Artists breathe life into World Cup Plaza 

The Whistler Creek area moved from functional to jazzy this past weekend with the unveiling of two new public art installations at World Cup Plaza, outside Dusty’s.

Jill Arnholt’s The Carving Turn and Doug Taylor’s Whiskijack Balance are two new installations presented in conjunction with the public art committee at Intrawest Corp., headed by public art co-ordinator Tom Barratt.

"The Creekside display also sets an example for future projects in public art, bringing meaning to an already good-looking and functional space (at Whistler mountain’s base),"says Barratt.

The vision outlined by the committee was for artists to create "artwork that is interactive with the user," but the subject and materials for the pieces were left wide open.

"I researched a lot by looking at images of World Cup skiers in ‘stop motion’ photography – in particular one book focussing on what makes one skier push for that one hundredth of a second to win the gold versus another," says Anholt. "With stop motion, one turn is broken into a series of turns within the image, and from there I developed the motion of The Carving Turn."

Her work, made of stainless steel and topped with Santa Maria hardwood, surrounds a stage-like platform that curves in the motion of what could be a shorter GS turn. Three circles, in gold, silver and bronze, are etched on stage to represent the three medals award in ski competitions.

"I really want to emphasize (with this piece) the risk and precariousness that is involved with skiing," adds Anholt, who is a skier.

Taylor’s work takes a different subject matter but also uses stainless steel. His piece is a thick outline of a whiskijack, with a quirky rotating peanut that hangs just below the mountain bird so prevalent in the Whistler area. A peanut could not be more appropriate next to Dusty’s, which in a previous incarnation sported wall-to-wall peanut nutshells on its floor.

The piece is portable art that breaks down into three pieces, for easy transport from Taylor’s home studio in Vancouver. Taylor says the inspiration for his piece came from a quiet walk in the woods at Cypress. He recounted for the audience a simple tale of a whiskijack that flew by and then landed near him as he sat still.

Located at the "point of convergence" where two stairways meet at the end of Whistler Creek’s pedestrian bridge, the structure’s fluid shape is also highlighted by an outer steel bar that frames the shape in a tight, mid-air pose.

Barratt says the private art display in the Chateau Whistler’s back garden, outside the Mallard Lounge, was a template for the World Cup Plaza art installation.

The public art committee reviewed 130 submissions for World Cup Plaza. Those proposals, which included slides and artists’ written statements, were narrowed down to eight. Financial compensation was given to the eight finalists to prepare scale models and final presentations.

Members of the public art selection jury for the World Cup Plaza installation included Gwen Boyle, a Vancouver artist; Michele Cordey, curator at the Vancouver Art Museum; Paula Campbell, art gallery owner at the time of selection; Fiona Cull, a supervisor with Whistler-Blackcomb; Doug Ogilvy, vice president of Intrawest Resort Development Group and currently with the Mammoth Mountain Resort; and Paul Burrows, a local resident at the time of seclection.

In addition to Barratt, other members present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Eric Gerlach, Director of Development at Intrawest, and Christopher Nicolson, Public Relations and Communications Manager for Whistler-Blackcomb.

The next public art project in progress is a display at the new Four Seasons Hotel location, scheduled for opening in the spring of 2002.

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