Alta States 

Michèle Bush: An artist in a strange land

click to enlarge Michele Bush
  • Michele Bush

Where do I start? The farting rock? The pug wedding? Or the Bushwoman chronicles? Hysterical Glamour or Home On Deranged? And what about her artist/prodigy of a twin brother and the rest of her ever-so-slightly-eccentric theatrical family? What about the night she turned on the radio while driving up the canyon and listened to her new Whistler job go up in smoke (literally)? Or the year she spent running away to the circus? Or her venture into hand-painted underwear? Or her plans for home-delivered dinner theatre at Whistler…

How do I encapsulate such a bold sweep of a life? How do I do justice to this swath of bright colour splashed on Whistler’s social canvas? Painter, writer, actor, comedienne, designer, retailer, producer, innovator, director — and not a bad cook/bartender to boot — Michèle Bush is an imaginative storm unto herself. Indeed, her story defies a nicely laid-out, linear treatment. And she would be terribly disappointed if I tried…

So I won’t. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

People push their limits here all the time. It’s part of the Whistler style. Go hard, risk big and never show them you’re hurting. But “pushing limits” around here usually assumes some kind of athletic pursuit. Not so with Michèle Bush.

“I didn’t come here to ski,” she says, in that world-weary, been-there-done-that delivery of hers (in which I always feel there’s a punchline waiting to be delivered). “You see I’m not very sporty.” At this self-evident observation, she lets out a faux-giggle. And suddenly she’s channelling her cigarette-and-martini cougar archetype. “But you know darling, I felt I just had to move here,” she purrs. ”For deep in my heart, I knew Whistler needed a village idiot.”

That was back in 1980. Now nearly three decades later, she is a Whistler icon — a creative catalyst that inspires locals and visitors to take a walk on the wilder side of their imaginations.

Don’t get me wrong. It‘s not like she’s the only artistic type around. After all, Whistler is quickly earning a reputation with artsy types for the burgeoning scene here. It’s just that Michèle lives that life so fully — and has done so with very little compromise for so long — that I can’t help but feel that she’s had a bigger hand to play than most in establishing this place as something more than just another ski town.

And she’s still pushing hard. “I have so many good ideas,” she moans. “If only I could find a marketer-millionaire who would underwrite my efforts, I know it could be a very lucrative thing. So if you’re reading this, give me a call. I’m in the book!”

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