Artrageous grows up 

Fifty artists, three-dimensional works on display this year

Whistler’s Artrageous event is growing up.

Artrageous, whose theme is "20 years connecting heart and art," started out as a small, intimate event founded by Whistler artist Christina Nick. It grew out of frustration of five local artists who could not find enough venues for their work.

This year the event, on July 6 in the Whistler Conference Centre undergound, will showcase approximately 50 local artists and is being presented by the Whistler Community Arts Council, in conjunction with Tourism Whistler and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Artrageous is one example of an arts scene revival in the Sea to Sky corridor in recent years. Artrageous itself was dormant for a while, and then revived in the late ’90s.

The first Artrageous event was held in the Kids Kamp day lodge, at Blackcomb’s Base II. Whistler artist Janet Young was there.

"At that time the event was a small, quiet event," says Young.

Young will display her works once again this year, a collection of images from ski scamps in both acrylic and oils.

Jan Holmberg, co-owner of artjunction @ Function gallery, sees a continued growth in the arts scene in Whistler, supported by events like Artrageous and in client purchases.

Holmberg says weekenders and absentee owners, who might visit once or twice a year, often who want to decorate their Whistler home with more than poster art.

Most of the works they want reflect modern interpretations of "Whistler, or a connotation of Whistler."

"More people are interested in getting things going – there’s always a scene, but it lay dormant for awhile," Holmberg says.

"I’m surprised that Whistler does not have more galleries, like Aspen or Vail. Hopefully there will be more activity (in the arts) with the arts council trying to become more active," says Holmberg.

Further down the road, Thor Froslev, of the Brackendale Arts Gallery has watched his own gallery grow since its inception in 1971. In that time BAG has been covered by the Boston Globe, L.A. Times, and Martha Stewart Living magazine. Froslev observes, "art has to grow, and there are always more and more artists passing through the area."

When he first purchased half an acre of land for $5,000 to develop BAG, people were asking "Why would anyone in their right mind open a gallery in a logging community?"

"But as long as you do a good job with your art, they will find you," he says.

Froslev calls Artrageous founder Nick, "a helluva artists, a very ‘infolding’ person."

As part of the evolving nature of Artrageous, three-dimensional works and crafts have been added this year. Local artist Cheryl Massey welcomes the opportunity.

"Some artists feel craftspeople are not artists," she says.

Massey usually displays her tule and kelp baskets at her in-house studio, in venues around Granville Island, or at private shows, says she looks forward to the opportunity to display her work.

"I think it’s wonderful, especially if this is a celebration of the arts," she adds.

This year there will also be a live auction at Artrageous, with donations from participating artists.

Artists who have displayed in previous years include Gloria Masse and Hugh Kearney, who specializes in mixed media works and bird imagery. Kearney is now based in New York City.

In conjunction with Artrageous, the Northwest Connection Gallery on Sunrise Alley will have Manitoba artist R.F.J. Noel doing soapstone carvings outside the gallery, weather permitting, on July 6 and July 7.

Tickets for Artrageous are $5 at the door.

For more information contact the WCAC office at 604-935-8419.


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