Trophies were handed out this evening for the 40th annual James Weir Peoples' Choice Art Exhibition.

Winner of first place was Will Kohonik, with his steel sculpture of a panther, 'Pharoah'. He said he's a welder by trade, and has a passion for animals.

“Good ideas just grow, just build,” he shared. “I'm all alone, so I've got lots of time to think. I don't have a woman to distract me. Not yet anyway.”

Kohonik said he's planning to build another panther twice the size of this one.

“Moose Jaw has the world's largest moose. I'll build one twice the size, and in some place that can have the world's largest panther.”

Tana Cugnet's piece, 'Chickadee Trail' was the second place winner, which the artist said was painted just for her.

“I am keeping this one. I actually had started painting it and had my cabin in mind for it. We have a cabin at Kenosee, so it's been a perfect spot to put it,” she shared. “I haven't made one for myself for quite a few years, so this one's kind of special to me, and it worked out well, putting it into the James Weir.”

Cugnet said she had previously shared videos showing her process, but with the rules of this art competition, all social media posts containing that art piece had to be taken down – at least until after the voting ended. While blind voting is underway, it's anybody's guess as to who made which piece.

“That's what I love about the James Weir is it's up for anyone. You get all walks of life coming in here and voting, from kids to seniors, and I think even just being in the Spark Centre, the number of voters has increased so much that you really can't predict what will stand out to people," commented Cugnet.

"I think it's rare in an art show that you can get such a variety. Honestly, when the contest comes out, whether I've submitted something to it or not, I get so excited just for the opening day of it. It's always a surprise for me. It's all different mediums. I don't know how often you see that all side by side like this all representing our southeast community.”

City Curator Regan Lanning shared that 27 artists entered this year, with the most varied show they'd seen in years.

“Thirty exhibition tours were hosted, 28 with Weyburn students. The classrooms from Kindergarten all the way up to Grade 8, taking part,” she shared. “Two other tours were held with community groups.”

She said online voting was put on hold this year, “as we feel the works are hard to fully appreciate on the small screen. We will reevaluate the online voting option for next year. It does require a great deal of work, photographing and editing the photos, organizing the online voting platform and managing it throughout the voting period. It can be taxing.”

In all, 1,549 ballots were cast this year. 

“This is a record-breaking number of ballots for the James Weir. So great job Weyburn,” said Lanning. “Just for contrast, in 2016, only 643 ballots were cast. So we've seen incredible growth in community participation.”

She added there were 139 spoiled ballots, which meant they were not signed or the voter had not chosen three pieces. 

“I would like to thank speedy auto Glass for once again creating the beautiful trophies.”

crwA great turnout for the event, which had 27 artist entries.


winnerWill Kohonik was the first place winner of the JWPC for his work, 'Pharoah', a steel panther (shown below).
pantherWill Kohonik's work took the show.
tana cugnetTana Cugnet won second place for her painting, “Chickadee Trail”. Cugnet is standing next to the third place winner Colette Horack's piece, 'Loon and Five Friends'. Horack was not present to receive her trophy.