Market gypsy no more 

The new Mark Richards Gallery opens on Art Gallery Row as part of ArtWalk opening celebrations


By Nicole Fitzgerald

What: ArtWalk Opening Reception

When: Friday, June 29, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Whistler Village

Admission: Free

It’s Sunday, but artist Mark Richards isn’t packing up his image collection to the Whistler Farmer’s Market.

His roving art gallery will no longer live in the back and front seats of his Jeep. Images will no longer be damaged in the setup and tear down of his white-tent housing, nor will he pitch to market-goers more interested in veggie browsing than art buying.

A market resident no more, the former city boy, who gave up a high-paying corporate job to pursue a passion in photography and art only a year and a half ago, has now found a home for both himself and his art at the newly-opened Mark Richards Gallery on Art Gallery Row at the Hilton Whistler Resort.

Richards is officially opening his gallery doors in conjunction with ArtWalk’s opening receptions Friday, June 29, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

“It is surreal,” Richards said of opening his gallery. “But to put it in perspective, as much as I loved the farmer’s market, it is so nice to unlock a door and have everything ready and hanging rather than carrying it around.”

Already Richards has begun selling works: massive glowing images of Whistler’s great outdoors, even though his doors are not officially open.

The brown paper veil couldn’t keep passersby’s curiosity out; the studio posters displaying four of his images on the cloaked glass front led to inquiries, sales and, most importantly, a unique venture into a Whistler more vibrant and soulful than ever.

The photographer uses a unique process, removing a layer of detail from the image while at the same time enhancing other aspects, so that the onlooker is unsure whether they are admiring a photograph or a painting. Each work is an original.

Images of craggy mountains, feathered clouds and regal forests seemingly glow with this unique treatment he learned from his father — the former curator of the National Gallery of Canada and current owner of the Montague Gallery in Nova Scotia.

His father couldn’t be prouder. Richards is following in his footsteps, and vice versa. Earlier this year, a couple visited the Nova Scotia gallery commenting on an image they bought the previous summer in Whistler. The couple now hangs Richards’s West Coast work on one wall and his father’s East Coast work on the other.

“It is such a privilege that people have our work hanging in their home,” Richards said. “I am going to keep building my collection, so it becomes the nicest presentation of West Coast landscape. I want to represent the West Coast because that is why people come here. People find paintings, but it maybe of France or Helsinki, and they are just not able to connect to it. Having a local flavour adds to the memento side of things. For me if I can get the local support then I think I have succeeded. My work isn’t just for tourists.”

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