New strokes for TWSSF 

State of the Art exhibition returns to original roots of ski, snowboard culture

click to enlarge Twisted tree Darren Camplin is just one of many artists with local ties participating in TWSSF’s annual art exhibition, which has been renamed for 2009.
  • Twisted tree Darren Camplin is just one of many artists with local ties participating in TWSSF’s annual art exhibition, which has been renamed for 2009.

The 10 fun-filled days of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival are a transformative time for Whistler: Stages are set up throughout the village, the stroll is bustling with promo people, and the hills come alive with competitors and spectators, all eager to catch the last big air of the season.

Even within the confines of a space like the Telus Whistler Conference Centre, big changes are taking place, as once barren and neutral walls are adorned with bright, edgy artwork, as part of the new State of the Art event.

Kerry Chalmers is the visual arts manager for Watermark Communications, the company that organizes Whistler's ever-popular Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. Chalmers has been involved in the festival for four years, but this year, is tackling a whole new challenge for the event: The festival's art gallery.

Formerly known as Brave Art, an outside company used to produce this nine-day exhibit. But this year, Watermark is taking the reins, organizing a new show entitled, State of the Art.

"There were a few different reasons for the shift. I would say, first and foremost... it was time for something new," Chalmers said. "The Ski and Snowboard Festival is about pushing the boundaries, it's about checking out what's new and different and edgy and cool."

The change has allowed Watermark to reconnect the event to the entire roster of TWSSF, bringing it back to the true roots of the festival: music, sport and art.

"When it was produced by the Brave Art team, it came, it arrived, it was successful and then it left," Chalmers said. "But with State of the Art, it's been produced within the context and minds of all team members at the Watermark office."

The artistic focus has also shifted, moving from street and urban art to a widened scope of work by individual artists, companies and brands involved in the ski, snowboard, skate, and surf industries. The show will feature new and established names from the art scene, showcasing over 35 artists in a 150-plus-piece installation that includes canvas, sculpture, photography and graffiti.

"We were aiming to produce a show that was relevant to the festival as a whole and celebrated the art and lifestyle of the festival," Chalmers said.

Westbeach, Endeavour and Sitka brands will be creating exhibits at State of the Art to showcase the artistic process within their own realms. Sitka will explore the art of shaping a surfboard; Westbeach has a 30-year retrospective of the snowboarding industry planned through more traditional mediums, like photography.

Watermark also wanted to see some fresh faces in the show, so they issued an open call for submissions, requiring even returning participants to submit a resume, an artist's statement or bio, along with samples of their work, so organizers could level the playing field and evaluate everyone based on the same criteria.

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