Saturday, October 30, 2010

Miguel Jose

This piece is a portrait of my son Miguel.
16 x 20 pastel sketch of Miguel

A while ago I had him pose for me in front of our den window so that I could get some cool light effects from the window. It started out as a pastel sketch but like always it turns out to be a little bit more.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Is your ability to create Art a gift? Or do you have to work at it to make it a talent??

Throughout the years I have gotten myself into a lot of little arguments over this issue.  When someone says they like my artwork. Of course I say " Thank you!" But then, when they say you have such a wonderful gift. I tend to be a little apprehensive because I feel a gift is something that is giving to you. A gift of God would be life itself. That's a gift. The gift of sight, hearing , feelings, etc...  To me, talent is something that I have to work hard at to perfect. To make it look easy in someone else eyes. Im sorry but I have to work hard to create my artwork and yes some aspect of my art comes easy. But it's all about the dedication it took to create that aspect easy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What is a " BLOG"

My daughter asked me what is a " Blog?"
This question came to be when I told her and her boyfriend that I created a blog page and that I was going to write in it. You see I started my own blog, Blog with Alberta Sport Artist Joe Versikaitis about two weeks ago. Here I will talk about Sport art, marketing, photography and yes a little bit of hockey.Yeah I know the name is a little long but what ever. I like it.
I thought a Blog would be kinda fun to create. It was so much fun that after I created my first blog page I created another blog page. This one I called Blog with my fellow Artist. In this blog page I want to encourage local artist to send me their works so that I can post it on my blog.  My madness behind this concept is that if I show case other artist work then hopefully they will return the favor by show casing my work on their blog. I'm just trying to create a artsy fartsy community. We'll see how it goes.
After all the reading and scrutinising of other blogs. I have come to the conclusion that this blogging business is really a place to write my diary about my life. I talk about my art work and how that particular  piece was created. I also bring in guest writers with marketing ideas and I try to promote a marketing guru by the name of Alyson Stanfield. Alyson has a great book called " I'd rather be in the studio ". For any of you artist out there that are interested in stepping into a career path as an artist then this book is a must.
 My stories about meeting hockey super stars like Teemu Selanne, Trevor Kidd and soon to come Theo Fleury and Sandy McCarthy is really the part of my art that keeps me going. If it wasn't for my dream to be an N.H.L. artist the reason for marketing and blogging would be none existence.
 So in saying all this. It seems that when people ask what is a blog. My response has to be this....
It's about writing what ever you want to write about, discussing a favorite topic with a person that you've never met before or in my case show casing mine other artist works. In all fairness Blogging to me is creating a community on a single web page where artist can come to visit...Simple!
Joe Versikaitis - Artist

The Guardian Project

Stan Lee - SLG Entertainment. Creators of Spider-man, The X Men, The Fantastic Four just to name a few. Along with the National Hockey League are joining forces to create The Guardian Project. In short, GME or the Guardian Media Entertainment group is going to vow hockey and comic book fans with Hockey Superheroes comic book, strips and movies.

" It's all about Marketing. The N.H.L. and Stan Lee are going to make a ton of money with this. The popularity of the game is going to grow beyond our imaginations. The kids and adult alike, that will read these comics will idolize their heroes on and off the ice.
Guarantee that when Halloween comes around there is going to be a lot more N.H.L. Superheroes coming to our doors for treats.
The 'Guardians' is going to be a marketing success which is going to help grow HOCKEY not only in the sunbelt regions but also world wide." Joe Versikaitis - Artist

Visit to watch a Trailer and for more info.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mr. Flash - This my story on how I came to know Teemu Selanne

Back in 1997, towards the end of the NHL season and just after the Anaheim Mighty Ducks finished playing the Calgary Flames. I was standing in front of the visiting team dressing at the Calgary Olympic Saddledome.  The concourse area in front of the player’s dressing rooms is an area about 15 feet wide but it circles the whole Saddledome. Basically this is the area where you see a lot of the TV interviews of the players as they walk off the ice surface.

I was introduced to Pierre Pagé by an acquaintance of mine Don Wilson. Don was an insurance broker in Brooks, Alberta and a huge hockey fan with Flames season tickets. Don and Pierre have been friends for many years prier to this night. Pierre was head coach of the then Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

 We had received the permission to go down and talk to Pierre Pagé. With Dons introduction, the meeting between Pierre and myself turned to why I was there. My answer was, I wanted to do artwork of one particular player on the Ducks team. That player was Teemu Selanne.

After the small chat we headed down this long hallway that lead to the visiting team dressing room.  I had with me my portfolio, which was at the time a photo album full of my artwork. Then I had another album with reference photos that I purchased from Bruce Bennett Studios. I believe there were 10 and each one was a different pose of Teemu. In my pocket I had my homemade business cards. I was ready, I must have looked like a retard but I was ready! And that’s how I started my art career. I just went and tried my hardest to get introduced to the right people who in turn would hopefully introduce me to the players themselves. If that didn’t work I would wait for the Samboni driver to open the over head door to the building and run in when he had his back to me....Just kidding!
We got to the door of the dressing room and Pierre Pagé turned to us to say  “Teemu just finished having a shower so I’m not sure what dressed condition he will be in. You might have to just look the other way for a couple of minutes Ok?”
As we walked into the dressing room Pierre Pagé turned again and said “ Oh he is still talking to the press. You’ll have to wait your turn. You can have a seat right over there.”  Pierre Pagé pointed to the locker stall that had the only clothes left in the dressing room. Those clothes belonged to Teemu.
As Don and I walked over to the stall I was mesmerized by what I was seeing. It was like I was watching a scene from a movie..
There in the middle of the dressing room was Teemu perched upon a bench so that he could over look all the cameras and reporters that were waiting to ask him questions about the great game that he just finish show casing. Don and I waited for what seem like 5 minutes but I’m sure it was more like an hour.
Finally the reporters and camera crews started to leave one by one. Then there was the last scene of Teemu standing upon the make shift podium, towel wrapped around him and still smiling for the cameras. It was a pretty cool scene to view.
You know it’s funny after all these years that scene is quite vivid in my mind. From the lights going off, Teemu shaking hands with the reporter / cameraman, Teemu stepping down from the make shift podium, walking towards the stall and sitting down right beside me. That I will never forget!
Pierre Pagé was there beside Don and myself. I was sitting down taking this all in. As Teemu came near I stood up and Pierre Pagé introduced me to Teemu.
With his strong Finnish accent he said “ Hello Joe, Good to meet you! “ Very nice to meet you too Teemu! “ Was all I could mustard...
He excused himself and got dressed then he asked what was on my mind. I started to tell him about my artwork and how he needed to have my painting hanging up in his house.  The business part took over. As I showed him my portfolio his interest grew and he seem to really like the painting I did of Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Esa Tikkanen of the Edmonton Oilers.
He then asked me something that I will never forget.
 He asked me “ Why do I paint hockey players? “ I looked at Don, Pierre, and back at Teemu and all I could say was this.
“ I love painting sports portraits and I love watching hockey so the two go hand in hand. But most important is the thrill to meet a player like yourself, do the artwork, and then watch the smile come onto your face when you see the final art piece of yourself.  “
Teemu looked at me and smiled to which he said,
 “ Ok, when can I see this piece?” Pointing to the art piece of Wayne Gretzky. I mentioned the next time I see him again.
The conversation turned to when the Ducks would be in Calgary again. At that the time the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics were around the corner and Teemu would be practicing with Finland.
To me, that was just too long a time to wait to get any kind of an agreement done. I needed to know when we could meet and how, where, you know all those good qestions?
Pierre said that they would be in Edmonton in two weeks. I asked Teemu how I may I get a hold of him up in Edmonton and he gave me his cell number. He gave me his freaken cell!
I then asked at what hotel they would be staying at in Edmonton and how do I page him at the front desk. Again without hesitation I got an answer from Teemu. “ Call me Mr. Flash!  The front desk will know who I am!”  The first meeting was scheduled. I didn’t get a chance to see him in Edmonton because he got hurt but we did communicate by phone.
I had to decide on my own which pose to do. I found a couple of images, some hockey equipment and proceeded to create the painting. It took about 180 hours to complete. I framed it, which by the way is the last time I do that…..It nearly broke my bank!
I got a hold of Temmu by phone and we decided to meet in Anaheim. My family planned a mini vacation to Disneyland so I took the opportunity to deliver the painting to him. He never did get to see the original of Gretzky, Kurri, and Tikkanen, perhaps some day!

The day that I was to deliver the painting, my family went off to Disneyland. We had caught up with my wife’s parents who were Snowbirds traveling throughout the southern States. So that filled my void in the picture.  Grandpa had to take my spot on the Space Mountain ride. I heard he did well!
Teemu wanted to meet at the Disney Ice complex, which was the Mighty Ducks training facility.
I remember getting asked by the security folks what I was doing inside the arena while the Ducks were practicing, as soon as I mention the word “ Mr. Flash “, it was like I said the magic words. They left me alone…too cool
I got the opportunity to watch practice and after that Teemu came up to the area where I was sitting and motioned to me to go down stairs.
While waiting for the team to clear the dressing room and to get my chance to talk to Teemu, again security approached me. But this time the fellow was a little bit more interested in what I had to show Teemu. So I opened the container the painting was in and proceeded to show him. Soon after we had a crowd around. One of those in the crows was Paul Kariya. He never really said anything but  “ That’s awesome, I know he’ll like it “ then turned and walked away. There was all these people talking to me but for some odd reason his conversation stuck with me.
I got the opportunity to show Teemu the painting and the surprise look and that huge smile sure made my day, I tell you what!
He said his wife was going to love this!
Teemu question to me was  “ Would you be interested in doing a painting of me and Paul?”
Hey what can I say?...” Of course!”
I had mentioned that Paul already seen the painting out in the hallway. That didn’t matter, Teemu wanted to talk to Paul himself.
He brought Paul back into the dressing room and told Paul the idea of a painting of the two of them. Paul agreed and left again. He said,
“ Sure that sounds great!” then Paul turned and left the room. He mentioned something about needing to be somewhere else.
After the business part was done, we packaged up the painting and I followed Teemu out to the player’s parking lot. He shook my hand and I watched him drive away.
The security person in the parking lot looked at me and said,
“ He looked very happy!”  All I could say was,
“ Did that just happened?”
To which he replied, “ He is such a great person, that Mr. Selanne “

Back home in Canada, Teemu and I scheduled another meeting. The day of the meeting and driving on the QE-2 ( back then was just Highway #2 later changed to the Queen Elizabeth #2) to Edmonton in the middle of winter is not an easy task. But hey I was on a mission. To meet Mr. Flash himself again the "The Finnish Flash". Very cool... I was pumped... 
Hotel Macdonald was hotel where our meeting was to take place.  Once I inside.. I was just in awe at the beautiful site of this magnificent hotel. I went straight to the front desk and ask if they could page Mr.Flash...The girl looked at me asked my name and said yes please wait a minute I will get a hold of Mr.Flash for you. Those are the magic words..
I sat down in one of the many leather sofas by the grand fire place. I waited ....and waited  and then I saw Pierre Pagé walking towards me from a distance. 
Pierre shouts out " Joey! How was your trip?"  of course I said great! Then Pierre proceed "Teemu isn't here we had to send him home because of an injury!"...." Oh man!"  Was all that came out of my mouth..." He then asked me how long a drive was it. I told him that the 5 hours of driving went by pretty fast because of what I was going to be doing. But the 5 hours of driving back are going to feel like 10 hours. Pierre said just wait a little bit I'll have a quick meeting with the other players and tell them about your work...
Well it was a show and tell for the players. But they were the ones who got to see the Wayne Gretzky painting.
Teemu, a friend of mine Lloyd Butt ( Brother to Brent Butt, Canadian TV sitcom – Corner Gas )  myself and my family met in Calgary in the fall of 1998.  We were sitting in the lobby of the Westin and waiting for Paul to come down and talk to us. As soon Paul came down and sat with us, there was a bunch of people that just seem to come out of the woodwork to get autographs from these two gentlemen.  That was a little disturbing to witness.
We couldn’t agree to a pose or anything. Paul just got up and left without saying a word. We all just looked at each other confused.
That’s when Teemu said something that to this day I still preach to our kids.
He looked at each one of our kids and said “ If you want people to respect you, you first must respect them!”
After that day, we couldn’t get together to talk about the painting of Teemu and Paul. It just fell through.
But the memories will be forever cherished in my heart!
Thank you Don Wilson, Pierre Page, and of course Mr. Flash

Joe Versikaitis - Sport Artist

“ Mr. Flash ” 
Teemu Selanne - 22” x 30” - Acrylics on Canvas - 1998

By Joe Versikaitis - 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ten Reasons for the Emerging Artist to Join a Local Art Group by Moshe Mikanovsky


This article  is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
In the past year, I have joined two local artists groups. Both are located in the city where I live, Toronto, and both have small membership fee and no jury process to join in. The first (the Israeli Artists Group of Toronto) is specific to my background and culture and the second (the Artists’ Network, Riverdale, Toronto) is more geared towards helping member artists in the marketing of their art.
I have seen many benefits for myself, and for the other members of these groups, in joining and becoming members. Many of the advantages require the member’s participation and being a social-animal. In my case – schmoozing, not being shy about introducing myself, telling the other members what I do, take an interest in what they do, try to help, and more. To me it really works and it will continue working and growing.
So, I wanted to summarize and share with you 10 of the reasons why you should join a local art group. Here I am trying to talk to artists like me – either emerging, or “straggling”. Although I hate the word “straggling”, I am sure you all know what I mean. We try hard, we try our best, but we still need that day job to keep going. So, with these benefits, and many other things we do, one day we will make it and not be straggling any longer!
OK, here we go, the 10 reasons to join a local art group for the emerging and straggling artist:
1.       Socialize – get out of your lonely studio. I have heard it a lot from other members how being an artist can be a lonely thing, being “stuck” in the studio for many hours, not working in an office environment with other people and water-fountain small talk opportunities. The local groups will usually have socializing meetings where you can meet other artists and just get out there.
2.       Learn – see what other people are doing and learn from them. The variety of artists and experiences can really make for an excellent place to learn from other artists – talk with them about the way they tackle the business side of being an artist, find who is giving workshops and attend them, or in many cases, come to a group meeting where one of the artists is presenting their art and techniques.
3.       Share your knowledge – teach other people from your knowledge. If you can learn from others, than there must be something you can teach from your experience. What about art making techniques, marketing ideas, utilizing technology or art shows experience?
4.       Network – meet people who know other people, in order to enlarge your network. Networking cannot be underestimated. Getting to the right people, such as gallery owners, curators, collectors or licensors, can be done through a network of friends with similar goals. And although it might seem that the other artists are your competition, the truth is that many are more than willing to share and connect you to the right people.
5.       Opportunities – One of the end results of growing networking is the opportunities that emerge from many unexpected places. There are many opportunities to be taken, you just have to identify them and make yourself ready for them to call you. You can find new opportunities for business, commissions, art shows, exposure and much more.
6.       Participate in art shows – many of the local art groups organize group shows and, in some cases, they are not juried. This is an excellent way to start exposing yourself and your art and to start building your resume. The juried art shows are even more important, as their quality is often much higher. Getting to know where the art shows are, what their requirements are and who might participate in them are all integral parts of the local group activities.
7.        Volunteer – give your time and efforts for the benefit of you and others. You will gain respect of your fellow artists and they will be willing to help you in return.
8.       Practice – with the many activities that happen throughout the year at the group and volunteering opportunities, you will have the valuable opportunity to practice. Participate in arranging shows, see what happens behind the scenes and learn what is involved. This will give you a great practice that you will need for your own business development.
9.       Expose yourself – let people know you. There is no better way to sell your art than to be known. And you have to start somewhere. Your local art group can be one such place, where you expose who you are, what drives you, make friends and become known in the local area and community. That will also give you the sand-box playground to practice exposing yourself to the rest of the world, like your clients.
10.   Write about it – write your experiences in your blog. It will be a great topic to write about and local searches will rate high in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When you meet other artists, write about them, discuss the group’s events, art shows and other promotions -  you will get better local results for searches. The search engines do look for localization relevancy and being part of and writing about a local group is a wonderful way to do just that.
I hope this list helps you make a decision and join a local art group. You might already belong to a group, or more than one, and nodded in agreement while reading this list. Or you might not have any particular group in your area that fit-the-bill, so maybe start one…
Do you have more reasons that I didn’t mention to join a local art group?  Do you have a story to share with us on how joining a local art group helped your career?

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A story of The Fire Bowl Sunday.... Brooks, Alberta - City and Fire Hall 1970

Brooks, Alberta City and Fire Hall 1970 something

It was quite an honour to be commissioned for this drawing of the old Brooks City and Fire Hall.
As I stared at the reference photograph I was brought back to my childhood days. The summer days of 1973, when every Sunday afternoon was spent playing a game of football down at the Fire Hall Field. By the way the title -( 1970 something ) comes about that no one knows when the photograph of the old hall was taken...
A Story of The Fire Bowl Sunday..
If you look at the drawing, just to the left of the bus that's parked beside the Hall, was the field that we played in. Of course you can't see the field and It wasn't a regular football field, but never the less, it was the Fire Hall Field.
   Along the outside edges of the field were trees that were spaced apart 20 feet or so. All in a row too and they copied each other on the opposite side of the field. We used these tree's as our field lines. The field was only 150 feet long by 60 or 70 feet...or so. Well, it was big enough for us to play our game on, that's all that mattered at the time.
I can remember all the fun and excitement that we always seem to have. The anticipation that started during the week with the winners hoisting the trophy, the Fire Bowl Sunday trophy!...In short the Fire Bowl...Yes the trophy!?...It was this hub cap that one of us found along the curb while we were walking towards the fire hall one day....Simple, but Great! 
Well, as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. One Fire Bowl Sunday, when our quarterback through a touch down pass that didn't quite make it to our receiver...! 
You see he over through the ball and it crashed into the middle set of windows. Breaking the bottom right pane..... Lets just say we didn't stick around to get our ball back....!

So your probably wondering what playing football on Sundays afternoon in the middle of 1973 summer has anything to do with this drawing....Well, if you look at the drawing and focus your site to the two garbage cans in the doorway. You will see our Fire Bowl Sunday football on the floor...waiting for the game to begin....By Joe Versikaitis

Detail of the Fire Engines
Visit Joe Versikaitis at  Versikaitis - The art of Sport

History of the
Brooks Fire Department

The following history of the Brooks Fire Department was prepared by Maurice Landry after reviewing clippings from the Brooks Bulletin obtained by Joe Yarrow.

Special Thanks to Susan (Smallbones) Zibin

Fire Chiefs

J.A. Bosley 1913-1914
Unknown 1914-1936
William Swanson 1936-1937
Graham Anderson 1937-1939
Fred Hansen 1939-1949
Oliver Ingram 1949-1955
George Anderson 
1955 - 1964
Edwin Smallbones 1964 - 1973
Gordon Wilson 1973-1991
Denis Cuninghame 1991-2002
Kevin Swanson 2003-present

Interesting Facts

1911 – A large fire destroys a whole downtown block. Constable Heskath expressed the need to organize a fire brigade and purchase a reliable fire pump as the existing one is in a state of disrepair.

 – November – A Fire Brigade was organized with J.A. Bosley as the Fire Chief.

 – January – The Fire Brigade moved to request Town Council to purchase a gasoline engine and force pump to be mounted on a truck which will be used in addition to the present chemical pump.

 – January – Fire destroys the Town Office, Fire Hall & Jail.

1920 – May – Council decides to spend $10,000 for a new fire hall and Town Office. The old chemical engine was reported in fair shape.

1937 – December – Fire Chief Graham Anderson recommends that Council purchase a new fire truck. The 1928 Model A chemical truck has been used in Ontario and the price of $750 plus freight is reasonable.

1938 – February – Fire Chief Graham Anderson’s year end report indicated the department attended 4 alarms and had 44 members. He recommended that the department should be appropriated $1 per capita instead of the present $0.03. He also stressed the need for a new fire truck.

1941 – Electric fire siren was installed downtown to alert fireman of an emergency call.

1945 – February – Town purchased the 1941 Ford for the Brooks Fire Brigade at a cost of $3,400.00. This was a much needed replacement for the existing 1928 chemical truck.

1949 – A crew from Brooks participated in a hose laying competition. They laid 200 feet of hose and had water in 34 seconds. The Provincial record was 27.4 seconds.

1952 – December – The new Town Office and Fire Hall are located on First Avenue at First Street West.

1955 – Firemen received $5 per month, which was called “soap money”. Most times the firemen, after receiving their $5, went to the local beer parlor for the evening.

1958 – February – Fire Chief George Anderson reports that the fire department had 10 calls in 1957.

1961 – Brooks Rural Fire Association is formed.

1963 – Rural Fire Department purchases a 1963 Dodge fire truck. It has a 500 gallon water tank and a 500 gpm front mount pump. The yearend report indicates there were 19 members in the Department and they attended 13 fire calls in Town.

1964 –  Edwin Smallbones is appointed Brooks and Distrct Fire Chief.

1966 – Firemen to receive $4 for the first hour of a call and then $3 per hour thereafter. The Fire Chief would get $6 for the first hour and then $4 per hour thereafter.

1967 - George Anderson is new Fire Chief...In appreciation for services as Fire Chief from 1964 - 1967, Edwin Smallbones receives recognition Plaque from Town of Brooks. 

1970 – The yearend report indicates there were 19 members and they attended 22 fire calls. Edwin Smallbones is appointed Fire Chief for another term.

1973 – Town appoints Gordon Wilson as the first full-time fire chief. The Fire Department ordered a new Ford fire truck at a cost of $29,700. The truck was not delivered until 1975. It was a 1974 Ford which carried 500 gallons of water and had a 840 gpm pump. The Town of Brooks presents former Fire Chief Edwin Smallbones a recognition Plaque for his services form 1970 - 1973. 

1974 - Former Fire Chief Ed Smallbones from Brooks Fire Brigade, receives recognition Plaque from Town of Brooks for volunteering his Service from 1961 - 1974 to the Brooks Fire Department.  From October 1967 - October 1970, even though Ed Smallbones could not hold the position of Fire Chief while a councillor for the Town of Brooks. He did continue as a volunteer fireman for those years.

1975 – The fire department moves to a new building on First Avenue at Centre Street. The equipment to be stored in the new building was the ’41 Ford, ’63 Dodge (Rural), ’74 Ford and an equipment van. Fireman remuneration increased from $4/hr to $8/hr.

1977 – Purchased a 1952 85 foot Ladder truck. The truck was used by the Edmonton Fire Department. It was built by the Saskatoon Fire Engine Co. and had a King Seagrave Chassis with GMC power train.

1978 – The fire department purchased a foam maker for fire fighting. Council was also requested to purchase pagers for each fireman.

1979 – Fire department equipment consisted of 2 Town pumper trucks, one Rural pumper truck, an 85 ft ladder truck, equipment van and a rescue vehicle. The department had 3 two-way radios.

1980 – The department obtained additional rescue equipment which included air bags, an electric winch and an oxygen/acetylene cutting torch. Also the hose drying tower was added to the firehall. The fire department purchased a new 1-ton rescue truck. They responded to 73 fire calls in Town.

1981 – The Rural Fire Department receives a new fire truck. It was a 1981 Ford Louisville with 1000 gallon tank and a 625 gpm front mount pump. This replaced the 1963 Dodge which was purchased by the Town. Fire Chief G. Wilson reports that it is difficult to recruit firemen who are available during the day.

1982 – Volunteer fireman, George Anderson, is voted the Chamber of Commerce citizen of the year, for his many years (34 years) of service to the community.

1984 – The fire department purchased a rescue tool called the Jaws of Life. Also acquired 700 feet of 4” high volume fire hose.

1988 – A new Ford pumper truck was purchased at a cost of $150,000. This truck would replace the 1941 Ford which will be moved to the museum. It had a 1050 gpm pump and carried 1000 gallons of water.

1989 – The fire siren was taken out of service. All firemen were now equipped with pagers.

1991 – Gordon Wilson retires and Denis Cuninghame is appointed Fire Chief. The department answered 101 fire calls during year – 71 were in Town and 30 were in the rural area. Volunteer firemen receive $10.50 per hour while fighting fires.

1993 – The Rural Fire Department purchases a Volvo fire truck at a cost of $170,000 to replace the 1981 Ford. It carried 1000 gallons of water and had a 1050 gpm pump. An addition to the firehall for a workshop and storage area was completed.

1995 – The department purchased a new Volvo truck to be used as a rescue truck and a mobile command centre at a cost of $144,000. They answered 109 fire calls during the year – 69 were in Town and 40 were in the rural area.

1996 – A new law was passed to allow volunteer firemen to use flashing green lights to advise motorists they were responding to a fire call.

1997 – Fire Chief Denis Cuninghame suggests to Council that a new fire hall is required as the department is outgrowing the present building. Kevin Swanson was hired as the second full-time firemen.

1998 – The department purchases water rescue equipment including a 14 foot Zodiak inflatable boat. In August, all emergency calls are switched to a 911 service.

1999 – A new fire truck was acquired. It had a 1250 gpm pump and replaces the 1974 Ford Pumper.

2000 – The department answered 133 fire calls during the year – 90 were in Town and 43 were in the rural areas.

2001 – The department responded to 191 calls – 145 were in the Town and 46 were in the rural areas. The staff of 28 firefighters received 1,199 hours of training. Department hosted Southern Prairie Fire Fighter Combat Challenge.

2002 – The department responded to 173 emergency calls. Two volunteer firefighters, Terry Welsh and Shane Cote, were presented with Life Saving Awards. Volunteers participated in the Fire Fighter Combat Challenge in Swift Current. Brooks hosted the Battle of the Badges Charity Hockey Game. Denis Cuninghame resigns as Fire Chief.

2003 – A total of 218 emergency calls were answered this year. Kevin Swanson is new Fire Chief and Keith Martin is hired as Assistant Chief. Ten members, Joe Yarrow, Rick Evans, Kevin Swanson, Maurice Landry, Ron Hagg, Denis Cuninghame, Barry Yokoyama, Liam Latta, Shawn Bryant and Ron Redelback were presented with Alberta Emergency Services Medal for 12 years of service. Two members, Denis Cuninghame and Liam Latta, were presented with the federal Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal for 20 years of service.

2004 – 310 emergency calls were responded to this year. Land purchased for a new fire hall.

2005 –A total of 341 emergency calls were answered. Three members, Jim Bonora, Terry Welsh & Keith Martin, were presented with the Alberta Emergency Services Medal for 12 years of service. Two members, Keith Martin & Joe Yarrow, were nominated for federal Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal for 20 & 40 years of service.

2006 - A total of 355 emergency calls were answered. Received delivery of the new Rapid Response Vehicle. In May, the new Regional Fire Training Facility, located at 280 Canal Street, was opened.

2007 - 394 emergency calls were answered during the year. A 2007 109 ft Rosenbauer Aerial/Pumper was purchased. Construction of New Fire Hall (Protective Services Facility) was approved by City Council. Ground Breaking Ceremony occurred May 12, 2007.

2008 – In January the Brooks Rural Fire Protection Association disbands and their two trucks were signed over to the Brooks Fire Department through an agreement with the County of Newell. The new fire hall is completed with Grand Opening Ceremonies held on September 6. Two members, Mike Stewart and Darcy Seitz, were presented with Alberta Emergency Services Medal of 12 years of service.

I would like to thank the Brooks Bulletin for providing this wonderful photograph 
and the memories that came with it..

I would also like to thank Frameways Gallery & Frame Shop (  Brooks, Alberta )

for searching of the reference photo for this project....

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Kidd and Me - The Story on how I met Trevor Kidd goaltender for the Calgary Flames - 1995

The Kidd and Me
by Joe Versikaitis

In this Blog I will share as a youngster, some of my first experiences with the game of Hockey. Then you'll be able to read the exciting moments in getting to meet Trevor and showing him the painting KIDDER #37.

Imagine an eight year old boy who has lived all his young life in a country where there is no winter, no winter sports and the number one sport is soccer. Palm trees and bamboo shoots grew wild along the country sides. Things like Living near a jungle was a play ground and a place where you can go and catch an exotic animal to bring home and freak his mom out. The only thing he knew about snow and bitter cold temperatures is from photos in books or stories that were told from other family members who had the opportunity to travel abroad to a country like Canada. For the longest time the talk was all about moving to Canada and when they finally moved to Canada the experience was one of a culture shock to say the least.

 This is how I experienced Hockey and these individuals called " Guardians of the nets " for the first time.
Goalies as I see them, are the most lonesome, uncanny and superstitious individuals I have ever known. They don't like to communicate with anyone before a game. They have rituals that start every morning when they wake up and follow them throughout the day until bed time. I'm sure the rituals occur during their sleep as well. Nuts you say!! Well who in the right mind would strap on a pair of over sized pillows to their legs, put on a 1/4 inch of padding all over their bodies, have a modified baseball glove in one hand and on the other hand have a five finger leather glove with a Sears catalogue taped to it? Then to top it all of stand there in front of a mesh structure, wait for some guy to skate up to them and just assault them with a rubber projectile.
The stress level that goalies endure during a game is anything but normal for any human being. They seem to go into a lunatic fringe.  For example,  starting at their net before each face-off they skate in an figure eight. Then stopping in front of the net, with their backs turned towards the net and whacking  the post with the butt end of their sticks. They finish off by reciting a chant for good luck.......Whacked all right!!
To this day goalies have fascinated me. Even with all their rituals and wackiness the goalie is the glue to a team. If your team isn't scoring the goalie can still keep you in the game.

Living in a small town in southern Alberta, I followed the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers of the N.H.L. My favourite team I must say was and still is the Calgary Flames. One of the players I associated with was Trevor Kidd. Remembering his remarkable Junior years with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs to winning the World Junior Championship in1990 and 1991. The 1992 Winter Olympics Games in Albertville, France. Then watching him play with the Calgary Flames from 1993 through 1998 until traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. 
I can still remember the first time that Trevor and I met. It was November 21, 1995. The night before the weather play havoc on the Highway #1 between Brooks and Calgary. I put my painting of Trevor in the truck and headed to Calgary. The usual trip was one and half hours but on this day it was to take me four and half. I finally reached my destination with not much time to spare.

You see Trevor was at a autograph signing cession in a new Sport Mart store. When I got inside there was Trevor and Jamie McCloughon, place kicker for the Calgary Stampeders, sitting near the front. I said great this isn't going to take long. Until I seen the line up. This line up started at the front of the store and twisted around the isles and  towards the back  then coming back towards the front again in front of the two players. I guess I was lucky Trevor's signing cession was from 12:00 p.m. to 3:pm. By the time I got to meet Trevor it was 2:50.
Now your probably thinking what's the big deal, right? Well by the time I got to speak to Trevor there was a crowd of people all around me asking me question about this painting and getting their pictures taken with me and the painting. I even had a little boy ask me for my autograph. As I approached the front of the table where Trevor and Jamie were sitting they both just looked at me wondering what the hell was going on.  Then there was a tug at my pant leg as looked down to see yet another little boy. He asked if he could have his dad take a picture of Trevor ,the painting and me.....
" Have you ever been in a strange place where nobody knows you and everybody is looking right at you?..WOW!"

I finally had my chance to talk to Trevor and mentioned to him my intentions to create limited edition prints. Gauging from the response of the crowd at the store I told him that it might be a good thing.  I gave him my business card and told him " I think we'll be in touch one of these days".  Trevor looked at me shook my hand and said " We sure will! " As I was leaving one of parents in line asked me if I was going to make prints and where they could get one. All I could say was soon as I handed them one of my business cards and told them to get in touch with me in a week.
A few days later I received a message from Trevor on my answering machine. He asked me if we can get together on a certain date down at the Olympic Saddledome as it was name back in 1995, now the Pengrowth Saddledome.
He wanted to meet after they had their pre-game practice in the morning.  I was so excited that I took the cassette tape out of the answering machine and kept it in a safe place. On that particular day my very close friend Mike Laux and myself arrived at the Saddledome and entered where Trevor told me to enter, the players entrance.  We were  met by a security personal who kindly let us in. He in turn gave us directions which way to turn and follow the corridor under the bleachers that would lead to the hallways that go to the dressing room and to the ice surface. ( Those were his exact words, I wrote them down..)

  By this time my heart was beaten faster then a speeding chicken.  I was so overwhelm that I didn't want to miss a moment.  I remember telling Mike " I hoped that we remember this for the rest of our lives. "
 We were met by a person called Huey.  I didn't get his last name.  Huey was the teams equipment and caretaker person.  I remember him by the kindness that he showed us and by giving us a taste of his wonderful coffee, which by the way was a great idea at the time.  Huey  asked us to go with him and watch the practice.  We followed him through the hallway  under the bleachers that lead to the ice surface and the Calgary Flames bench. Once at the bench we had a great view of the Saddledome and all it's glory. All this time I was hanging on to my portfolio that carried the painting of Trevor Kidd which I called " Kidder # 37" and shaking with anticipation of what was going to take place. The players were coming off the ice after their practice, I don't remember all the players but I do remember getting the hell out of the way cause some of these guys were huge. Of course there was the players like Gary Roberts,  Cale Hulse,  Robert Reichel,  Rick Tabaracci,  Ed Ward, and a short guy by the name of Theo Fleury, just to name a few.  Then Kidder approached the bench and took his mask and catching glove off skated off the ice. Approached Mike and I and shook our hands .  Even though it was sweaty and smelly, it was one of those handshakes that I couldn't see myself forgetting.

After our greeting, Kidder asked if we could wait outside the locker until the team had a meeting and then he would come out and get us.  Considerable time had past before he emerged from the locker room and invited us in. Once in the room it was a typical dressing room atmosphere. The sweaty smell, the moisture in the air, the equipment being hang up by Huey and another gentleman.

Kidder brought Mike and myself over to his changing area. I was just amazed. I was standing in the Calgary Flames dressing room. Very cool....Some of the players were still around, although I'd hope that the whole team was there but still there was an audience to look at my work of Kidder #37. First Gary Roberts came over to see it and Kidder introduced us . At that time Gary was injured with a neck injury.
Then something happened that I will never ever forget for the rest of my life...From my right side of the dressing room, well actually in the shower room door way ready to go have a shower there stood Theo Fleury butt naked saying in his deep voice " That doesn't look like you Kidder ".  Then laughing at his own remark. I'll tell you what, as quickly as we turned our heads in the direction of the voice the quicker we turned back.  I will never forget that moment...That was one of those moments that Mike and I laughed about all the way home...
A few other players came over to see the artwork. Kidder and I had small talk about the printing of " Kidder #37 ". I finally got to ask him if I could see his mask, Trevor hesitation was noticeable do to the fact that most goalies are so superstitious of someone else touching their equipment or shaking hands with someone just before game time. In some cases it meant the end of that piece and off to buy a new one.
To my delight he let me hold his mask. I was speechless and mesmerized by the detail of the painting of a dragon on it. I asked Kidder if my friend Mike could take a picture of me holding his mask and Kidder beside me. Of course he agreed..
 But here is the thing, as Kidder and myself were standing side by side and got our mugs shots together, after the flash went off I felt something move under my foot. As I looked down to see what was moving I noticed Kidder move his foot away. I realize then that I had stepped on his pinky toe......not funny at all.  Remember I mentioned how superstitious goalies are and how they don't like it when someone else touches their equipment or in this case...them just before a game?
Well that night the Flames lost against Chicago 6 to 2. OOPS!!

Trevor Kidd and myself before stepping on his
and this is after I stepped on Trevor's toe....
The guy in the background is Gary Roberts...

Photographs by Mike Laux. This one is for you Mike. ( Rest in Peace buddy)

It was a month later that I created the limited edition prints of KIDDER #34..
By the way that cassette tape from my answering machine? I had Trevor sign it..
Thats right sign it......
Yeah that's kind of the look I got from him as well...
The printing, well that's another story...
Thank you for reading The Kidd and Me
It was an unforgettable day...that`s for sure...
...Joe Versikaitis...