Twenty-two years young 

22nd Annual Children’s Art Festival

What: 22 nd Annual Children’s Art Festival

Where: Myrtle Philip Community School

When: May 29-30

Workshop Prices: $5 - $10

Almost as long as there has been an Arts Council in Whistler, there has been a Children’s Art Festival.

Now in its 22 nd year, the festival is hardly young anymore. It’s matured quite nicely into a vibrant, integral part of the Whistler community.

It’s unique in that it’s the only festival around these parts where the word "tourism" never even comes up. Rather, it remains focused on its niche as an event by the local artists and artisans for the local artists and artisans of the future.

This year’s festival workshop lineup continues the proud tradition: photography, kite-making, painting, carving, percussion, mask-making, landscape art, scratch art, magic, balloons and fairy houses, turtles and butterflies, Japanese t-shirt painting and of course, drawing, will be taught by a talented roster of artists from throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor.

Whistler artist and jewelry-maker Amanda Lye is back for her second year, offering a session in crosshatch-style pen and ink transfer art.

"I just think it’s good to hang out with kids, to teach them something different," said Lye, adding, "they usually teach you something."

If that’s the case, Isobel MacLaurin has learned plenty from Whistler’s kids in the years she has been associated with the festival.

MacLaurin was there for the first event in 1983 teaching basic drawing of local wildlife. The kids that took that seminar are old enough now to have festival-going kids of their own, and should they wish, their youngsters can learn the same basic techniques from the gregarious local painter this year.

Exempting years when she’s been out of the country, MacLaurin says she would never even consider missing the opportunity to contribute her artistic knowledge.

"I get so excited when kids are excited!" she gushes. "It flows; there’s no way of stopping it. When they leave, I want them to look at flowers, trees, with a new life."

Despite the radical transformation of Whistler over the past two decades, Whistler kids, she says, have stayed pretty much the same, requesting tips on how to draw bears, mostly.

She’s even seen firsthand how that enthusiasm can extend into adulthood. On a 1994 visit to the National Art Gallery in Ottawa she was tentatively approached by a young adult who inquired if she was "Isobel MacLaurin, the artist from Whistler."

She answered yes, indeed she was to which the gallery visitor replied:

"You taught me how to draw a raccoon in the Children’s Art Festival!"

All the accolades and local honours and she’s remembered for a raccoon. Judging from her exuberance as she recounts the tale, MacLaurin wouldn’t have it any other way.

A new crop of local kids can join the fun and make lifelong impressions this Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30. The festival is headquartered out of Myrtle Philip Community School, and organized by the Whistler Arts Council. Pre-registration takes place May 25 — 27 from 2 — 5 p.m. through the Arts Council office at MY Place. Participants may also register the day of in the lounge at the school. Workshops range in price from $5 to $10.

The Festival is still seeking volunteers for workshop assistants and to help with set-up and takedown.

A complete schedule of workshops is available on line at www.whistlerartscouncil.com. For more information call 604-935-8419.

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