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Creating an artistic legacy from the Games

Any artists who were in town to experience the Olympic and Paralympic Games should start getting their creative juices flowing; the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Public Art Committee is going to be offering up a "substantial" Games-related projec

Any artists who were in town to experience the Olympic and Paralympic Games should start getting their creative juices flowing; the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Public Art Committee is going to be offering up a "substantial" Games-related project in coming weeks.

Kevin McFarland, parks planner for the RMOW, explained that the general concept behind Whistler's Olympic legacy art project is to capture Whistler's experience of the Games. But it's taken some time for the Public Art Committee to develop more detailed terms of reference for the project.

"It's a tricky one, because we know from past experience on our much smaller projects that when we've provided a lot of detail and even themed the thing, we really lose artists' interest in submitting a proposal," McFarland explained.

"And then times when we've had no direction we get a wishy-washy response, so we really have struggled with striking a balance."

But he expects that with a much higher budget than ever before - $200,000 - they'll receive plenty of submissions.

They plan to reserve $10,000 of the overall budget for the applicants that are shortlisted in the first stage of the competition, so they can use those reserved funds to develop more detailed proposals. That means that the remaining commission is approximately $190,000. Apparently, that amount is comparable to other artistic legacy projects down in the Lower Mainland; the Richmond Oval project is budgeting for $250,000.

"We found one that is comparable to us is the curling arena in Vancouver, The Hillside, was a venue, and they've actually gone through a call for artists for something as a legacy art component, and they were actually more than us," McFarland said.

"For us, it's big," he added.

The Committee gave local artists a heads-up about the project before the Games, so they could keep their eyes open during the events, looking for inspiration and ideas. But that doesn't mean a local artist will be selected; the competition is open to artists around the world.

The application process is anonymous, so proposals are judged on their merit, with the background on the team of artists revealed in a second, sealed envelope later in the jurying process.

"So basically, the jury opens the first envelope and hopefully they're blown away by a terrific idea, and then they go to the second envelope to see: 'Okay, can these people deliver?'" McFarland explained.

"As it turns out, of late, Whistler artists have been winning these things, too."

Four locations at Whistler Olympic Plaza (the site formerly known as Whistler Medals Plaza) have been identified as possible sites for an artistic installation.

"We wanted to give artists a sense of the site so they could get their teeth into something, but then we also wanted them to feel that they could respond to something that struck their fancy."

The Public Arts Committee will be presenting more detailed information on the project to council at their meeting on Tuesday, June 15.

"This is a pretty significant site for (public art). Council hasn't heard about it, aside from having it in the five-year capital plan."

The opportunity will be posted immediately following the Council meeting, advertised for two months, then the submissions will be reviewed and a shortlist will be developed. The shortlisted groups will be given a bit of funding to further develop their proposals, and then one will be selected for the project.

"That takes us several months into this year but the thought was this project would always be installed in 2011 because, it being substantial, we want folks to have a good shot at considering their proposal and then actually delivering on the project," McFarland said.

Recognizing artistic excellence

There are many creative minds in the mix here in the Sea to Sky corridor, but according to the Whistler Arts Council (WAC) and a panel of industry experts, there are two that truly stand out from the pack.

Alison Hodson and Angela Teng, two local artists, have been selected to receive the inaugural Professional and Emerging Artist Award of Excellence, respectively.

These awards are a joint program coordinated and sponsored by WAC and La Bocca Restaurant, created as the result of an action item proposed by the Whistler2020 Arts, Culture & Heritage Task Force. They recommended developing a program in which the community publicly recognizes Sea-to-Sky Corridor artists for their artistic achievements. Each award also carried a $1,000 prize.

Originally from Ontario, photographer and visual artist Alison Hodson moved to Whistler after studying graphic design, material arts and photography at the Ontario College of Art & Design. Today, her work features an innovative mix of mediums, combining elements of photography on canvas with the abstract, textural qualities of fabric. The process of removing areas of the original image and building layers upon layers of fabrics and threads to recreate the scene is extremely labour-intensive, but the results are remarkably seamless. Her work will again be on display at Pasta Lupino as part of WAC's ArtWalk events later this summer.

"It feels amazing to be recognized by the community which I now call 'home,'" Hodson said. "I'm honoured to be chosen among so many talented artists in the Sea to Sky Corridor. It's very exciting and I'm very grateful."

As part of the award, Hodson will also receive a curated gallery show in a Vancouver art gallery and Whistler's Scotia Creek Gallery at MY Millennium Place. She will use her prize money for supplies for upcoming pieces and to buy a part for her sewing machine.

Angela Teng is originally from Victoria, but has called Whistler home for almost 10 years. She is currently working toward a Bachelor of Fine Art degree at Emily Carr University of Art + Design after having attended the Visual Arts Program at Camosun College. Teng focuses on painting and sculpture, but also works in photography, printmaking and ceramics. Her subject matter ranges from everyday objects and people to situations, juxtaposed with the use of medium, scale, form, colour and composition, and borrowing compositional elements from children's drawings.

Hodson and Teng were selected for the awards based on the quality of their body of work and a range of other criteria, including the intention behind the work, the effectiveness of their artistic practice, the impact of the art, and the contribution the work makes to the development of the artist, the art form and the arts in general.

"I am so proud that the Whistler Arts Council is finally able to publicly recognize and acknowledge the creative achievements of the very talented artists who reside and work in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor," Joan Richoz, chair of the Whistler Arts Council board of directors, said in a recent release.

"I am especially grateful to La Bocca Restaurant and the Arts and Culture Legacy Fund for providing the funding required to offer these awards of excellence and for the opportunity to show their work in curated exhibitions."

Summer of Funny, part II

Sure, you can write, but can you also use the written word to make people laugh? Pick up a pen and paper and show Whistler what you've got by entering the second annual Summer of Funny humour-writing contest sponsored by Pique Newsmagazine.

The inaugural competition in '09 yielded so many quality submissions that Pique staffers simply couldn't agree on a clear winner. So, the powers that be decided to divide the $400 prize purse among the eight entries that stood out from the pack. And since none of the writers complained, Pique has decided to give the contest another whirl this year. The rules are the same - all written submissions will be accepted, from anywhere in Canada, and can be in the form of stories (up to 2,000 words), poems, plays/scripts, or long-format jokes. We'd even accept cartoons.

The prize money will be the same, as will the review by Pique writers and staff. If there is a clear winner this year they may receive a larger share of the purse at our discretion, otherwise we may decide to simply run a wide selection of pieces this year and divvy up the prize money equally. Humour is subjective after all and we'd like to give our readers a chance to decide.

Send all entries to before Monday, Aug. 23 for inclusion in our Labour Day long weekend issue. Please include a brief biography and mailing address with your submission.


Road trip to 2010 Birkenstock

This coming weekend Gates Lake will be rocking with laughter and good tunes as the Birken Lakeside Resort plays host to the second annual Birkenstock festival.

The event features the comedic stylings of Daryl Makk, James Moore and Lauren McGibbon.

Makk performs at comedy clubs across Canada, the U.S., U.K. and Australia, has a one-hour "Comedy Now" special on CBC, has entertained crowds at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal and rocked the Melbourne Comedy Fest in Australia. Moore plays shows across North America, founded the longest running open mic Comedy Monday Night in Calgary, and has appeared on CBC's "So You Think You're Funny." Last, but not least, funny lady Lauren McGibbon has been keeping the crowd at Vancouver's Yuk Yuks and Lafflines Comedy Clubs in stitches.

On top of the comedic offerings, the Wrecking Crew band returns to keep the crowds dancing, as Sea to Sky's entertainers Karen Fowlie, Donna Newsom and Christie McPhee join the party. They'll also be hosting a special Producers' Forum, featuring Steven Drake, one of Canada's top record producers (The Odds and The Tragically Hip.)

The event runs from Friday, June 11 to Sunday, June 13, with feature comedians and live music taking the stage on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and an open mic session hosted by Fowlie held from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. The Birken Lakeside Resort is located on Gates Lake just 55 kilometres north of Whistler, and tickets are just $20. For more information, visit or call 604-452-3255.