A truly scenic stroll 

Fifth annual ArtWalk kicks off on Canada Day

click to enlarge Artwalk '07 ArtWalk participant Sally Reid poses with a painting during last year's event. Photo by Andy Dittrich, wpnn.org
  • Artwalk '07 ArtWalk participant Sally Reid poses with a painting during last year's event. Photo by Andy Dittrich, wpnn.org

Whether you’re new to the area, just visiting, or are simply interested in checking out some local talent, Whistler’s annual ArtWalk is the perfect crash course in the visual arts.

ArtWalk is a self-guided walking tour that takes art lovers to stores, bars, restaurants and art galleries throughout the village to check out a wide range of works by local artists. ArtWalk runs from July 1 until Aug. 31, is free of charge and is open to all members of the public.

Traci Despatis is the events manager for the Whistler Arts Council, the group that organizes ArtWalk.

“This year we actually had so many high quality artists and not enough venues that we had to jury artists into Millennium Place this year, so it was great!” she said. The arts council ended up accepting 12 artists to exhibit in Millennium Place.

The artists lineup this year is unique and eclectic, with everything from the portraits by Cary Campbell Lopes on display at Lily Cosmetic Boutique, to the funky, vibrant drawings and paintings of Taka (TifDyl) Sudo.

Organizers have added a few new venues to the event, as well. The Wild Wood, two new galleries in the Westin, the Tantalus Lodge, and the Whistler Golf Course are all participating in the 2008 ArtWalk.

Despatis said it’s not exactly hard to get local businesses to agree to participate in ArtWalk — it’s free décor for their storefront, and they get to select which pieces fit their business best. A lot of the businesses also develop working relationships with the artists who exhibit in their space during ArtWalk, and ultimately decide to keep the work hanging up year-round.

So, local businesses get temporary artwork and more foot traffic, while artists get a space to exhibit their work.

“It’s not only to showcase all of our local Sea to Sky artists in venues outside of… galleries, but also to help them promote and sell their artwork,” said Despatis.

This year, the arts council will be focusing on helping with the commercial side of things. Volunteers will be on-hand to help sell artwork and educate the full-time staff at each venue so they will be able to answer questions from customers and visitors during the entire two months of ArtWalk.

“We’re actually going to be adding art curators to each of the opening reception locations, or at least as many of them as we can, so that we have people on-site that are knowledgeable with the artists that happen to be in the venues.”

Despatis said WAC has wanted to make this change for a few years, and the opportunity finally presented itself.

This year, they’ve also made a slight change to the opening receptions by breaking them up, holding one near the beginning, on Friday, July 4, and another at the mid-way point, on Friday, Aug. 1.

“We just found that last year, it was really spread out, and there seemed to be those couple of places that people congregated, but it was really hard to really tour all the venues in one evening,” Despatis explained. “So what we decided to do is actually split the village up, kind of condense it a bit more, therefore allowing people to get through all of the venues and be able to drop by all of the opening receptions.”

With over 27 venues featuring the work of 50 artists, its easy to see how only one night of opening celebrations could get a bit chaotic.

So, the first 13 venues will host receptions on July 4, with the remaining 14 venues hosting events on Aug. 1, but all of the artwork will be on display in each of the 27 designated venues for the duration of ArtWalk.

The change is designed to allow organizers to maintain the momentum and enthusiasm of the event by giving them an opportunity to re-promote ArtWalk halfway through, and keep it in the forefront of people’s minds.

ArtWalk starts with the first venue, also the title sponsor of ArtWalk, Whistler Real Estate Company, featuring the work of Joan Baron, and works through the village from Marketplace to Town Plaza, then from the village common to the upper village.

The self-guided walking tour brochure will be available again this year, which makes it easy for people to see the vast array of local talent Whistler has on offer. There are also a few local artists who can offer guided tours to larger groups who book in advance.

For a full list of venues and artists participating in ArtWalk, visit www.whistlerartscouncil.com .

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