December 5, 2020

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Canmore artist Jason Carter pushes boundaries in art and business

4 min read
Carter poses with a painting he is working on after finishing the details on the...
Carter poses with a painting he is working on after finishing the details on the moon. PHOTO: EMMA BOYNE

When traveling through Canmore, it is easy to see why people love the outdoors. Jason Carter has managed to capture that beauty in the Carter-Ryan Gallery, his own personal business. 

Carter is recognized for his unique and simplistic art style. Despite some early complications with opening his own business, he’s become a well-celebrated artist. 

“The opportunity presented itself, I just had done a big piece of public art in Edmonton at the Edmonton International Airport and it felt like it was time,” he says.

Carter’s art captures Canmore’s scenery through the use of smooth stone and canvas. Carter creates each piece with intention,  making his mission to stand out from others around him and bring joy into his customer’s lives. 

“Luckily, I’m in Canmore and Banff and so there is a lot of natural world that’s beautiful around me which is what then inspires my work,” says Carter, in a spring interview.

His pieces incorporate bold colours, often with clear blues or bright reds, with emerald greens and sunflower yellows. His designs are more simplistic in nature, as his lines are intentional, with a careful eye for precision and accuracy. 

Jason Carter focusing as he completes a piece of a painting in his studio. PHOTO: EMMA BOYNE

Sarah McPherson is a regular customer of Carter’s paintings. Her attraction to his art led her to buying a piece for herself.

“I like that for the most part they’re landscape, but oftentimes there’s kind of a whimsical component to his pieces,” says McPherson. “And then I also just think the way that he paints and the colour choices that he has just kind of evokes some happiness.”

Along with the paintings, McPherson enjoys the beauty of Carter’s sculptures, saying that their simplicity is a different thread throughout. 

“The way that he uses the different types of rock and how he incorporates that into the pieces is just very interesting,” she says. 

But it is not just the work that attracted McPherson, as the Carter-Ryan Gallery welcomed her with open arms. 

“Meeting Jason and Bridget, they’re just such great people that it makes me want to support them,” said McPherson. “It’s not that often that you get to interact so closely with an artist in their gallery on quite a regular basis, so he has a way of really kind of making his art more personal.” 

Carter and his partner Bridget Ryan opened the Carter-Ryan Gallery in 2011 in Canmore. Together, they created a business to sell Carter’s work the culmination of years of dreaming. 

Carter says finding customers was hard, however, the initial opening was what really shocked them. 

“The challenge for us was that we didn’t really have any business background when we opened,” he says. “And so it was a constant learning curve and learning to deal with items as they presented themselves.”

 “Keep doing what you’re doing, work hard, pursue your dreams, and everything can work out great.” 

Jason Carter

People didn’t believe the pair would last in the industry. Despite the challenges, Ryan says that it was the doubters that made them push forward. 

“Anytime you commit yourself on this large scale, there’s a level of skepticism there,” says Ryan. 

On their five year anniversary, the pair were given cards, saying “We didn’t think you’d make it past six months.” 

“We kept those cards because they keep us going,” Ryan says. 

Ryan says the opportunity to run a business opened the pair’s eyes, as they continue to be thankful for the experience everyday.

“Now, we just kind of negotiate every risk or every opening or closing of a business or a venture as: is it going to be a good story to tell somebody?” she says. “No matter if it goes well or poorly, will we be remiss in not doing it if we don’t have that story to tell?” 

Jason Carter working on a Bison sculpture for one of his clients. PHOTO: EMMA BOYNE.

Carter’s talent has been requested by several organizations, such as the Art Gallery of Alberta, Canada Council for the Arts, Works International Visual Arts Society, Government of Canada, and most recently, the Calgary International Airport. 

Carter’s work at the airport combines to be a total of 45 canvases. Travellers walking back from the international terminal can spot one of his paintings when entering immigration services.

“To be selected as one of the four artists that represent the area of Calgary and surrounding area was phenomenal,” Carter says. “It was an opportunity for me to showcase the mountains and my work to a global audience of three to five million people every year walking by and seeing the work.” 

Carter has also released children’s books. One of his works, “Who is Boo”, is about a rabbit who competes against his brother in a race around the world. He says it is a passion project, and hopes to continue it on in the upcoming years. 

“We were just in talks about working on Who is Boo Four and then potentially working on other spinoffs from that series,” he says,

Carter has much to look forward to, as he continues to push the boundaries for small businesses, and local artists. On his journey forward, Carter says that he will never give up and hopes that other artists will do the same. 

“Keep doing what you’re doing, work hard, pursue your dreams, and everything can work out great.”