Last year’s inaugural Art Walk saw 45 artists represented in 40 local businesses, from cafés to dentist offices, and everywhere in between.
The launch celebration for Art Walk will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Foyer Gallery. Curated by Toby Jaxon, the show is open to the public and will feature live painting demonstrations. Guests can expect to see impressive works by Angela Muellers, Dawna Werbeski, and Brent VandenBroek, to name a few.
From new to seasoned artists, the Art Walk is open to all members of Sea to Sky arts councils, including the Squamish Arts Council and Visuals — a long-standing pillar organization representing artists in the region that recently amalgamated with SAC. Board member Elena Whitman said joining forces was a natural decision that will benefit both organizations.
“We really were trying to do many of the same things and there is a strong energy behind both organizations. It didn’t make sense to try to be representing the same membership. Together we are stronger,” said Whitman, the organizer of Art Walk and former Visuals president.
Art Walk brochures feature a map of all the locations throughout Squamish all the way up to the Sea to Sky Gondola, and an opportunity to win an original piece should you be able to complete the challenge of collecting all the letters in WALK — tokens are given out at every venue — filling out your ballot and dropping it off to specified locations.
“Last year, the venues ran out of the map, so we ended up having to print more. I think we went through about 3,000 in total,” said Whitman, who is also a painter and sketch artist. “Some people really made an effort. They went absolutely everywhere. It was really incredible.”
Muellers, an oil painter, and private teacher, is one of the featured artists in this year’s Art Walk. With over 10 years of formal training under her belt and an education in the French Academic System of drawing (students of which include Picasso and Van Gogh), Muellers’ work is not to be missed. She is passionate about her vocation, evidenced by the time she invests. In one instance she spent “hundreds of hours on just one painting.”
“I worked on that one for one afternoon every week for over a year,” she said, adding she uses linen canvas imported from New York City and pigments that will last centuries.
Muellers implores others to recognize the contribution artists make.
“Imagine a society without artists; we wouldn’t have anything that would inspire us to dream, or think, or hope for. Art is good for people, especially those who don’t have the time to take that path or do something creative,” said Muellers. “Artists make so many sacrifices — of all my friends who are artists, they are struggling financially. It’s not something you choose to make money at. It’s very difficult. So if you can afford to, buy an original work.
“Being an artist is not an easy path, but it’s a path you must take if you’ve been called to take it.”
Muellers, who also paints on copper surfaces such as those featured at the Britannia Mine Museum, gravitates towards portraiture.
“That is my real love. I just love doing narrative painting where you’re telling a story, where you have hidden objects, and hidden meanings and people really have to spend time with the work — and everyone will get something different out of it. I might have intended one thing, but [the viewer] may get something completely different.
VandenBroek is a relative newcomer. With no formal training, but a keen eye for detail, and a work ethic that would put most to shame, the Sarnia, Ont., native is showing his work publicly for only the second time in his short career as an artist.
A former mechanical engineer who tired of the daily grind, VandenBroek recently relocated to Furry Creek from Whistler where he had been flipping houses. Looking for something a little less stressful, he rented a home with an incredible view of Howe Sound and typically sits for eight hours a day pumping out photo-realistic acrylic paintings that capture intricate details and challenging depth of field.
“The first time I ever picked up a paintbrush was about two and a half years ago. Before that I was always just sketching or drawing,” he said, adding that he failed art in high school. “When I got to Whistler a couple years ago, I just decided to give it a go.
“Being part of Art Walk is an honour. To be put next to some of the artists that I see in this show is awesome. It’s just nice to be recognized to be honest. I just want to get out there to be around people who are seeing my work and hear their reactions to it.”
Despite his rigorous painting regime, VandenBroek says he is taking it easier these days, enjoying time with his faithful companion Lily, a golden retriever, hitting the beach as often as possible.
“I just ditched everything in favour of this – friends have been really encouraging. I just decided I’m gonna paint my ass off for a year and see if I can make something of it.”
Werbeski, is a long-time artist with eclectic tastes. Art Walk goers will be treated to a new series of large-scale acrylic on canvas paintings inspired by the avid hiker’s adventures on the North Shore.
“My recent series is based on the Grouse Grind. I found beauty in it. I love it so much,” she explained. “I also wanted to do that series because I couldn’t find a lot of art of it — not many artists have done a trail depiction of it.”
For Werbeski, variety really is the spice of life.
“I get bored easily,” Werbeski admits. “I’m inspired by different paints and media, glass — any interesting surface. Compared to a lot of artists who want to stick to one medium, stick to their one surface, I constantly want to change what I do.
“It turns out that I’m typically charged up by dramatic moody scenes, unusual lighting, not necessarily the happy colourful stuff,” she said, adding that her lack of formal training, despite painting for her entire adult life, gives her a sense of freedom.
“I want the Art Walk to be an annual thing in our community — something that everyone can expect. There’s so much talent that is happening in our community. It’s such a good opportunity to get the artwork out to there.”
“The most important aspect to Art Walk is to give an opportunity to different artists to exhibit their work, not just to locals but all the tourists we get – and hopefully sell something,” she said.
“Cafés, doctor’s offices… We just went around and knocked on some doors and said ‘Hey, you guys have some walls! We’d like to use them and hopefully, bring some more people into your business. We’ve got some beautiful artwork that can be displayed in beautiful and different spaces.
“We really hope people will come out all through the month, but particularly on Sept. 11 at The Foyer Gallery when we will have some catering and a couple of artist doing demos,” said Whitman. “It’s going to be fun. People will be able to pick up their maps of the art walk if they haven’t already, talk to the artists, ask some questions, and even buy something.
“That’s what it’s all about – taking home art that you can enjoy for a lifetime.”
Visit squamishvisuals.com/artwalk for more information on venues and locations.