The return of an artful stroll through Whistler 

What: ArtWalk opening

When: Friday, July 3, 6:30 p.m.

Where: TD Canada Trust/Whistler Real Estate Company

Cost: Free

Anyone familiar with the Whistler arts scene is all too aware that the community is lacking a public space for artists to display their work. It's not a new problem. But a few years back, the Whistler Arts Council decided to take matters into its own hands, hosting a special summertime event that saw the arts and business communities working together to promote one another.

"Basically, it started because there was no public art gallery in Whistler and the Arts Council wanted to find a place for artists to showcase their work," Ali Richmond, spokesperson for WAC, explained.

They simply reached out to the local businesses, asking them to display local artwork that fit with their d├ęcor. The art ranges from conventional mediums and subject matter, like watercolour landscapes, to more underground work with an edgier, urban feel.

"There is something for everybody," Richmond said.

The concept seems to be working. When ArtWalk was launched in 2004, it was only one month long, featuring 18 artists in 17 venues. Today, it has grown to include 71 Sea to Sky artists at 40 venues.

"I think definitely each year we seem to get more and more artists and more venues coming on," Richmond said. "...Which is always good to see, because it means that we're not attracting the same artists and venues every year, it's actually getting through to the community."

The end result has been a win-win situation for artists and business owners alike as the artwork draws people into cafes, restaurants and retail spaces throughout town while showcasing the talents of local artists.

"It's an event that attracts visitors and locals," Richmond said.

It's not a huge sales event, though pieces are sold throughout the summer. Most artists are hoping to gain exposure.

"We see a lot of new artists coming out so I think it's sort of a great way for artists to come out of the closet. It might be their first event where they've actually shown their work," Richmond said.

Lots of local artists like Joan Baron and Ruth Johnson have participated for multiple years while others, like Moira Duff, are newcomers to the ArtWalk scene.

Also, Transitions Space Gallery, which is an artist-run local gallery managed by Andrea Mueller, has joined the event this year, hosting 13 of the participating artists in their space behind Marketplace. MY Millennium Place will host a photography exhibit, rather than its traditional landscape paintings.

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