Category Archives: Arts & Artists

The Whistler Answer Has Turned 40!

“For those tired of questions… the Whistler Answer.”

If you heard bursts of laughter and rad tunes echoing over Alta Lake on Saturday night, it wasn’t some high school house party – it was the sound of those early Whistler hippies and ski-bums partying the night away at The Point for the 40th anniversary party of the Whistler Answer.

Partygoers at The Point last Saturday, April 1 for the Answer anniversary party.

Marketing itself as the satirical flipside of the Whistler Question, the Answer was a local alternative newspaper dreamed up by Charlie Doyle, Robin Blechman and Tim Smith as a comedic response to the more serious Question.  The winter of 1977 was cold but desperately lacking in snow, causing many residents to head for warmer climates.  The Answer acted as a kind of letter from to travelling Whistlerites and catered to the town’s hippie ski-bum culture with a tongue-in-cheek style attributed by many to editor Robert “Bosco” Poitras (then Colebrook).  The early issues were created completely by hand at a local squat – hand-written, hand-drawn and hand-pasted with Scotch tape and white glue.

Publication began in 1977 and ended in 1982, although it was revived from 1992 – 1993.  Flipping through the Answer provides a window to the “Old Whistler”, an idyllic era that pre-dates our valley’s current hyper-development and insane visitor numbers.

In the same way, Saturday night’s Whistler Answer 40th Anniversary party at The Point was a wormhole to a Whistler in the days of the Answer, with all its lively local characters and a reunion performance by Foot in the Door, the band of Answer publisher Charlie Doyle, Mark Schnaidt and Rocco Bonito.

Charlie Doyle and band members perform at the Whistler Answer Benefit at the Mountain House Cabaret in 1981, during the Answer’s first run.

The night started out with a dinner of Bushwoman’s Chinese Cuisine followed by some hilarious tales from Doyle and others about the publication.  Several readers stepped up to share their favourite Answer passages – including an insightful book review of the local BC-Tel phonebook.  In the midst of these retellings, the party was crashed by three nude-suited hippies covered in bush and branch – supposedly the three individuals pictured canoeing in the Answer’s first issue front-page article: “Missing on Alta Lake”.  An auction was also held for original copies of the Whistler Answer and Whistler’s superhero comic “Localman” with proceeds going to the organizers of the event.

The first issue of the Answer featured a photo of three canoeing individuals “lost” on Alta Lake.  Find the full issue online at the link below.

Foot in the Door then took to the stage to bring back some choice tunes from the days of the Answer, to the joy of the dancing crowd.  The show also included improv acts by Get to the Point Improv and more great music by Some Assembly Required and the Skunk Cabbage Revue.

Foot in the Door reunited to perform at The Point for the Answer’s 40th Anniversary.

The packed heritage lodge was full of hugs, laughter and old friends meeting again in what can only be called the closest we’ll ever get to reigniting the spirit of the infamous Toad Hall parties we at the Museum hear so much about.

To browse all issues of the Whistler Answer in full, check out the Whistler Museum’s digitized versions of the colourful local paper: http://www.whistlermuseum.org/whistleranswer

Christmas at Rainbow Lodge: The Musical

If you take a walk along the Village Stroll in December you’re sure to notice signs of the holiday season anywhere you look; there is snow on the ground, tree are lit up, wreaths have been hung, and beneath the voices of crowds of people strains of holiday music can be heard.  As in many communities, music plays an important part in Whistler’s holiday traditions, many of which began in the 1980s when the Whistler of today was still developing.  Events such as the Bizarre Bazaar (now the Arts Whistler Holiday Market) would not be complete without festive music in the background and for thirty-three years the Christmas Eve Carol Service has brought local residents and visitors together to sing carols as one community.  Though rarely performed, Whistler even has its own Christmas musical.

Molly Boyd with Myrtle Philip at the first performance of "Christmas at Rainbow Lodge".

Molly Boyd with Myrtle Philip at the first performance of “Christmas at Rainbow Lodge”.

“Christmas at Rainbow Lodge” was written by Bob Daly and Molly Boyd and first performed by the students of Myrtle Philip School in December 1984.  Daly was the principal of the school from 1981 to 1985 and returned to head the school twice more before retiring in 2002.  During her twelve years living in Whistler, Boyd was heavily involved in Whistler’s music scene and its holiday activities – she founded the Whistler Children’s Chorus, was involved in starting the Christmas Eve Carol Service and directed the Whistler Singers.  During December she could often by spotted leading the Singers caroling through the Village with here battery-operated keyboard balanced on a shopping art.  The two were inspired to create a musical by Myrtle Philip’s stories of her life as a pioneer in Alta Lake as told to them over tea and Myrtle’s famous rum cake.

The musical tells the shortened and somewhat fictionalized story of how Myrtle and Alex Philip came to build Rainbow Lodge, beginning with Alex’s chance meeting of John Millar in Vancouver in 1911.  The story includes their first three-day journey to Alta Lake and meeting with loggers, trappers, railroad workers, miners and hunters who already lived or were working in the area.  Each group of people the pair meets helps them in some way as they begin settling and building.  To thank all these people for their kindness they all are invited to share in the Philips’ first Christmas at Rainbow Lodge.

The dining room at Rainbow Lodge decorated for Christmas.

The dining room at Rainbow Lodge decorated for Christmas.

Unlike many holiday concerts, most of the music in “Christmas at Rainbow” is not about Christmas.  Instead, the majority are folk songs from the Pacific Northwest such as “Acres of Clams” and “The PGE Song”, many of which were collected by Philip J Thomas, a composer, singer, teacher and folklorist who founded the Vancouver Folk Song Circle and instrumental in collecting and preserving the folk music of British Columbia.

Since its inaugural performance in 1984, “Christmas at Rainbow” has been performed only twice more: once by the students of the current Myrtle Philip Community School in the 1990s and once by the intermediate students of Spring Creek Community School in 2012.

Happy Holidays from the Whistler Museum!

It Started With an Ark

As Whistler enters the (somewhat) slower season of autumn, Arts Whistler is presenting Fall for Arts, a collection of exhibitions, classes, performances and more highlighting the diverse arts and artists this town has to offer.  In this spirit, we offer a brief look back at one of the older (or younger, depending on how you look at it) performing groups in Whistler: the Whistler Children’s Chorus.

The Whistler Children's Chorus performing Hakuna Matata, 1995

The Whistler Children’s Chorus performing Hakuna Matata, 1995.  Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus.

The Chorus began in 1991 when Molly Boyd, already the director of the Whistler Singers, was asked to put together a group of children to perform with a Vancouver orchestra putting on Noye’s Fludde (an opera based on Noah’s Ark) in Whistler.  Under the direction of Boyd this group would become known as the Whistler Children’s Chorus in 1992, accepting members 6 and up with the mandate to “provide opportunities for all children in our community to sing and enjoy making music”.

The first performances of the newly formed Chorus included carolling through the Village with the Whistler Singers and joining the Singers at the Christmas Eve Carol Service (a Christmas tradition now entering its 34th year).  The community of Whistler and its variety of events (ie. ski races) soon offered the Chorus many opportunities to perform.  The Chorus participated in the community’s Canada Day Parade and Remembrance Day Ceremony and annually held holiday concerts in support of the Whistler Food Bank.

The Whistler Children's Chorus in the Canada Day Parade, 1997

The Whistler Children’s Chorus in the Canada Day Parade, 1997.  Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus.

Most notably, in 2002 the Chorus was chosen to represent British Columbia in the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill as part of Unisong, a 500-voice choir made up of choirs from across the country.  During this visit to Ottawa the Chorus performed in the National Arts Centre, Christ Church Cathedral and at then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson’s garden party.  This trip also taught the valuable lesson that red shirts, white pants and fire hoses do not mix, as adult chaperones sat up late trying to scrub the pink out of once white materials.

Unisong mass choir performing in the National Arts Centre, July 2001

Unisong mass choir performing in the National Arts Centre, July 2001.  Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus

During the lead up to the 2010 Olympics the Chorus built on their early experiences at parades and races to become veritable pros at performing “O Canada”, as well as the catchy official song of the Torch Relay (complete with choreography).  Beginning well before the Olympics at “A Celebration of Canada” for the IOC in 2003, the Chorus performed for the Bid Announcement on July 2, 2003, the “100 Day Countdown Celebration” in November, 2009, the arrival of the Olympic Torch in February 2010, with Norman Foote during the Olympics, and at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games.

Whistler, BC, February 5th 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Whistler. The Whistler Children's Choir and the Whistler Singers will sing, "There's a Light/ Cette Flamme," Photo: Ian Robertson / coastphoto.com

Whistler, BC, February 5th 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Whistler. The Whistler Children’s Choir and the Whistler Singers sing, “There’s a Light/ Cette Flamme,” Photo: Ian Robertson / coastphoto.com

Now in its 24th season, the Whistler Children’s Chorus continues to provide opportunities for children to sing and make music.  They can next be seen performing a spooky selection of songs October 30th at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.  For more information check out their website or find the choir on Facebook.

If you fancy singing yourself, consider joining the Whistler Singers (Wednesdays at Maury Young Arts Centre) or Barbed Choir (Sundays at the Point).  All are welcome.

 

By Allyn Pringle

Wrapping up Crafts in the Park

Last Friday the Museum wrapped up it’s Crafts in the Park event that it teams up with the Whistler Library for. The event has been running for three years now. Every year we are given a different theme to base all the crafts off of and this year’s was “How do you connect to Whistler”.

This year we ran it for a total of seven weeks and included a different craft every week. Week one had the kids making foam bear masks because nature and especially the bears are very important to Whistler. Week two was a special week because the Museum teamed up with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to talk about the importance of the Indigenous history of the area as well as make cedar rope bracelets. Week three was a cardboard tube train engine because one of the first ways to efficiently get into Whistler was by railway. Week four we talked about the Olympics because they were so important for the development of Whistler into what it is today, so the kids made clothespin skiers. The following weeks the kids made screen printed t-shirts from scratch, a pipe cleaner mountain bike and bridge as well as a mini version of the Peak to Peak.

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Some of the mountain crafts made in the last week of Crafts in the Park.

The Museum had a lot of success with each week and kids really enjoyed themselves each time. Kids were able to be really creative and we saw a lot of great crafts from the kids every week. Each week varied in attendance but on average we had between 20 and 30 children show up each week and had a lot of fun meeting and hanging out with everyone.

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Two of our Crafts in the Park participants showing off their creations.

Each week our summer student Michaela would start off the event with a bit of history as to why each craft was chosen and how they related to Whistler and then Kristina from the Library would read a book to the kids after which everyone would participate in the craft together. Sometimes our helpers would even participate along with the children so everyone involved had lots of fun. We even had a couple of kids who consistently came every single week!

 

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Michaela showing off a clothespin skier craft

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Helper Shayna showing off her mountains!

This event was a lot of fun for everyone involved, the people who made it possible by helping out, the parents of the kids who came, and of course the kids themselves. The Museum loves putting this event on every year and we cannot wait to do this again and again because we have received a lot of praise from parents grateful to have something artistic for their children to participate in and making something that brings kids and the community together. The children loved getting to make different things with their friends and the help of their family.

Painting the Past – Artists History

Whistler is home to a variety of artists working in many different mediums. Many of the artists throughout Whistler come from all over the world but all of them now call this beautiful area home. The variety of artists include photographers, fine artists, sculptors,  digital artists, artisans, illustrators, and more, and are spread out all over the valley. There are hundreds of artists with different styles and who work in different mediums so you can find almost any type of art being produced in Whistler.

The most commonly celebrated theme, however, is easily the scenic views and beautiful nature that can be found all around the Whistler area. Whether artists literally depict scenes from the landscape or merely take influence from them, the natural wonder of Whistler has not escaped the artists who call this place home. As well, many of these artists have been featured in places outside of Canada not just outside of Whistler.

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Isobel sitting in her hand-painted coffin.

The first well-known artist in Whistler is Isobel MacLaurin. Her and her late husband Don have called Whistler their full-time home for more than 30 years (and a part-time retreat for decades before that) and they saw the town grow into what it is today, all while Isobel helped the art scene in Whistler get on its feet. In the days before the creation of the Whistler Arts Council (now known as Arts Whistler) Isobel was the only professional artist in town. That meant she was asked to do a lot of work for the mountains, which included signs that are still on the mountains to this day and all of which were painted by hand in Isobel’s studio.

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Isobel painting on her deck.

Among her more memorable jobs was being flown up into the alpine in a helicopter to sketch the landscape for many of her interpretive signs. Isobel often was not paid for her work, instead preferring an exchange for season’s passes to the mountain for her family. One drastic difference that Isobel herself notes is the budget for signage in the early days compared to now; in the early days of the village Isobel did up a handful of signs for the community and got paid $18 per sign, but nowadays Whistler has a multi-million dollar budget for signage every year!

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Each sign was painted by Isobel. She received $18 per sign.

Once the Arts Council was set up, other artists began to come to the area as well. The same year it started the Council also set up their first Children’s Art Festival in which Isobel helped lead free arts courses for the children. Isobel talks fondly about how attentive the children were and how well they all did learning to draw. Isobel MacLaurin has been in Whistler for many years, originally she was one of the only artists and now that number has grown into the hundreds. Whistler’s beauty lends itself easily to the inspiration for many a young artist who finds their way here.

By Michaela Sawyer

Crafts in the Park Returns

Tomorrow, July 8th marks the beginning of the Whistler Museum’s Crafts in the Park event series. This year the theme is “How do you connect to Whistler?” and each week we will cover a different aspect of what brings us to Whistler. This could be nature, history, activities and even transport. Each week we will begin with a story and information activity under the story tree and then create a craft together.

This year we will run seven of these in total, and each session will highlight a different aspect of what connects us to Whistler. They begin at 11am and go until noon. It is a drop-in program open for children ages 4-12 with a caregiver present. Crafts in the Park will be held in Florence Peterson Park, which is behind the Museum and Library.

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Schedule:

July 8 – This week will be oriented around nature, specifically the bears that are so popular in the area. The craft will be a foam bear mask, and the kids will have a choice to make either a black bear or a grizzly bear.

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Myrtle Philip and Teddy the bear.

July 15 – This week will be a collaboration between the Museum and The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre so that the kids can learn a bit more of the First Nations history and the pioneers. The craft is being provided by the Cultural Centre and is a cedar rope bracelet.

July 22 – This week focuses on transportation in the early days of Whistler. One of the first methods that made visiting the area easier was the Pacific North-West railway, so this week’s craft will be a cardboard tube train engine.

July 29 – To celebrate Whistler’s history as a ski town and its hosting of the 2010 winter Olympics, week four’s craft is a clothespin skier.

August 5 – Since there are so many activities to do in Whistler and each person enjoys different ones for various reasons the fifth week of crafts will be a screen-printed t-shirt that each child can design and themselves.

August 12 – While Whistler is known for its winter sports, in the summer mountain biking takes over the town. This week the children will get to make a pipe-cleaner bike and a mountain pass made of cardboard.

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Greg Griffith Photo.

August 19 – For our final week of crafts the kids will be making a mini replica of the Peak2Peak. To symbolize the coming together of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains that helped Whistler become what it is today.

 

Revolution: Whistler MTB in Photos & Art

So we’re in the final countdown leading up to our first ever Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week. Here we’d like to focus on one specific event that we’re especially excited about, Revolution: Whistler MTB in Photography and Art.

This is a photography and art show we’ve organized that will be on display in the Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre (formerly known as Millennium Place) from May 16 th -June 13th . The show features some of the world’s leading mountain bike photographers, artists, and athletes, including the work of Sterling Lorence, Justa Jeskova, Reuben Krabbe, and many more.

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This photo by Robin O’Neill, portraying an epic climb on Whistler Mountain during the Samurai of Singletrack race, is one of more than 30 images comprising our Revolution MTB art show.

While the art on display is absolutely top-notch, the images have been selected to portray the full range of the Whistler MTB experience, including the strong sense of culture and community that exists here. Images range from alpine to valley bottom, in all weather and light conditions, with world-class pros and Average Joes, showcasing the trails, terrain, talent, and passion that makes Whistler a Mecca of the global mountain biking scene.

As with all shows in the Gallery at Maury Young, this is 100% free to check out, just head in at any time during the Arts Centre’s regular hours.

Artwork on display has been generously donated by the artists and will be available for purchase via silent auction, with all proceeds going to support mountain bike-related programming and archival work at the Whistler Museum. To check out all of the pieces, and to place a bid, simply head to: http://www.32auctions.com/mtbweek

This exhibit is produced with generous support from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and in partnership with the Whistler Arts Council.

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Even if you weren’t able to get one of your biking shots included in the show, we’ve devised a way for everyone to get in on the action. We’re having a mountain bike photography contest, with the chance to win a canvas print of one of the photos on display at the show.

Entry is easy, simply post your best Whistler mountain biking photos to Facebook or Instagram, tag the @WhistlerMuseum and #WhistlerMTBWeek, and you’re entered. The contest will stay open until May 31st , after which we’ll select our favourite for the grand prize. Easier than changing a flat!

We hope to see you at some of this week’s MTB Week events, kicking off Wednesday May 18th at 6pm at the Whistler Museum with “Dirt Masters: Whistler Trail-building Through the Decades” featuring panelists Eric Wight (Whistler Backroads), Jerome David (former WORCA Trails Director), and Dan Raymond (builder of Wizard Burial Ground, Lord of the Squirrels, and many more). Tickets are $10, $5 for members of WORCA and the Whistler Museum.

See you there, or on the trails!