The Town of Okotoks has revealed which three community members are to be painted by the Sheep River Artist in Residence.

Over the summer, residents nominated 13 individuals who have had an impact on the community, with three to be selected to have portraits painted by Tanya Zakarow, the town’s first Sheep River Artist in Residence.

Over 1,500 were cast and a committee selected which three people would be painted.

The Town of Okotoks provided a writeup on all three individuals:

Ron Schreiber - Ron Schreiber was the Chairman of the board of Trustees for Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools and a longtime resident of Okotoks before passing away in the fall of 2021. He was a dedicated musician who was part of the St. James Catholic Church choir and gave his time to help elevate the music at the church through his skilled singing and guitar playing.

Lori Chibry - Lori Chibry stands as another remarkable nominee. Through her many years working as a Kindergarten teacher at Big Rock School, she’s had a lasting impact on the Okotoks community. After a fight with cancer, Lori passed away unexpectedly in November 2022. She will always be remembered for loving all children equally and with all her heart.

Marg Cox – Marg Cox is well known in Okotoks and has been playing major roles in the community for over three decades. She was recognized for her years of dedication to almost every aspect of Okotoks life. From fostering community pride by volunteering at sporting events to going above and beyond as a Town of Okotoks Events Specialist. She was inducted into the Okotoks Hall of Fame in 2017 as a Community Builder in the Community Service area.

In addition, Mayor Tanya Thorn is to be painted.

Zakarow will be completing the portraits throughout the rest of September, and those interested in seeing her process are invited to pay her a visit.

She’ll be working out of the Okotoks Art Gallery from Monday to Friday until September 15.

After that, she’ll be working in a space in the Okotoks Public Library until the end of the month.

Portraiture is actually what led to Zakarow being selected as the Sheep River Artists in Residence, as a portrait of former Mayor Bill Robertson was what she submitted to the town.

“When I first heard about this opportunity, I was thinking about it and talking to my mom about it. I was telling her ‘It’d be so cool to honour people in our community.’ Automatically, the first person that came to mind was Bill. He gave so much and invested so much in our community, and I think it created this spirit when he was the mayor, that has carried on even after through passing. I think it’s really important to honour those people and recognize the effort that they put in and how influential they’ve been in other people's lives. I don’t think we should ever lose that.”

tanya zakarow mayor bill portraitTanya Zakarow holding her protrait of former Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Okotoks)

For Zakarow, the process of creating these portraits is about more than just capturing a person’s likeness.

“When you’re doing a portrait, you’re not just doing the person, I’m putting myself in there as well. Sometimes it’s hard to get an exact replica because there’s part of me in there. I try to capture the soul of the person. It’s like really trying to capture who they are and what shines out of their eyes.”

While the prospect of creating her art in public is a new one for Zakarow, she’s excited to share the experience with the community.

She says anyone and everyone is welcome to come and take a look.

“No rules, come visit! Well, the only rule is to bring me black coffee... just joking.”


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