ART TO GO
Your Guide to Whistler’s Galleries
Whether you’re an experienced art collector or searching for that dazzling image or sculpture as a memento of your holiday, Whistler’s thriving gallery scene is one of B.C.’s top destinations to purchase high-quality works of art.
Browsing for and finding the perfect piece is a joyous and trouble-free process for visitors to Whistler’s galleries. Some focus on Canadian or Pacific Northwest Native themes, while others feature a more international collection. All, however, have the expertise to help you choose the right piece and then ship it, hassle- and worry-free, to your home — even if that’s half a world away. “When people are on holiday, they are relaxed and have many hours to enjoy,” says Jeanine Messeguer, director of the Whistler Contemporary Gallery (previously named Whistler Village Art Gallery). After a hard day on the mountain, or having their “rest day,” art enthusiasts and keen collectors enjoy browsing galleries, looking for that unique work for that blank wall they have at home, or just to be inspired. “We ship probably 70 per cent of our works internationally — New York, Hong Kong, London, China. The lucky thing about Whistler is that most of the galleries have been in business a number of years, and we have tons of experience shipping our pieces.” Helping visitors find inspiration in art is a big part of what the staff of Fathom Stone Art Gallery and Studio do, says sculptor and gallery owner Jon Fathom. Stone works that depict bears, other wildlife found in western Canada, and the only Whistler-made selection of inukshuks, are featured at the Fathom gallery. The sculptors represented include Andrew Gable, Daryl Klassen, Elmer Gunderson and of course, Fathom himself. Seventy per cent of the stone featured in the gallery, including chlorite, alabaster, onyx, soapstone and marble, originated in British Columbia. “People from around the world come to my gallery. We tell them all about how the piece is made and if they like it and purchase it, we package it carefully, and ship it to them. No problem.”
“With stone art, 90 per cent of the people who come in say, ‘ Wow, this is inspiring.’ You want to inspire people to do great things in life. That’s what art is all about.” Before purchasing artwork, it’s important to consider how it will look in its intended space. According to Messeguer, whose galleries feature paintings by artists Jane Waterous, Rebecca Kinkead, Jay Kelly and Ross Tamlin, if clients can supply a photo of the space, her staff can do a “virtual installation” to help clients see what it will look like. Mountain Galleries has a similar service and also offers a 30-day guarantee, so art lovers can take the piece home and try it in the space. “If it doesn’t work, they can bring it back for a full refund,” says Ben McLaughlin, the gallery’s director of communications. Because Mountain Galleries features the work of living Canadian artists — Nicholas Bott, Karel Doruyter, Charlie Easton and Shannon Ford, to name a few — guests also have the option to put 50 per cent down. “If they like something in different dimensions, or colour palette, we can get our artists to customize the piece to what they’re looking for,” McLaughlin said. Mark Richards captures dramatic landscapes in stunning photographic images and then uses a process called photo stenciling, which combines the immediacy of photography with the impressionistic quality of painting. Visitors are often drawn to an image in his gallery because of its association with a personal experience in that location. Since the images are his own, Richards can photo stencil his pieces in different dimensions to fit the desired space. “Sometimes people find multiple pieces that they like,” Richards says. “To whittle it down, I often ask them what the first piece that caught their eye was. That first emotional reaction is often a key indicator. I always say that people should value that. It’s hard to go wrong with that.”
Bill MacGillivary, owner of Black Tusk Gallery, likes to share the history of the Northwest Coast Native art or other works at the gallery when visitors are searching for that special piece for their home or office. “The mythology around Native art is that each piece usually has a history or story that goes along with it,” he says, adding that the gallery stocks works representing artists from 13 First Nations up and down the coast. Orcas, bears, ravens and even the sun and moon all have special significance to the region’s First Nations. Shipping the chosen artwork home is trouble and worry free, says MacGillivary. “We have a great track record over the last 14 years shipping goods to virtually all continents.” Artwork that’s shipped out of the country is not subject to 12 per cent Canadian tax, but is subject to the tax if customers take it with them. Keep this in mind when making a purchase and considering travelling with the piece: artwork worth several thousand dollars will incur a substantial tax fee ($600 for a $5,000 piece, for example) and is normally more than the shipping cost. There is no Goods and Services Tax rebate for international visitors who purchase items during their stay in Canada.
FATHOM STONE ART GALLERY & CLASSES
MARK RICHARDS GALLERY
BLACK TUSK GALLERY
WHISTLER CONTEMPORARY GALLERY