Love it or hate it, the Calgary Stampede is a place where myth, history and spectacle collide. 100 years after an American vaudeville cowboy first dreamed it up, the Stampede remains an unrivalled homage to the West.
Cowboy Wild was more than a decade in the making. Photographer David Campion roamed the world’s biggest Wild West show and brought back a collection of images that speak to our fascination with the cowboy. With wry humour, these photographs pull back the curtain and probe the contradictions that lie at the heart of a myth that transforms history into a story about the triumph of man over nature, nostalgically regretted even as it is celebrated.
As the Stampede marks its 100th anniversary, the time is ripe for a book that goes beyond the hype. In the accompanying essay, writer Sandra Shields uses the prism of the Stampede to offer a meditation on the meaning of the West and its enduring hold on our collective imagination.
"This year, the Stampede even sponsored the launch of a book that openly criticizes the institution. Cowboy Wild, written and illustrated by former Calgarians Sandra Shields and photographer David Campion, describes the Stampede as "a place where myth, history and spectacle collide." Campion says the danger of the myth is that it destroys that which it celebrates." -The Calgary Herald, July 6, 2012
"The Calgary Stampede, which turns 100 this July, began as a rip-off of Buffalo Bill’s rodeo vaudevilles. But it has become one of the world’s largest, and weirdest, country-western fairs, luring hippies, Mounties, Indian chiefs and local yokels. These are the subjects of “Cowboy Wild”, by the photographer David Campion." - Stephen Heyman, New York Times Magazine, May 11, 2012