: Paul Nye, David Sharp, Amanda Tozser, Brenna Miller, Char Vanderhorst, Jenny Pyykonen, Karen Pedersen, Robyn Cooper, Shawnee Hoffman, Tracy Laxten, Karen Pennifold and Zach Abbott.

“The quality and variety of this year’s submissions were extremely impressive. We are so fortunate to have such a talented community of committed artists who step up to share their gifts with the community,” says co-coordinator and original 2010 chair artist Veronica Funk.  “Our biggest challenge was narrowing down the final selections, so we are extremely grateful for the gallery directors and other committee members who share their valuable time and experience in order to make the experience the best it can be.  We’re very excited to unveil the completed pieces in and around the city this year.”

The artists will receive their chairs and paint supplies in the coming weeks. The finished chairs will be revealed June 21 during the Empty Bowls Festival in Nose Creek Park.

“We are again lucky to partner with the groups within our community who make this project a success every year.  A big thank you to the teachers and students of the Bert Church High School shop class and everyone at Fulton’s Home Building Center,” says co-coordinator Sheri Reed.  “They provided us with the materials and their time to create beautiful chairs for our selected artists to work on.  Everyone is anxiously awaiting the delivery of the chairs to get started.”

One chair however, will not be complete until July. Artist Shawnee Hoffman will be working with visiting South Korean exchange students during the month of June on her design incorporating the maps of Airdrie and our sister city Gwacheon South Korea.

The selected artists represent an excellent cross section of design styles including nature, abstract, antiques, medieval, Haida culture, Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and even the Calgary Flames. CAS received approval from the Flames organization to use official insignia in a design that includes player autographs.

Each chair will definitely have a “wow” factor,” says Creative Airdrie Communications Director Sherry Shaw-Froggatt. “We anticipate a very strong bidding frenzy during the Gala Sept 20 at McArthurs Fine Furniture in Airdrie.” Money raised from the sale of the chairs goes to Creative Airdrie for their ongoing development of arts and culture projects in the city including the 4th annual ARTember festival.

“This is our fifth year supporting the project and we are once again proud to support the AIRdirondack Art Project,” says Iona Sentes, Qualico Communities, Community Customer Relations Coordinator. :We are committed to supporting programs and events that showcase the spirit and creativity that helps strengthen communities and the 2014 AIRdirondack Art Project does just that.”

For more information please contact:

Creative Airdrie Society: Sherry Shaw-Froggatt

AIRdirondack Art Project Coordinator: Sheri Reed

Qualico Communities: Iona Sentes


2014 AIRdirondack Art Project Call for Submissions





Artists from the Airdrie area are invited to submit design concepts for the 2014 AIRdirondack Art Project.


Creative Airdrie (CAS), the organizing body behind the project, is looking for ten chairs to auction at the 5th annual Gala in September. All submissions will be juried by out-of-market arts experts, members of the project committee, and Qualico, the event’s major sponsor since its inception in 2010.

“The outstanding results, both in the caliber of the chairs presented and the final bidding numbers, showed us we were right to go to a juried process and we will be continuing with this process for 2014,” says Veronica Funk one of the project leads.

Selected artists will receive a chair designed and assembled by the Industrial Arts Program at Bert Church High School.

The deadline to submit a proposal is January 30 and the full info package is here or by emailing

Artists will receive a $100 honorarium and two tickets to the gala evening which takes place September 20, 2014 during ARTember celebrations.


For more information please contact:

AIRdirondack Project Coordinator Veronica Funk

Creative Airdrie Society Vice Chair/Communications Sherry Shaw-Froggatt


New Mural Project in Airdrie



Airdrie is going to get a little more colourful thanks to Airdrie Pharmasave. Owners Denise and Gary Melrose are partnering with Creative Airdrie to contract an area artist to create an original work of art more than 60 linear feet on the north side of the Pharmasave building on Centre Street.

The wall space is huge and has great potential says Creative Airdrie Communications Chair Sherry Shaw-Froggatt. “The Miller Mural has proved so popular and we were looking around the city for more “blank canvases” and the Pharmasave location is perfect, especially now that the road is open across the tracks and connects the west side of Airdrie to downtown with a new link.”

Denise Melrose is looking forward to seeing the proposals from area artists. “I like what’s happening in our city with the arts – we are showcasing more talent through events and venues and we want to be a part of making that happen.”

“It’s very encouraging to see Airdrie businesses get more involved in promoting art in public places, especially in the downtown core. says Kent Rupert, Airdrie Economic Development Team leader. “It adds to the vibrancy of the community and can assist in showcasing what Airdrie is all about – that being a creative and vibrant City”.


Artists are asked to submit a proposal complete with a design concept to no later than Oct 15, 2013. Airdrie Pharmasave and Creative Airdrie will select the final proposal and award the mural contract Oct 30, 2013. Applications will be evaluated on quality of past work, artistic merit of proposed design, qualifications, and ability to execute the project.

The successful applicant will receive $2000 to cover materials and labour. It is expected the work will be ready to unveil in the summer of 2014.

For complete submission information please click here




Sept 12, 2013      call for submissions

Oct 15, 2013        deadline for submissions

Oct 30, 2013        artist selected

June 30, 2014      deadline for art to be completed (considerations for weather provided)


Submit your proposals to




For more information:

Sherry Shaw-Froggatt Creative Airdrie Society 403.807.1272