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Finding abstract inspiration in the mountains

Dan Campbell talks about impact Art + Soul can have on local artists
bright spot One of Dan Campbell's pieces from this year's Art + Soul exhibit. photo submitted

The Art + Soul exhibit at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival might have come and gone for another year, but for many artists, its impact can be lasting.

Take Dan Campbell for example. In the last year, the long-time Sea to Sky resident spent most of the time he had carved out for art on commissions—largely pieces incorporating mountains. But when he learned that the exhibit—formerly called State of the Art—would be returning and he had been accepted for a third year, Campbell decided to put together a display of abstract paintings.

"Obviously I'm inspired by the mountains, but lately I've been more inspired to do abstract stuff," he says. "You want to do things people will like, but this one was a bit different; I was doing my own thing. I wasn't doing it for anyone else."

The festival came together in a shorter timeframe this year when Whistler Blackcomb and Gibbons Whistler banded together to produce it after Watermark Communications Inc. stepped down from the role after 11 years.

That meant artists had about six weeks to put their pieces together. For his part, Campbell decided to display a large painting he had completed of several thick lines converging into a bright circle. As well, he set to work crafting another piece with four tiles. They feature a wooden frame with sharp, colourful angles jutting out.

"I struggle to be able to work on more than once piece at a time," Campbell says. "It was sort of like more than one piece, but it was four pieces. I thought it'd be good to come up with a piece that required more than one step to try and motivate myself to figure that process (of working on more than one piece at a time) out."

That fits with his overall approach to art. Entirely self-taught, Campbell has been painting on and off since childhood, but it wasn't until moving to Whistler that he began to pick it up again. Three years ago, he gathered his courage and showed his art in public for the first time at State of the Art.

"I don't know if I'd be doing art if I wasn't here," he says. "It was relatively easy once I gave myself a kick in the pants to get to work—it wasn't long until I felt support in the community. It's a great place for that."

Other more established local artists have been supportive too, he adds. "It didn't take me very long at all before other artists in the community were supporting me," he says. "Andrea Mueller is a good buddy of mine and she was a big one with encouragement. She's a super talented artist, so that was a big one. There's a super rich and strong art community in the Sea to Sky. It's inspiring, for one thing, to see how much good local art is around."

To see more of Campbell's work find him on Instagram at dancampbellart.