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Cowboys and art just go together

An exhibition that opened at the Peace Gallery North Friday was as much a celebration of landscapes and characters of the Western frontier as it was a testament to the hardiness and tenacity of the artist who painted them.

An exhibition that opened at the Peace Gallery North Friday was as much a celebration of landscapes and characters of the Western frontier as it was a testament to the hardiness and tenacity of the artist who painted them.

Karl Musgrove has always painted the cowboys, wildlife and rugged landscapes of the American Northwest and the Peace Region, because those have been the things he's known.

What made this gallery opening special is that five years ago, Musgrove had a sever stroke which left the right side of his body virtually paralyzed.

In order to continue painting, he had to learn how to paint with his left hand and accommodate for the fact that he can only see out of half of each eye,

Despite his challenges, he filled the gallery with scores of oil-paintings and drawings that depict life in the wild-west, in hues that exploit the vast spectrum of colour in a prairie field, rocky mountain, or a leathered face.

Many of Musgrove's paintings capture historical scenes, or those from faraway lands, but he doesn't paint from photographs - instead the images come from his mind, steeped in the reality of his life experience.

After his stroke in 2006, Musgrove began painting more scenes from his imagination, with the resulting style becoming more impressionistic.

Musgrove became interested in art in the fifth grade, when he started making an earnest effort to hone his craft. Following high school, he enrolled in a long-distance art course through the University of Minneapolis.

However, during his early-adult life there wasn't much time left for painting after running his ranch and taking care of his young family. Although he continued to paint as he raised his family, his main focus was the ranch.

Eight months after his massive stroke, Musgrove was able to start painting again and since then has spent up to six hours a day creating his art.

His wife Ann Musgrove said that she thinks Karl's art has played a major role in his rehabilitation.

"If he didn't have his art, I don't know what he'd be doing now," she said.

Karl's son told him to look at the stroke as an opportunity to finally retire and devote his time to his passion. Karl (senior) and Ann live at their ranch in Charlie Lake, where they raise cattle with the help of their sons.