By Don Anderson
Whistler residents Isobel MacLaurin and Christina Nick will be among the artists participating in the inaugural Mountain Mosaic arts program on Whistler Mountain this summer, an event spearheaded by the Whistler Centre for Business and the Arts.
Centre spokesperson Ann-Shirley Goodell says the pilot program, modelled after the Centre’s Music in the Mountains-Young Artists Experience program, is intended to further the development of Whistler’s cultural and artistic base.
"The vision for the longer term was a summer school for the arts on Whistler Mountain," says Goodell.
"This year we could do a pilot program for two weeks to see if this was something that would be attractive to the local community, the tourist community and B.C. as a whole."
The inspiration for the program was artist Jack Shadbolt, who submitted work for the Music in the Mountains 1996 image. In the past, images have been culled from such B.C. artists Zbigniew Kupeznyski and Colin Righton.
But the inclusion of Shadbolt helped move the program from a dream to a reality.
And with Whistler Mountain providing its Children’s Learning Centre as a venue, the centre has scheduled two weeks of visual arts workshops, the first-ever attempt at creating a regular program of professional visual arts instruction at Whistler.
Mixed-media artist Pat O’Hara will lead the first workshop, starting Aug. 4. She will be followed by watercolorist Toni Onley, one of Canada’s best known artists whose work has appeared in many prominent public and private galleries across the country.
MacLaurin and Nick, both well-known Whistler artists, will lead their own workshops Aug. 9-18. MacLaurin is best known for her renderings of local mountains, wildlife, flora and fauna, while Nick’s monoprints have drawn widespread praise from curators for their feeling of movement, life and texture.
"We were looking for artists who were working in different mediums, we didn’t want all watercolours, we didn’t want all acrylics and we didn’t want people who were duplicating each other’s skills," says Goodell.
Goodell is confident that the mosaic program will expand next year to include wood carving, ceramic or glass blowing instruction, but it will all depend on the availability of instructors and the level of interest.
The Mountain Mosaic program consists of six workshops with a maximum enrolment of 25 students each. While emphasis is being placed on attracting younger artists, five spots have been reserved in each workshop for young adult artists.
Local artists, says Goodell, are welcome to apply.
"This is really a program for everyone," she says.
Everyone that has some artistic experience; it’s not for beginners, she cautions.
"It’s for people who are serious artists, whether they do that seriously recreationally or whether they sell their art."
The centre will be judging the portfolios of young adult artists who apply and only the best will be admitted.
Goodell says the program will bring a summer school of arts to Whistler, something long overdue. It will also assist in sustaining Whistler’s tourism base, particularly the division of cultural tourism, she says.
"Something like this in Whistler will draw people, and the income from our tourists and people who come to Whistler for this second industry will more than support it," she says.
"All we need is more facilities, culture takes lots of facilities."
Goodell says Mountain Mosaic is the first step to securing a home for visual arts programs in Whistler, adding that some day the area may boast a school that rivals institutions and programs in Banff and Aspen, among other resorts in North America.
"Mountain Mosaic is a start, and the pilot project is very important," she says. "It needs to be done, and it needs to be done well."