Whistler Village Artwalk: The Art of Meandering
There are no right angles on a map of Whistler Village. And that is the way it’s supposed to be, the cobblestoned streets were specifically designed to facilitate wandering and a sense of discovery.
In the 1970s, the newly-formed Resort Municipalty of Whistler began building a new Village at the spot where Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains converged (it had previously been a garbage dump!). Initial plans were laid out on a standard grid of blocks and streets but these were abandoned when Whistler pioneer Al Raine met with American landscape architect Eldon Beck in 1978.
Beck came to Whistler and spent a lot of time walking the land, examining sightlines and the path of sunlight. His vision was to create a pedestrian-only “Village in the forest” that emphasized nature, sunlight, mountain views and sense of discovery.
Over 35 years later, Beck’s concepts have been so successful that Whistler Village has essentially become the resort industry standard, a place where locals and guests intermingle for après, shopping, dining or to take in festivals and events like the free summer concert series.
But few events encapsulate the concept and scope of Whistler Village as well as Artwalk. Running right through until August 31, 2015, Artwalk pairs over sixty local artists with local businesses to create more than 40 pop-up art galleries throughout the meandering strolls and streets of Whistler Village.
“Artwalk is really good for everyone,” says local artist Vanessa Stark. “Its great exposure for us, it’s great to have people coming by all the participating businesses, and all the art just makes the Village more interesting.”
Village stollers and spectators recently crowned Vanessa the champion of Whistler’s annual Paint-Off, a two-day event that saw 10 artists painting live before an audience in Whistler Village. “It’s cool to be more interactive and have people watch as you create a painting,” she says. “Kids come up and ask questions and it’s great for people to see art being created in that setting. I just have to paint a lot faster than normal…”
LEFT: Artwalk opening gala. SEAN ST DENIS PHOTO. RIGHT: Vanessa Stark and her winning Whistler Paint-Off Piece.
While most Artwalk venues feature completed work only, there is a new pop-up artists studio space in the Westin Whistler Resort. Works in progress can also be seen Fathom Stone Gallery, James Stewart Sculpture Gallery and Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont Whistler.
Artwalk is hosted by the Whistler Arts Council and based out of Millennium Place where anyone can stop in to grab an Artwalk guide and venue map (check out The Gallery upstairs). Art lovers are also tagging their photos on social media with an #artwalk2015 hastag.
With 60+ pop-ups and a handful of established galleries, Artwalk is as good an excuse to get lost in Whistler Village as any. Patio hopping is another, and if you need some more check out this Whistler Village video.
To learn more about Eldon Beck and Whistler Village history check out this article from the Museum & Archives. Find art related tour maps here, and as always the place to go for anything related to whistler is Whistler.com.