Artists showing in the dark 

Lights Out event to raise cash for Whistler Adaptive Sports

What: Lights Out

When: Thursday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m.

Where: Transition Space, Main Street

Cost: By donation

The visual arts are often a one-dimensional sensory experience, only seen with the naked eye and not touched or experienced in any other way. But a group of innovative creative minds is out to change the way we think about art with an incredible exhibition dubbed "Lights Out," which promises to be a well-rounded sensory experience.

The innovative curator behind the Transition Space gallery, which opened in the former home of the Dollar Store over a year and a half ago, Andrea Mueller is also a visual artist and she's taking the lead on this upcoming event.

"We're working together with the local artists that have been in Transition Space for the past year, actually," Mueller said.

Dave "Pepe" Petko, Randy "Randoid" Smith, Jules, Fiona Hickey, Pamela Mason, Devin White, Stan Matwychuk and Vanessa Stark have already signed on for the show, also assuming various organizing responsibilities to help make the event a success and Mueller has also issued a general call for entry, asking visual artists to create unique pieces specifically for this show.

The idea for the show came from an epic power failure in Toronto a few years ago.

"It actually stemmed from me living on the east coast when we had the eastern seaboard crash (in 2003)," Mueller said. "And living in downtown Toronto at the time, if you know the city, it's just not generally that friendly of a place. But that night, when it was completely pitch dark, it almost brought the community together. Everybody came out and strangers were talking to each other and smiling and asking where everybody was going. It was actually one of my most favourite nights in Toronto.

"...Instead of going one way, where everyone could have been going rampant, running around looting and doing all kinds of stuff, people went out and the bars stayed open, they had their candlelight outside, and people were having Apocalypse Now parties where you just go from one to the other."

As the lights started turning back on, one by one, people began moving to areas where the power was still off, to keep the party going later into the night.

"Because the atmosphere was so amazing... you wanted to keep it going," Mueller recalled.

By blacking out the windows at the gallery and turning off the lights, only allowing art lovers to use source light to illuminate the artwork, Mueller is hoping to replicate the sense of anonymity and unity that emerged during the Toronto blackout of 2003.

"Based on that, I was thinking, 'how else can we bring more of the community together?'"

She and another artist, Stan Matwychuk, came up with the idea of including a charity in the evening.

"Of course, since we've got all the lights blocked out, vision loss came to mind," Mueller said.

They decided to offer Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP) the proceeds from the evening to help support their programming efforts, which ensure that everyone has access to sports and recreation.

Chelsey Walker, the executive director of WASP, said that while the group has a lot of support from big corporations like Whistler Blackcomb and Telus, they've never had the grassroots arts group step up and plan an event with them in mind.

"It's just amazing that we have such a diverse community where different groups like this are willing to step up and help us raise funds to provide the programming that we do," she said.

"...I'd say this is a unique one, where they're taking a concept of vision loss and turning it into an art installation - it's just absolutely amazing."

Artists will pay $25 to participate, which will go towards the cost of hosting the event. Admission is by donation, with all proceeds going to WASP. There will also be a silent auction with a few donated pieces on the block to raise money for the cause.

From an artistic standpoint, the show offers an exciting, challenging theme for local artists.

"They're actually all really excited," Mueller said, adding that she's expecting to see a lot more sculptural, three-dimensional pieces submitted.

There will be a lot of self-illuminated pieces as well, alongside work that's in complete darkness.

"So when you enter into the space, you'll be a given a flashlight or headlamp or some other light source to go and view the work, so it's kind of interesting because you're going to be seeing bits and pieces - you don't see the work right away."

They also plan to have a DJ, food and drinks to offer aspects of sound and flavour to the sensory event.

Anyone interested in submitting work to the show can do so until Oct. 5. For more information, visit www.whistlerartscouncil.com and click the link under the Calls For Entry heading.

 

 

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