Upping Whistler’s art factor 

Checking in on the community’s public arts projects

This summer, Whistler was due to see a sudden influx of public art because some of the bigger projects in 2008, like the Bridgehead Project on the Ted Nebbeling pedestrian bridge and the 2008 village sculpture, didn't come together as expected.

Now, the four basalt sculptures that were created by artist Patrick Sullivan to perch on the corners of the pedestrian bridge have been installed in front of the Whistler Public Library.

"It's really quite a tactile experience - it's carved on all sides, so having it up high and out of the reach of people seemed like an odd thing," explained Kevin McFarland parks planner for the RMOW and chair of the Public Art Committee. "It's also larger than probably fits those podiums."

Now, at the library plaza, people can see all sides of the four-foot pieces, and learn more about the inspiration behind the pieces.

"There are four artists that have inspired (Sullivan's) career; these actually represent those artists," McFarland said. "So there's an interesting connection for folks to learn about that and even go to the library and find out about those artists."

Sullivan will officially unveil the pieces at a ceremony on Saturday, July 18.

Unfortunately, the bronze-cast bear sculpture crafted by Mike Tyler has again been delayed, as the artist is recovered from "a significant injury."

McFarland is still hoping that the piece may be completed and installed by October, then moved to the village lawn, where it is to remain with the other pieces in the collection.

"He's very anxious to have this exhibited in Village Square," McFarland added.

Commissions for projects within the village, like the Village Square and Bridgeheads projects, run from $20,000 to $30,000 to cover artist and design fees, plus other associated costs. That money comes from the Village Enhancement Strategy, an initiative that is funded through the hotel tax. The Valley Trail projects come from general tax revenue and carry a $20,000 commission, though there are no plans for a 2009 phase of this project.

Two local artists, Daniel Poisson and Corinna Haight, recently completed the second bridge mural project on the Blackcomb Way Bridge underpass. Entitled, "Full Circle," the vibrant mural depicts the natural world starting from the highest peaks, descending to the depths of the ocean, and ascending once again.

"It certainly improved, in our opinion, that public space," McFarland said.

There are also some exciting new projects in the works.

Look up next time you're in the village, and you're likely to see one of Toni Lewis's new street banners, which illustrate four Whistler summer activities.

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