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ArtWalk will be Olympicized

More than 60 Sea to Sky artists to showcase visual artwork during the Games

While local, national and international musicians will be singing their hearts out on stage in Whistler during the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, there also promises to be plenty of visual art on offer to stimulate the senses through Whistler Live!'s ArtWalk program.

The self-guided walking tour will see visitors (and a few residents, of course) visiting the restaurants, bars, galleries and cafes throughout town who have agreed to exhibit pieces created by Sea to Sky artists. To locals, the concept probably sounds eerily familiar - that's because the Games-time program is modelled after the Whistler Arts Council's annual summertime ArtWalk.

Ali Richmond is marketing and creative integration manager for Whistler Live! during the Olympics, but she is also communications and marketing manager for the Whistler Arts Council, which has organized ArtWalk events for the past six years.

"We wanted to ensure that there was an avenue for our visual artists to showcase their work during the Games, so we did use the summer ArtWalk model," Richmond explained. "It has always worked very well to get the art out there."

Whistler Live! organizers are hoping that the ArtWalk program will complement their roster of musical and performance art pieces, and offer local artists and artisans an opportunity to showcase their work for discovery - and possibly purchase - to Olympic visitors.

And 2010 ArtWalk is shaping up to be Olympic-sized, with more artists and venues than ever on board.

"It's basically the same model as the summer," Richmond explained. "We were able to get more artists in, we just had to reduce the number of pieces each artist is able to show."

They also decided against holding their typical opening reception.

"I think the entire Olympic Games will be a big enough party as it is," Richmond added.

WAC issued a call for artists in October, and received a very strong response, with "all the usual suspects" applying to the program, along with a few new people throwing their hat in the rings.

"We have more venues this time around than we ever have had before, which is fantastic - we have 44 host galleries with over 60 artists from the Sea to Sky corridor."

Participating artists include Toby Jaxon, photographer Brian Hockenstein, Dave Petko, Cary and Paolo Lopes and Chili Thom. They will be exhibiting in businesses like TD Canada Trust, Whiski Jack Resorts, the Fitzsimmons Pub, the Plaza Galleries and Sushi Village.

They accepted artwork in a range of mediums - ceramics, photography, mixed medium and paintings - with styles varying from the abstract to traditional landscape.

"Anything goes, within reason obviously, but you definitely can tell there are certain themes at certain venues," said Richmond. "There are some venues that wanted the Whistler landscapes, there are some venues that wanted the more abstract pieces. There are some venues that wanted contemporary pieces and some places wanted photography."

They've even expanded the program's reach outside of the village and Upper Village, to include Creekside businesses like Players Chophouse, The Hub and Playground Real Estate Inc.

The exhibit will run for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games - 27 days in total. Detailed maps outlining ArtWalk venues locations and their corresponding artists will be available at the Visitor Information Centre and Whistler hotels at the beginning of February.

Whistler Live! organizers have also announced that MuchMusic VJ Devon Soltendieck will be hosting their festivities.

From Feb. 12 to 28, Soltendieck will be in Whistler hosting the 17-day festival that will have Village Stoll pulsating with parties and performances from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. The Whistler Live! roster features a range of free and unique experiences, and as a face of the festival, Soltendieck will catch up with the athletes to recap their races and competitions. He'll also interview artists like the Barenaked Ladies, Bedouin Soundclash, Elliott Brood, Hawksley Workman, Jully Black, Kid Koala, Matisyahu, Sam Roberts Band and Wintersleep as they make their way to the stage. These interviews and news updates will then be broadcast across Whistler Live!'s 14 screens throughout the village before, after, and between live broadcasts and performances.

The public can get in on the action by visiting Soltendieck's home base, located on the Village Common at the Whistler Live! production studio.