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When words are not enough

Painter Debra MacArthur hosts inaugural exhibit, an ode to Whistler's outdoors
I wanted to remind people of all the wonderful places we can get to with just a little bit of effort - Debra MacArthur

What: My Whistler, My Home exhibit opening party

When: Sunday, Sept. 3, 1-3 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Admission: Free

Sometimes in the rush of work, home and friends, often an outdoor excursion is put off. Maybe next week I’ll tackle Wedge Mountain, or the weekend after that paddle the Ashlu River.

However, in between daylong hikes and class five rapids there are other peaks to climb, to ride. None that require a 50-pound pack strapped to your back, but within a five minute drive or wander off the tire track Whistler wields these quickly accessible outdoor rushes: maybe a lazy paddle down the River of Golden Dreams or a leisurely stroll around Lost Lake Park.

You don’t need to be an adrenaline junkie nor does your schedule need a wide-open space.

This is the sentiment behind painter Debra MacArthur’s inaugural exhibit, called My Whistler, My Home, showing for the month of September at the MY Millennium Place art gallery. An opening reception Sunday, Sept. 3 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the gallery, located in the upstairs foyer, will celebrate her work and the artist will be on hand to discuss her paintings.

"I wanted to remind people of all the wonderful places we can get to with just a little bit of effort," MacArthur says of her exhibit. "I wanted to do a series of pieces of places that were easy to get to, but you don’t have to be an extreme hiker or skier to get there, but you also can’t drive there…. That is an important message for the exhibit. All you have to do is get out of your car and go for an easy hike, do the River of Golden Dreams, go up to Callaghan Lake and see what it is like up there. It is always there for us to see and enjoy and I want to remind people of that."

MacArthur’s series of large and small acrylics will remind people of just that, with images dedicated to capturing these off-road moments.

The weekend warrior of 25 years and now full-time Whistler resident of 13 years has always been in awe of the wild West Coast. After the London, Ontario native moved to the Lower Mainland, she soon began her Whistler love affair. Now her muse, Whistler plays out in the landscape artist’s dedication to depicting everyday scenes, experiences and objects found in Whistler.

"Being in Whistler is what inspired me to paint what I paint," she says. "I travel to other places and start a piece but I never finish it. I love painting trees, mountains and the water – Whistler. We have that around us everyday."

From her hikes, paddles and skiing, MacArthur brings home photographs of her experience and then turns from the shutter release to a paintbrush to recreate what she calls "realistic" works.

McArthur is an active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) and has honed her skills through numerous workshops offered through the Vancouver Academy of Art and the FCA. She also studied with respected artists such as Robert Genn, David Langevin and Mike Svob, among others. She showed in the Whistler Arts Council’s ArtWalk and her work called Welcome, a depiction of the Inukshuk atop Whistler Mountain, was presented to the 2006 recipient of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce Business and the Arts Award.

MacArthur is sure Whistler will inspire her work for years to come.

"Every time I go out, I truly say to myself I am just so lucky to live here," she says of her outings. "It is just so incredible. The air is good. The people are wonderful. The community here is so well meaning and caring and tight. It’s where I want to be and where I want to always come back to and it is like that 12 months of the year. Whistler is just so special. It’s hard to put into words how I feel."

So instead, witness her feelings through paint.