Shay Keller is still in his 20s, and already the southern Saskatchewan bronze sculpture artist has hit the big time. His knowledge of anatomy, musculature and intuitive placement of each detail has elevated this young artist to the world stage as an up-and-coming artist extraordinaire — and has already earned him coveted bronze commissions with the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Calgary Stampede.
Shay is, first and foremost, a cowboy. Ranch-raised in the Killdeer district near Rockglen in south-central Saskatchewan, the young artist lives for rodeo. He has a natural talent for roping and currently holds professional rodeo cards and competes on both sides of the border in CPRA and PRCA sanctioned rodeos, and this tie-down roper has won more buckles, saddles and accolades than you can shake a loop at. They include championships in the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Assoc., in ’08 and ’09, qualifying for the 2011 National College Finals Rodeo, declared the Harmon Valley Rodeo champ 2013, was a semi-finalist for the 2016 RFD-TV’s The American and has qualified for the CCA Finals six times. Rodeo may be his first love, but it has led to even more than he could have imagined.
In 2005, not only was Shay a contestant at the National High School Rodeo, but he had entered and won their art contest, which garnered him a scholarship and the front cover of the NHSR program. This was followed by winning the Student Art Contest to commemorate the grand opening of the Shurniak Art Gallery in Assiniboia, Sask. Bill Shurniak, gallery owner and world-travelling art connoisseur, was so interested in the young artist that he invited Shay to become the first artist to hold a solo art show at the gallery.
While still in high school, Shay began producing pencil sketches and scratch art, showing at Agribition (where he met his hero, Bernie Brown) and doing pencil sketch commissions. After high school, Shay accepted a scholarship to Miles City, then to Montana State at Bozeman. It was there that he met his future wife and biggest booster, Robbi Nace, a fellow student and rodeo enthusiast.
After Shay and Robbi moved back to Saskatchewan, Shay began to sculpt. His bronze Canadian Champion was chosen by the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame to be presented to all inductees for 2016–2020.
In October, 2017 two of his sculptures, All in the Reflexes (tie-down roper) and Sliding Into Position (steer wrestler) was chosen by the Calgary Stampede as championship trophies from 2018–2022 for these two events.
This young cowboy is one to watch, for his talent is obvious and his ‘eye’ is sure! To view more of Shay’s works, visit Shay Keller Cowboy Artist on Facebook.