ART: SUPPORTING FRESH TALENT AND NEW AESTHETIC FORMS
Your Guide to Whistler’s Galleries
Finding fresh artistic talent takes a leap of faith. There is no proven formula for recognizing a future star, and Whistler gallery owners and directors rely on faith to take on new artists, and so much more. “Discovering” talent takes research, time, and considerable support to incubate up-andcoming artists.
For Wendy Wacko, owner of Mountain Galleries, supporting emerging artists is the gallery’s mission. “Young creative people need a lot of support,” Wacko says. “They need to know that what they’re doing is worthy and it’s right. How do you know when you’re a good painter, you’re a good sculptor, unless someone with a lot of experience backs you and stands up for you?”
Charlie Easton is one of the gallery’s most successful landscape artists. “Rockies Cauldron” is a perfect example of his joyful use of colour and aggressive rhythmic brushstrokes, two elements of his painting style that first caught Wacko’s attention. Since the beginning of their partnership, the gallery has been a champion of Easton, with part of the financial assistance coming in the form of an artist-in-residence program and a helicopter expedition into the Alberta wilderness where he could paint.
For some artists, artistic and emotional support is as important as financial. Corrinne Wolcoski first displayed her work at Mountain Galleries five years ago, and at the time she didn’t have a lot of confidence. “She was incredibly devoted, clearly ambitious, but she needed the support of a strong team,” explains Wacko. “I mentored her in the early days and she’s really taken off now and is finding her own voice.” The appeal of Wolcoski’s work is its ethereal moodiness and Zen-like qualities, as revealed in her painting “Until I See You Again.”
“Recognizing a future success does not come with a clear recipe,” says Jeanine Messeguer, director of the Whistler Contemporary Gallery. Talent takes time to nurture, and it’s usually a very slow process, which means most artists — and galleries — must have endurance, and faith.
Desirée Patterson is a Canadian photographic artist who recently joined the gallery. “I was impressed with her work, but it was backed with Desirée showing commitment to her career as an artist as well,” Messeguer says. “She travels to art fairs all over North America exhibiting her work. On those trips she’s also exposed to art from all over the world which is essential for a young artist.” Patterson’s artwork is compositional, and she captures digital images through photography, which she manipulates, as shown in “Enraciné iii.” Her artworks illuminate the contrast between rugged, natural landscapes and urban environments impacted by human consumption and construction.
Messeguer says her team never stops looking for new artists. “Art fairs are a great way to find new work, although they can be daunting with thousands of artists being represented. We recently picked up an artist we loved at the Palm Springs Art Fair.” Painter Pat McNabb Martin eschews the limits of artist brushes, and also uses knives, paint sticks, squeegees and utensils to create textural paintings with 3-D qualities like “Breaking Waves II.”
The competition for artists to secure exhibition space in fine art galleries is extraordinary. Liz Harris, owner and director of Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery, receives more than 200 artist submissions a year, in addition to her own searching at art fairs, and online. “I often shortlist in May and in the fall and depending on a niche I may need filled, or timing or just a gut feeling in some cases, I will bring on a new artist, but maybe that will be only one artist, or two artists a year,” says Harris.
Her newest artist, Kerry Langlois, paints in acrylic, but uses a high gloss resin finish, shown in her minimalistic landscape “Whisper Before the Waves.” Langlois’s career path was somewhat unusual as she pursued an arts education, but also learned the business side by working in a gallery before quitting her day job to become a fulltime artist.
Artist Jennifer Sparacino made her debut at Adele Campbell and has become one of its most successful artists in the past five years. “I adored her work the moment I saw it, and said let’s give this a shot,” Harris says. Sparacino is a wildlife painter who uses acrylics and has a fresh take on her subjects, as depicted in “Northern Giant,” by using vibrant colours and strong graphic blocks, patterns and textures.
Although Mark Richards is a wellestablished artist and the owner of the Mark Richards Gallery in Whistler since 2006, he is constantly evolving his technical and artistic process. “I’m always looking for new materials, the latest and greatest art canvas, ink, varnish — those have all been upgraded in the past few years.” Richards employs his own artistic process called photo-stenciling, in which he transforms his digital photography using electronic pens on a tablet to give them a rich, painterly quality. “Red Maple” is an artwork that uses improved materials, and Richards explains the difference: “The canvas gives you more brightness, the inks give you more colour, and the varnish gives you more depth, and richness.”
While the technical considerations are always an important part of his practice, Richards reveals that the real essence of his process is to discover new locations and subject matter. One of his most recent pieces is “Snow Ghosts,” photographed near the peak of Whistler Mountain.
He adds, “Sometimes you realize you don’t have to go far at all. You just have to revisit, look at what you’re familiar with in a new angle, and then you see new things than what you’re already familiar with. And sometimes it’s just a matter of taking the time to see it. And sometimes myself as an artist, I don’t see it until I have the maturity and experience to see it.”