“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and mind alike.” John Muir.
Art is synonymous with the mountains, a place that provides an abundance of natural beauty for inspiration, but also a calmness and peace that helps the mind wander.
Whistler is home to a number of art galleries, displaying work from local talent to the wider Canadian art pool and international artists whose work resonates with curators. One way to explore these galleries is to join a Whistler Wine Walk, which happen every Friday in October. Not only do you get to connect with gallery owners, curators and artists, but you also get to do so with a glass of wine in hand.
To keep everyone safe this season, there are two newly curated routes, one in Whistler Village ($15) which takes you to three different locations, and one in the Upper Village that leads you to two ($10). Included in the ticket price are locally inspired canapés, a BC wine tasting (from the likes of Hester Creek, See Ya Later Ranch, Nk’ Mip, Blasted Church, Sandhill, Cedar Creek and Tinhorn Creek) and an interactive art experience, like a live artist demonstration and a sneak peek at artwork from a hidden museum vault.
The experience lasts around an hour to an hour and a half, with 15 – 20 minutes allotted to each venue and walking time taken into consideration. It’s the perfect evening activity before or after dinner, given that the staggered start times are from 5 – 7 PM.
Upper Village Wine Walk
The self-guided walking tour of Whistler’s Upper Village begins at Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where the focus is on post-war Canadian landscape art. Mountain vistas, lush forests and winding rivers pepper the walls. The gallery is also home to some incredible pieces of sculpture with serpentine stone bears, bronze eagles and intriguing wood and resin furniture. It’s really a treasure trove of Canadian art that takes time to explore.
Andrea Moore, Doria Moodie and Corrinne Wolcoski are amongst the artists they have lined up for live art demonstrations, and they’ll be gifting Wine Walk participants with an exclusive private edition print when they visit.
From there, the route takes you across Blackcomb Way to the Itsken Hall at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, who are hosting their first-ever feature artist exhibition, called Sqātsza7 Tmicw – Father Land. It displays the multi-disciplinary artwork of Ed Archie NoiseCat, who’s returning to his father’s traditional territory after spending time in the US.
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NoiseCat grew up in British Columbia’s remote, mountainous interior with his mother’s people, the Canim Lake Band of Shuswap Indians, drawing inspiration from his mother’s plateau culture and his father’s people, the Lil’wat. He trained as a master printmaker at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and then gained experience as a fine art lithographer in New York before beginning his exploration of traditional carving, including mastering glass and jewellery.
“My work is inspired by the stories that comprise my life — the people, tricksters, tragedies and triumphs of the Indigenous experience.”
The SLCC’s Thunderbird Cafe will be serving indigenous wine and fare, including West Coast salmon and sweet potato cakes.
Village Wine Walk
The Whistler Village Wine Walk starts at the Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery, inside the Westin Resort & Spa. They proudly represent a broad spectrum of Canadian artists and when you visit you’ll be struck by the variety, power and boldness of the art on display.
A lot of Canadian landscape art is inspired by the Group of Seven, who bucked the trends of the time and painted with a bold palette and style they felt represented the mass scale of Canada. This has evolved and morphed into the contemporary art of today, which revels in the wildness and freedom of the country they’re depicting.
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We will soon be receiving this much anticipated new work from Kerry Langlois, three of her mini’s have already sold but ‘Summer III,’ 5 x 4 pictured right is still available along with the larger ‘My Blue Heart,’ 30 x 30. We don’t expect these pieces to stay around for long! Please send all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out for one of their newer artists, Kerry Langlois, who works with acrylic and resin on birch panel to create dream-like, minimalist landscapes. In October, four of the galleries artists will be painting live, including Susie Cipolla, Alan Wylie, Angela Morgan and Janice Robertson.
From there, you stroll over to Village North (approximately a 10 – 15-minute walk) to The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, who have the Anonymous Art Show on display. As the name suggests, this art show has a mystery element to it – the artist’s details are concealed until the piece is purchased.
It’s a fundraiser for Arts Whistler and all of the amazing art on the wall (333 pieces by 200 local artists) is now only $50. Whether you’re in search of a piece from a highly sought-after artist or looking for the perfect piece to fill a void on your walls, the Anonymous Art Show is an exciting opportunity to buy impressive original art produced by the Sea to Sky creative community.
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As part of the interactive experience, Wine Walk participants can jump on Instagram and answer the question; how has the Anonymous Art Show ignited your creativity? If you tag #artswhistler and #onlyinwhistler, you’ll see your response pop up in real time on the big screen in the gallery.
The exhibit changes for the last Wine Walk of the season (Friday, October 30), when Think-It-Over takes to the walls. The Whistler community was asked what inspired them to move forward after the events of 2020 and six words were picked out of the collective zeitgeist: potential, resilience, justice, intimacy, humility and learning. Sea to Sky artists will use these to create artworks in their preferred mediums and they’ll be on display from October 27 to December 13, 2020.
Note that the Maury Young Arts Gallery stop is not available on October 16 and 23, and that ticket prices are reduced to $10 on those days.
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“More than ever was I convinced that the old way of seeing was inadequate to express this big country of ours, her depth, her height, her unbounded wilderness, silences too strong to be broken―nor could ten million cameras, through their mechanical boxes, ever show real Canada. It had to be sensed, passed through live minds, sensed, and loved.” -Emily Carr Emily Carr, ‘Forest’, 1930s oil on paper 80cm x 110cm Audain Art Museum Collection. Gift of Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa
The next stop is just over the road in the Audain Art Museum’s Cressey Hall, where you will be treated to an exclusive viewing of selected artwork from the museum’s vault and a private narration by the museum director, Dr. Curtis Collins, or a member of his curation team. Each week two pieces, that have yet to been made public at the Audain, will be brought up from the vault and put on display for Wine Walk guests.
The works will then be added to the museum’s permanent collection, which proudly focuses on BC art, both historic and contemporary. If you’ve not visited the Audain before this will definitely make you want to come back and explore, and for those who have, it’s worth noting that they’ve made quite a few changes recently, so maybe it’s time for another visit. For more information on what a trip to this museum is like, read Culture Up: How to Get the Most From a Visit to the Audain Art Museum in Whistler.
Wine Walk tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance (no tickets at the door), with participants receiving an email the morning-of with their personalized schedule, safety protocols and expectations, and the BC Health Self-Assessment link (cancellations with full refunds will be allowed for anyone experiencing COVID-symptoms, right up until the event start time).
Whistler Wine Walks are a chance to engage with gallery curators and artists, learn more about Canadian art and perhaps find something for above the fireplace back home.
Fall offers great value on accommodation with rooms from $139 and a free $25 Dining Voucher when you book a stay of two nights or more. You could also consider staying midweek for even more savings and a quieter village. For more ideas about what to do in the mountains in fall take a look at When Seasons Collide: 12 Quintessential Whistler Experiences.