I feel like a bit of a creative hoarder."
Cary Campbell Lopes is describing her family's home-turned-workspace in Black Tusk Village. There's a chandelier dress hanging from the ceiling, a bird cage skirt in one corner, a life-size totem pole in another, up to 100 headdresses and costumes depicting peacocks, mermaids and mountains. "We've got two storage rooms upstairs which used to be the kids' room and our room. On top of that, I have a sewing space and an easel painting space," she says.
It's been a slow accumulation over the last several years since Campbell Lopes and her husband Paulo started Paintertainment. The company provides models decked out in elaborate costumes and body paint to serve food, entertain or just spice up the atmosphere at events and parties. While the couple can reuse their handcrafted costumes on occasion, they often have to create new garb to fit a theme — hence the hundreds of pieces crammed into their home.
"We went over there a few months ago before summer started to see what they had," says Andrea Mueller, visual arts programmer with the Whistler Arts Council. "It's a wonderland of costumes in their house. It's crazy. They had so much going on in there. The rafters have skirts and dresses and wires and hats. There are mannequins everywhere and they have costumes on the go... It's like a very, very fun dress-up shop. We were like kids in a candy shop."
But their home wasn't always so whimsical. The couple started out as graphic designers and worked in Hong Kong before moving to the corridor. (Though Campbell Lopes completed a foundation year of arts studies as part of a four-year college program and Paulo has taken airbrush courses.)
"When we first came out here we found the whole graphic design side, there wasn't much demand," she says.
It wasn't until a friend asked that they paint him (Paulo is a longtime airbrush artist) for a loony race that the idea for their business first came about. The friend didn't win the race, but he managed to scoop first place in a costume contest. Interest began to build from there.
Their first contribution to the annual ArtWalk came next. "We decided we would paint a living mermaid," Campbell Lopes says. "The girl we used, at the time it was her dream to be a mermaid. We thought, 'Why not?' The guests could come view us painting her, plus she was a great photo op. We had a background set up too."
The mermaid was a hit and Paintertainment has been a part of the event ever since. "The Whistler Arts Council incorporated (our models) into the ArtWalk and they'd take you around to venues... Then it went into decorating two of the arts council members who were working as guides. They're the women in red."
Part of the appeal of Paintertainment is their boundless creativity, Mueller says. "No one I've seen does anything quite the same as Paintertainment," she says. "It's very unique. I don't have to give them creative directions. I know they're going to produce something incredible."
The pair has also been busy with the village animation program this summer, for which they unveiled a new costume with an interesting twist. "We did a running water fountain girl," Campbell Lopes says. "It's a working water fountain. She was positioned outside the Brewhouse in the trees."
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