Bearing it all with art 

A series of workshops and art events focused on bears is running July 15 – 21

click to enlarge animal art It might be a Pika rather than a bear, but Vancouver artist Elizabeth Harris is inspired by her natural surroundings.                         Photo by Elizabeth Harris, submitted
  • animal art It might be a Pika rather than a bear, but Vancouver artist Elizabeth Harris is inspired by her natural surroundings. Photo by Elizabeth Harris, submitted

It was only a matter of time before bears served as muses for Whistler artists.

We love those (sometimes menacing) creatures with whom we share this neck of the woods. That's why artist and teacher Elizabeth Harris chose the animals as the theme for a series of art workshops dubbed Bear + Art, running July 15–21 at White Dog Studio Gallery.

"Their nature, which is not at all aggressive, but passive (is inspiring)," Harris says. "Bears do bring to mind aggression, but when you think about them in a historical context, they're always around. They're there in the background. They have lots of stories written about them. They can be caricature-like or very serious. They have a lot of different (aspects) you can work with."

The event is packed not only with workshops, but also an art exhibit, demonstrations and a 4 km walk from Nita Lake Lodge — where the opening reception takes place Friday at 6 p.m. — to White Dog. The art show will include a series of works with bear imagery brought to life in paintings, sculpture, photography and fibre art.

"A lot of artists really embrace thematic inspiration like that," she says. "Taking a look at all the different ways to present art work is a challenge and it's (valuable) for artists to practice."

The workshops are open to beginners and more advanced artists. They range from Drawing Your Inner Bear, where participants will learn basic drawing techniques, to the Build-A-Bear Ceramic Sculpture Workshop where everyone 12 and up makes a "smoke fired" ceramic creation.

Also on the list is a chance to learn fibre art, painting and mixed media art, led by different artists from the Sea to Sky corridor (including Penny Eder, owner of White Dog) and the Lower Mainland. "The artists I (recruit) are really good at allowing people of different levels to be in their workshops," Harris says. "The instructors can accommodate people who have more experience in making art or beginners. What's great about the workshops is all the supplies are included."

That means they could be a fun activity for tourists as well. "You can come in and make an original piece of art and take it home," she adds. "That's pretty cool."

A Get Bear Smart Walk on July 18 will also serve as a fundraiser for the Get Bear Smart Society. Harris, who has put on several workshops in the Lower Mainland, says she likes to support a worthy cause with her events. "It's really important to give back to your community in different ways and this ties in with my philosophy of making art," she says. "I'm hugely influenced by the environment. I grew up as a ranch girl, so I love the environment and the local scene here."

To register or find out more email bear4art@gmail.com or visit whitedogwhistler.com.

Speaking of White Dog Whistler Studio Gallery, White Dog Whistler

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