ArtWalk interest grows in year two 

Event matches businesses with regional artists and artisans for the month of July

The 2nd annual Whistler ArtWalk, a month-long mapped tour of exhibitions by Whistler and regional artists in various Village businesses, wrapped up officially last weekend with several signs indicating that the event continues to grow.

Whistler Arts Council director Doti Niedermayer said she felt this year’s ArtWalk went "really well."

"We had to print more brochures and that’s always a good sign," Niedermayer said.

ArtWalk was bigger this year right from the start with 27 host venues on board, up from last year’s 17. A collaborative ‘ArtWalk Eclectika’ show in the community gallery space at Millennium Place, venue No. 17 on the official ArtWalk tour, also allowed for a greater number of artists to be involved.

Niedermayer said the Arts Council printed 10,000 brochures for the July event. She compared the amount to the 20,000 brochures that the Arts Council prints in total over the course of a year that show a general art tour of Whistler’s galleries and public art pieces.

"As the event grows and people learn about it they realize it is a benefit to be involved," she added. "They see people walking around with the ArtWalk brochures and they want to be involved."

With the benefit of last year’s experience under its belt, the Arts Council was better prepared to assert how much display space the host venues were expected to provide.

"That was a learning year to realize for the artists to be showcased, when you walk into a business you have to see it; it can’t be hidden," Niedermayer said. "So we cleaned that up from last year."

Niedermayer didn’t yet have sales totals from the ArtWalk – the Arts Council takes 10 per cent of ArtWalk-related sales for brochure printing and event marketing – but she said it appeared the artists placed in traditional gallery venues had the most success due to the staff being better equipped to sell artwork.

Several new permanent artist-venue relationships have come out of ArtWalk. Photographer Bruce Rowles will continue to showcase at the Hot Box Internet Café.

Duane Perrett, a glass artist with a studio in Function Junction said he didn’t make any ArtWalk-related sales through his host venue, the West Coast Gallery at the Pan Pacific Hotel, however, the classy gallery has agreed to continue to represent his work.

"It was great exposure and I got a lot of input," Perrett said. He added he would have been equally happy in a non-traditional gallery venue, which he said requires a different approach such as Sharon Jensen’s framed information sheet at her ongoing display at the CyberWeb Internet Café in the absence of the trained gallery staff.

One thing Perrett said he would change for next year is a description of the media each artist works in along with their name in the brochure to allow tour-takers to target certain venues based on their interests.

Painter Dave Petko a.k.a. Pepe, didn’t have anything up for sale at his Comor Sports venue and said while he got a lot of interest on the event’s July 8 opening night, which proceeded as concurrent receptions in all venues, he didn’t really hear much for the remainder of the month. He said he didn’t feel the ArtWalk exhibition made much of an impact, as opposed to events such as ArtRageous where the art, not the shopping is the focus.

Niedermayer said ArtWalk in general had the strongest interest in the first two weeks. Interest increased during the July 22-24 weekend due to inclusion in the lineup of events at Tourism Whistler’s Whistler Music and Arts Festival.

Niedermayer also said there are several ideas on the table for next year’s event including a Function Junction studio tour, and possibly creating a tour in Pemberton.

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