The Local Whistler Artists You Need to Know About
There are three reasons why creative types are drawn to Whistler:
- The Landscape
- The Lifestyle
- The People
We find ourselves continually in awe of the artists and creatives who call Whistler home. Whether they work with ceramics, acrylics, or the human body, the mountains and the forests of Whistler seem to attract a certain type of person. In our humble opinion, we feel like our little mountain town must have far more artisans per capita than the norm. Many came here on a nomadic whim, and then never left.
We here at Forged appreciate the arts in our town, from the public sculptures to the small-time artisans hanging their works at the cafes and co-working spaces of the community.In honour of the arts, here are some of our favourite Whistler local artists.
Our Favourite Artists of Whistler
No favourites list of Whistler artists list is complete without mentioning Chili Thom. He passed too soon but has never lost his high standing in the local community. In fact, if you know any local artists around town, its likely Chili. His work still adorns the walls, galleries, and homes across this small community.
He created fantastical, surreal landscapes representing his home: mountains dripping in snow, waves crashing into sand, and forests highlighted by sunsets. His work pulls from the soft billowing curves painted in Emily Carr’s famous works but he took it to entirely new levels.
If you are looking for a unique piece of art to take home from your trip to Whistler, a Chili Tom print will surely do the trick. If you are already on a high-end luxury stay in Whistler, why not go all out and buy an original if you can find one. His work speaks to the community on so many levels, and he continues to be missed by all.
In his own words “our experience in nature depends on how you choose to position yourself within it. My art acts not only as a form of escapism but also as a tool to deepen appreciation for the natural world in which we are all inextricably connected.”
Andrea Mueller, born and raised in Toronto, Canada, made her way to Whistler to take advantage of the mountains. Years later, she has made this her home and her inspirational studio space. She is a self-described wild child, which reflects in her big, bold, colourful paintings. Seemingly messy brushstrokes of bright colours mesh together to depict animals, people and mystical combinations of the two.
When Mueller isn’t covered in paint, creating in her Whistler studio, she finds time to bring arts to the greater community. She is also an educator. She brings arts to her community through regular painting nights and workshops. Looking for a memorable bachelorette activity? Get painting with Mueller!
A photographer based out of Whistler, David McColm was born to photograph the mountains around him. In particular, its the nighttime mountains which call his name. They draw him into their depths for long session photographing the night sky. He is well known for both his video and photo work, but really made a name for himself with time-lapse work around the visits of Whistler.
According to McColm, he spends up to 40 nights a year working through the nights, deep in the alpine, to capture the captivating and mesmerizing starry sky photos we have come to love.Without the work of McColm, we’d never know the beauty that’s hidden in the nighttime forests around Whistler. He truly captures our imagination, with his thought-provoking work in BC and beyond.
Dave “Pepe” Petko
When the paper runs out, you might as well turn to the human body. Dave “Pepe” Petko is a renowned tattoo artist, found during the day at Black Ohm Tattoos. Originally, they asked him to apprentice in 1995, but 25 years later he owns it. Today his creative impulses spill well beyond ink and skin. He often works on festival set and stage design, specifically as a core member of the design crew for Bass Coast. Each year he plays a major part imagining fantastical stage structures for the festivities.
When Pepe originally moved to Whistler, he found time to paint and draw in between his money-making job. This passion continues, and now he’s producing incredibly iconic pieces, focusing on landscapes, moonscapes, and crystals. His work is a statement piece, in sizes suitable for any home. Often his pieces translate well between formats, from the skin to paper to wood.
Vanessa Stark “Nes”
Working out of Pemberton and Whistler, Vanessa Stark’s work speaks to the essence of our community. The mountains, the ski hill, the forests, she spins magic across the canvas. Her works are dreamy, semi-lucid images of peaks, chairlifts, and more, woven into a surreal landscape of colour. If you ever wondered what Whistler looks like on acid, look no further then the imaginative works of Nes. She really brings out the detailed beauty of her home town.
If you feel like seeing her work in person, visit her each and every Sunday at the Whistler’s farmers market, or head up to Pemberton to One Earth Collection. Make a day trip out of it, road trip to Pemberton and see what else the community has in store.
We love everything that comes out of Kate Zessel’s head. Her stunning black and white ink work epitomizes Whistler from the creatures to the peaks. She lives the lifestyle of a nomadic West Coaster, trekking through the deep mountain ranges, knee-high in the snow, and surrounded in frosty airy. It’s this alpine imagery that flows from her pen to paper, as she inks uniquely intricate representations of her home landscape.
We love her work because it also translates well from paper to skin, and she often works in partnership with people and businesses to bring their vision to life. Recently she worked with Patagonia for a special piece for their Whistler store. No big deal for a local whistler artist.
Community Arts Classes
During your time here in Whistler, maybe you too have been inspired by the mountains around us. The woods and the waters are calling your name, telling you they need to get carved in stone, or painted to paper. Good news for you that many places and people in our little community offer to share their knowledge through public workshops and classes.
Here a few to get you inspired:
Whistler Pottery Club
Check out the ever-evolving series of events and workshops held by the Whistler Pottery Club. Everyone at some point in their life has wanted to learn how to throw mud to the wheel, so why not take a chance on yourself in Whistler? Classes vary depending on season and mud thrower hosting, so check back frequently for one which suits you.
You can also learn all about pottery through Whistler.com Adult Learning programs. They have both beginner and intermediate classes, hosted at Whistler Secondary.
Art on the Lake
Workshops, on workshops, on workshops, Art on the Lake is a place to collect with other creatives in your community to learn new artistic skills. Whether you are learning the basics of watercolor, hand dipping indigo, or exploring how to work light into your paintings, the Alta Lake art house brings life to the local arts community. Beginners and professionals are welcome to all classes, which range broadly through the arts. Check back regularly for updates to their workshop schedule.
Where to Find Local Whistler Artists
Audain Art Museum
An architecturally interesting building, located just outside the heart of the village, the Audain Art Museum was a long time in the making. Today it boasts an awe-inspiring permanent collection and continually surprises the community with the variety of traveling exhibitions which go through their doors. The primary focus of both the permanent and traveling works are the West and North Coast First Nations artwork. For those who are unfamiliar with the iconography, and deep creative cultural history of the First Nations of our region, do yourself a favour and take a tour.
The Audain offers daily guided walks through the galleries and puts on many popular events. Some of these events include Yoga in the Audain, as well as children programs. They strive to make art accessible and have recently expanded their free-admissions to those 18 years of age and under. For everyone else, it’s $18. There is a reason why its one of our Top Things to Do in Whistler.
Whistler Contemporary Art
Located in the downstairs of the Hilton Hotel and in the Lobby of the Four Seasons, Whistler Art provides space to whistler local artists and not-so-local artists to show their wares in our town. They have been open since 1992, and exhibit both emerging, and established artists from around the world. If you are thinking about adding a contemporary piece to your collection, head on over to one of the two locations to take some inspiration.
Another contemporary gallery in Whistler, but one with a bit more of a Canadian focus. You can find the Art Junction, in our all-time favourite Whistler neighbourhood, Function Junction. They host a variety of local creatives in their space, Including Kandice Keith, Peter Lawson, and more. Plus, they offer professional framing services.
Are you inspired by the creative souls who call this beautiful mountain town home? We know we are, and we are so excited to continue to explore this artistic side of the Whistler community for years to come. Maybe we’ll see you at the Audain, or maybe at that pottery class!