Exploring Contemporary Art
Minas Basin Harbour - Mark Richards
Mark Richards Gallery
Contemporary art is simply art that has been created in our lifetime – it’s distinctly anchored to the present. What makes it so exciting is that you can never be sure what you’re going to get. These artists aim to challenge the viewer – they want to make you think and feel.
Prepare for a journey as we offer a snapshot of some of the contemporary artists who are showcased in Whistler’s galleries.
“Our contemporary artwork responds to a global environment that is culturally diverse, technologically advancing, and multifaceted,” explains Jeanine Messeguer, gallery director at Whistler Contemporary Gallery. “We have art that captures the ‘wow’ factor.”
An artist that certainly embodies this “wow factor” is Max Steven Grossman from Barranquilla, Colombia. With a Masters of Arts specializing in photography, his debut exhibition of photomontages sold out within days this past winter. Taking photographs of bookshelves, he reorganizes them to create a thematic “Bookscape.” Film, Rock and Roll, Fashion and Architecture are some of the themes he highlights and exhibits around the world.
What A Splash - Jay Kelly - Whistler Contemporary Gallery
Also featured at Whistler Contemporary Gallery is one of North America’s top collage artists, Jay Kelly. He creates life- like images using vintage print material. The microscopic detail must be seen to be believed. From a distance, viewers see a near-photorealistic image, but up close you can see it’s an incredibly intricate collage. Like the life he chooses to depict, his pieces have complex layers that viewers would only see if they took the time to look deeper.
At The Crystal Lodge Art Gallery, art lovers are invited to experience life from the viewpoint of their contemporary artists. “When people look at Blythe Scott’s work they take a step outside of their world for a moment and just be,” says Penny Eder, the gallery’s curator. “There are so many elements to discover – they get lost in the rich surfaces.” Scott was born in Scotland and trained at Glasgow School of Art and Strathclyde University. Her pieces are characterized by a whimsical quality, inviting the viewer to share in the “dreamscape” she paints. Her love of light, colour, and texture is clearly evident.
The Return - Janet Esseiva - The Crystal Lodge Art Gallery
The work of Janet Esseiva is also featured at The Crystal Lodge Art Gallery. “Esseiva’s work is reflective of our emotions: ever changing, sometimes moody, sometimes clear,” Eder explains. “People often comment on the ‘truth’ in her work. They find her relatable and relaxing.” Esseiva was born in South Africa and emigrated to Bowen Island, B.C., in 1998. Her acrylic paintings can evoke a sense of wonder, conjure a memory, or bring on a feeling of lightness. Whether it’s a misty winter morning or a summer meadow in bloom, it’s as if she has added a range of emotions to her pallette and blended these in with each brush stroke.
North Coast Calm - Cameron Bird - Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery
Adele Campbell Fine Art highlights the range of mediums that contemporary artists cover, and how they’ve made those mediums their own. “Contemporary art exists outside of the usual boundaries of time,” explains Louise Rains, art advisor.
“We have artists like West Coast oil painter Cameron Bird, paying homage to the works of great Canadian and international artists from over 100 years ago, alongside sculptor James Stewart, who utilizes 3D printing, which has only recently become possible.”
Artist Laura Harris, from Victoria, pours her emotion into every piece she so lyrically paints. Favouring larger canvases for her heavily textural acrylic and mixed media paintings, the resulting abstract landscapes are soulful, vibrant and high impact. “Sometimes we catch a glimpse of where art might be moving to in the future,” Rains says. “It makes the gallery a fascinating place to browse, and it is wonderful when you are able to share a piece of that joy with a client and a piece finds its forever home.”
Together - James McCue - Black Tusk Gallery
At the Black Tusk Gallery, the brightly coloured work of Woodland artist James McCue is easily noticed. Woodland Art blends the traditional legends and myths with a contemporary style. Artists like McCue and his teacher, Norval Morrisseau, believe that art opens the viewer to new possibilities and inspires thought. In this way, they believe that art has the power to heal because it fosters new understandings. “Many of the First Nations artists we represent have one foot in the culture of their tribe, and another in contemporary art that crosses all cultural boundaries,” explains Anyssa Carruthers of the Black Tusk Gallery. “The Woodland style of art is ‘pictograph.’ McCue’s pieces are bright, make you curious, and reflect nature.”
Keeping with a nature-inspired theme, Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler showcases the work of contemporary sculptor Cathryn Jenkins. “Jenkins’ sculptures have become a tourist attraction,” says Wendy Wacko, owner and director. “She melds technical expertise with fearless exploration. Viewers are simply left awestruck.”
The Guardian- Cathryn Jenkins - Mountain Galleries
This award-winning sculptor can often be found in her studio alongside her mother, Fran Jenkins, making a bear or eagle appear from soapstone, marble or serpentine. Having grown up in the Selkirk Mountains of B.C., she’s inspired by the wildlife that surrounds her. Jenkins started working alongside her master carver-mother in her early teens but has developed her own distinct style. The Guardian, displayed at Mountain Galleries, has sleek, angular lines that give the piece a dramatic gravitas. The lustrous quality of the stone makes you want to reach out and touch it, but the regal nature of the subject compels you to think twice.
From sculpture to photography, the work of Mark Richards at his self-titled gallery truly catches the eye. “As a contemporary artist, I’ve developed a unique medium called photo-stenciling, which I use to revisit the traditional genre of landscape art,” explains Richards. “The viewer loves what they see, but is not familiar with the process. This often results in fascination and a desire to further understand the medium and gain a deeper appreciation for the artwork.”
Richards is a splendid example of a contemporary artist who doesn’t like to be restricted by traditional boundaries. With a background in engineering, he combines painting and photography to create his unique landscape art. The way he plays with light is incredible, which makes the mountain scenes he chooses look like you could reach out and touch them. “Contemporary art is exciting because there are no rules. We, as artists, are breaking new ground,” Richards says.
VISIT WHISTLER GALLERIES
Adele Campbell Fine Art - Westin Resort & Spa, adelecampbell.com
Art Junction Gallery & Frame Studio - Function Junction, artjunction.ca
Black Tusk Gallery - Art Gallery Row, Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa, blacktusk.ca
Crystal Lodge Art Gallery - Crystal Lodge, crystallodgeartgallery.com
Fathom Stone Art Gallery & Studio - Westin Resort & Spa, fathomstone.com
Mark Richards Gallery - Art Gallery Row, Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa, markrichardsgallery.com
Mountain Galleries - Upper Village at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, mountaingalleries.com
Suzanne Johnston Studio Gallery - Westin Resort & Spa, suzannejohnston.com
The Plaza Galleries - Village North, plazagalleries.com
Whistler Contemporary Gallery - Art Gallery Row, Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa / Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler, whistlerart.com
White Dog Studios at the Crystal Lodge Art Gallery – Crystal Lodge, whitedogstudios.ca
VISIT WHISTLER MUSEUMS
Audain Art Museum - 4350 Blackcomb Way, audainartmuseum.com
Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre - 4584 Blackcomb Way, slcc.ca
Whistler Museum - 4333 Main Street, whistlermuseum.org
Dive Into It - Laura Harris - Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery
Rock & Roll - Max Steven Grossman - Whistler Contemporary Gallery