Whistler believes in fairies 

Artists Cary and Paulo Lopes prefer walking, even flying artworks

click to enlarge Sparkling Talent Artist Cary Lopes applies the finishing sparkle to her faery creation at Esquires coffee shop as part of ArtWalk celebrations continuing until the end of August. Photo by Nicole Fitzgerald.
  • Sparkling Talent Artist Cary Lopes applies the finishing sparkle to her faery creation at Esquires coffee shop as part of ArtWalk celebrations continuing until the end of August. Photo by Nicole Fitzgerald.

If enough people believe in fairies, Peter Pan told Tinkerbell, their twinkling wings live on.

And judging by six-year-old Sarah Kolvek’s expression — her mouth agape and eyes wide — fairies do exist in Whistler, or at least at Esquires coffee shop for one magical night.

Sarah holds up a blow dryer to model Stephanie Hubbard, only she isn’t drying her hair or even the sparkling wings Stephanie dons behind her. Sarah is drying the airbrush paint Paulo Lopes is applying to the Whistler model, slowly being transformed from her merely human shape to a more winged, garden variety. Once the airbrush paint is dry, Cary Lopes takes over with paint and brush.

The live art exhibition is part of the ArtWalk celebrations until the end of August. Coffee shops, along with hotels, restaurants and retail outlets offer up blank walls to showcase local artwork. Self-guided, walking tour maps of all participating ArtWalk host galleries are available at Whistler information centres.

A crowd of young and old gathers around the live art transformation at the local java joint. Stephanie wears a petal tutu as well as garlands wrapped around her head and limbs, the rest of her skin is adorned by paint.

“It’s my last night at Esquires,” says the coffee shop girl, now a member of the fairy folk. “I am going to UVic (University of Victoria) this fall.”

And what would this woodland sprite be studying?

“Environmental science,” she says, laughing at her very appropriate fairy farewell. “I’ve always wanted to be one.”

Like every other little girl in the world, getting the chance to dance into the magic of Mother Nature in all her sparkling glory was a dream come true. But not only did Stephanie transform into a fairy, she was a living, breathing work of art.

Cary and Paulo first dipped their brushes into body painting when a friend asked the two to paint a tuxedo (complete with six pack) onto his upper torso for the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s famous Black Tie Loonie Race and gala. Body painting a dozen women for the Bearfoot Bistro’s Masquerave and half a dozen men for Cornucopia’s Women and Wine event followed, and since then the husband and wife duo have never looked at a blank canvas in the same way.

“I did a lot of straight body painting, but then I started adding costumes and little bits to make it more pleasing,” Cary says as she applies a sparkle finish to Stephanie’s lips.

Cary and Paulo allow audiences to watch the artistic process from finish to start. All of a model’s appropriate body parts are covered either with craft embellishments, costume or latex. A base paint cover is then applied before the model is brought into the public spotlight.

“Our aim is to do this tastefully; there is no need for full nakedness,” Cary explains. “I want kids to be able to watch. It’s about the art.”

At Esquires, everyone from tots to grandparents watched over steaming mugs of tea and hot chocolate as Stephanie shapeshifted into a fairy. Last month, Cary and Paulo created a mermaid for the ArtWalk opening gala. They also recently painted at a RE/MAX open house party.

“Some of the guests were in their 50s and 60s and I thought they didn’t like it because they were staring so quietly,” Cary said. “Then they asked how I did something and I realized they were having a great time.”

Images from other body painting exhibits are on display daily at Esquires until the end of August.

Cary is a schooled painter, working mainly in acrylic and canvas in the past, with her artwork hung in galleries and homes. Paulo’s airbrushing usually focuses on mechanical bodywork, such as cars and motorbikes. However, the two find the human canvas the most exciting.

“I’ve done a lot of art, but most of it is leaning against the wall and this is out and roving around,” said Cary.

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