LIFTing the Community
Retired Catskinner Chairs Find New Life As Works of Art with LIFTing the Community
Outdoor Exhibit: Whistler Village and Upper Village | FREE, all ages | June – August, 2021
Auction: LIVE ONLINE | August 1 – September 7, 2021
The first stage of an exciting new arts initiative, LIFTing the Community, has been completed! Over the past several weeks, local artists have transformed 15 retired Catskinner ski lift chairs into works of art, reflecting the theme of belonging as perceived by 15 community groups that actively contribute to community life.
LIFTing the Community has been created to enhance the sense of belonging in Whistler and the Sea to Sky. Whether Whistler is home for a season or a lifetime, a sense of belonging benefits us all. In our ever-growing and changing community, wellness, connection and a sense of home needs to be fostered, practiced, discussed and experienced by our community.
With support from Vail Resort’s Epic Promise fund, in partnership with Tourism Whistler and the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, Arts Whistler has paired some of the Sea to Sky’s most exciting artists with 15 community groups to reimagine trusty old Catskinner lift chairs into compelling works of art. Tourism Whistler recently provided space for the artists to work in the Whistler Conference Centre.
Video and photo updates from the artists’ creation phase can be seen here, and the story behind each chair will be shared by weekly videos running July through August. The reimagined chairs will be on display throughout the summer in Whistler Village for people to explore, experience and discover their own spirit of belonging. Chairs will be auctioned off in late August with the funds going to the community organizations to support their programs that support community belonging and wellbeing.
Participating artists and groups:
- Arts Whistler | Anna Lynch
- Audain Art Museum | Dave Petko/Liz Thomson
- AWARE | Ben Poechman
- Kids on the Move | Kris Kups
- Mature Action Community | Tonnja Kopp
- The Point Artist Run Centre | Sherry Klassen
- Squamish Arts Council | Kendra Hicks
- Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre | Taka Sudo
- Whistler Adaptive Sport Program | Vanessa Stark
- Whistler Blackcomb Foundation | Mike Tyler
- Whistler Community Foundation | Stan Matwychuk
- Whistler Community Services Society | Laura Scarr
- Whistler Museum and Archives | Alyssa Bruijns
- Whistler Public Library | Michaela Ivancova
- Whistler Youth Centre/Alphabet Soup | Ace Mackay-Smith/Mercedes Nicoll
With thanks to our sponsor Epic Promise, and project partners:
Thanks to Neutron Factory Works for production support.
Accommodation provided by:
Learn more about all of our participating community groups and the artists paired with them:
Arts Whistler is the lead agency for arts and culture in Whistler and strives to make creativity a part of everyone’s Whistler experience. We program, promote and advocate for the arts and local artists, while providing residents and visitors with access to bold, inspiring, and engaging experiences in the arts. Working closely with community cultural partners and the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Arts Whistler operates the Maury Young Arts Centre on behalf of the RMOW. We are a registered charity established in 1982.
Paired with artist Anna Lynch
A self-declared “British craft nerd”, Anna Lynch made Whistler her home in 2010 and has been creating artwork in the Sea to Sky Corridor ever since. With a focus on tactile artworks, Anna primarily uses textile mediums such as weaving, felting, knitting, sewing and beading together with painted canvas. She combines traditional techniques and modern design to make each work unique.
|Audain Art Museum
Established in 2016, the Audain Art Museum is a leading arts organization founded upon the major philanthropic gift of Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa. Located in Whistler, British Columbia and designed by the internationally-renowned firm Patkau Architects, the AAM boasts a comprehensive Permanent Collection of the province’s most celebrated artists. Exemplifying the richness of cultural difference in Canada, the collection takes visitors on a transformative visual journey from the late 18th century to present. Highlights include hereditary Haida Chief James Hart’s The Dance Screen (The Scream Too), an exceptional collection of historical First Nations masks, and key examples of the Vancouver photo conceptualism movement. In addition, the Museum hosts dynamic exhibitions from around the world.
Paired with artists Dave Petko & Liz Thomson
Dave Petko and Liz Thomson have created large scale art installations around North America for music festivals such as Tortuga Music Festival, Pemberton Music Festival, Lost Lands Music Festival and Bass Coast Music Festival. They are both skilled at using recycled and upcycled materials in our art. They are both painters, builders, make multimedia artworks as well as digital artwork.
Dave is an established local artist with 25+years experience, and owns, operates and tattoos at Black Ohm Tattoos in Function junction for the past 24 years.
The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) has been Whistler’s environmental charity for over 30 years. We work independently and with others to respectfully connect people with nature and build more sustainable communities by progressing community-scale solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time: Climate Change; Biodiversity Loss; Habitat Fragmentation; Species Protection; Waste, Water & Energy Conservation.
Paired with artist Ben Poechman
Benjamin Jacob Poechman was born and raised on an organic egg farm in the foothills of southern Ontario. With big mountain dreams and a passion for snowboarding he graduated high school and headed straight for Whistler, BC. After five years of working seasonally to fund the adventurous winter pursuits of an aspiring professional snowboarder, he began to search for a better balance. In 2017, Ben quit his job landscaping to explore a more soulful purpose. His first discovery was an apprenticeship at a stone carving studio in Function Junction. There he began creating stone inukshuks for an art gallery over the summer, which led to full time employment and eventually the skills he needed to create pieces harvested from his own imaginations. The miracle of creative expression consumed him that first year, as he began to experiment and explore new mediums to share his dreams and inspirations. Ben first started painting water colours for birthday gifts and random acts of kindness for friends and family. He later discovered acrylics, and canvas, as a whole new world opened up to him. Now, Ben’s focus has shifted from “what” he is creating to “why”. With this newfound approach he continues to find new ways to bring about positive change through each new series of work. While he continues to explore new mediums, the root intentions for his work run deep.
|Kids on the Move
Supported by the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and run by Whistler Community Services Society, Kids on the Move provides funds to young people up to 17 years old in need of financial support for arts and sport programs.
Paired with artist Kris Kups
Whistler, BC is where I currently call home, as a painter and mural artist, life close to the mountains makes the most sense. I look to inspire with styles of street art and realism with many different mediums. As I evolve as an artist and art mentor, opportunities to work with kids and communities on creating something beautiful are something I find extreme value in. Being able to share my passion and engage participants at the same time is an unbelievable feeling. Art is the focus, Painting is the tool, Good Vibes are the message13 years Professional Artist.
|Mature Action Community
MAC strives to make Whistler an inclusive, supportive community where residents can actively and comfortably age in place. They connect, engage and advocate for Whistler seniors. Seniors who have contributed many working years to the community, continue to be of benefit and value to the community, as they provide a valuable historic knowledge of the community; typically have a high degree of community volunteerism; provide greater demographic diversity; and contribute to stronger family and social structures.
Paired with artist Tonnja Kopp
Tonnja Kopp’s passion lies in the act of creation. She was born in Canada but raised in Switzerland where her experiences cultivated her love for art.
|The Point Artist-Run Centre
The Point Artist-Run Centre (PARC) was formed in 2009 by a diverse group of Whistler artists working in a variety of disciplines. These artists saw the need for a creative centre that would incubate artistic activity through affordable live and work space, offer educational and mentorship opportunities, and encourage collaborative projects between artists within and outside the community that engage the public. PARC has been a registered non-profit society in BC since March 2010. It operates out of a municipally-owned property at 5678 Alta Lake Road in Whistler. As its name implies, PARC is run by artists with a 10-member board of directors, an artistic director, events assistant and many generous volunteers. PARC hosts events featuring live music, theatre and comedy, an annual summer theatre and arts festival, a winter carnival, a summer arts open house series called Sundays at The Point, weekly Artist Sessions providing creative work space, children’s theatre and music day camps, and workshop and mentoring opportunities for local artists. The lodge has a commercial kitchen license, and there is an adjacent cabin for occasional artist-in-residence programs. PARC provides many working opportunities for artists through performances, project development and arts instruction with an aim to weave artistic activity into the economic and social fabric of the community.
Paired with artist Sherry Klassen
Sherry Klassen is an emerging artist who paints primarily in acrylic. She is inspired by all things west coast, in particular birds and animals. She also does commissions for people and is particularly inspired by people’s pets. She chooses to paint images that bring a bit of happiness or humor to add a little joy to the world. Sherry is currently working on her painting certificate at Emily Carr University. She loves experimenting with different styles and techniques as she continues to push herself to improve her skills. She has had several pieces exhibited and sold at different events and galleries over the past few years including; The Seymour Art Gallery – Art Party, MAB Art Studio, Art World Expo – Vancouver, City Gallery – North Vancouver -The Anonymous Art Show, Pancakes and Booze Art Show – Vancouver, Roam Gallery – Ontario – Canuck Show, We are Family, Animal Love – Solo Show, Harris Barn Show, and High, Low – Holiday Show, Arts Whistler – Art Scene Uncovered, The Anonymous Art Show and Think it Over. Her paintings are available to purchase through Roam Gallery and Arts Whistler.
|Squamish Arts Council
The Squamish Arts Council’s vision is to see arts and culture are embedded into the fabric of Squamish’s community and considered a vital component of its identity. Our Mission is to raise awareness of, and improve access to arts and culture in Squamish while supporting local artists. Improving access to arts resources and programs helps build strong community connections, strengthens the foundation for growth and development of local emerging artists, and helps build capacity to support high quality, accessible, and sustainable arts programming for the community.
Paired with artist Kendra Hicks
Kendra’s paintings express the feeling of being captivated and utterly mesmerized by the magic of the mountains. Kendra draws inspiration from all of her mountain adventures. Whether she’s skiing deep powder or climbing granite faces, she’s influenced by the feelings brought on by adventurous moments. She finds herself constantly inspired by the pure beauty of the landscapes she explores. From an early age, the mountains became Kendra’s biggest love and passion. She’s incessantly inspired for the next adventure. A mountain girl through and through, she’s ski toured and climbed all over Western Canada, and works as a guide in both the summer and the winter. Kendra is a self-taught artist. After buying a small collection of paint, one brush, and a sketch book in the Summer of 2015, she immediately became hooked and hasn’t looked back. All of her paintings are acrylic on Canvas and they’re all of mountains.
|Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) is the first centre of its kind in Canada. Two Nations came together to celebrate and share their cultures with the world while creating meaningful employment opportunities for members of both the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxumixw (Squamish Nation, Coast Salish) and Lil̓wat7úl (Lil’wat Nation, Interior Salish). Designed to evoke the form of a Squamish Longhouse and Lil’wat Istken (earthen dwelling), the SLCC stunningly embodies the spirit of partnership between our two unique Nations who wish to preserve, foster, and share their traditional cultures. The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Lil̓wat7úl have coexisted respectfully as neighbors since time immemorial. We have thrived on the bounty of the ocean, the rivers, and the land — living in close relationship with the world around us. Our cultures are grounded in rich, ancient traditions, and continue to grow and evolve in a modern world. Many First Nations communities, including the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, were oral societies (it was not until the 1970s when both our Nations created written languages), and storytellers had the immense and important role of being historians for their community. Unfortunately, when the flu and small pox epidemic decimated our communities, many stories were lost – and again from 1881-1949 when children were forcibly removed from their parent’s homes and sent to residential schools. In building the SLCC, our two distinct Nations created a space to revitalize the culture we were fortunate to preserve. Today, the SLCC is a culture-first employer, is a conduit for the revival of two languages facing extinction, and is an essential service in Canada’s journey towards Truth and Reconciliation. We will continue to share our cultures and histories in an honest and respectful environment. By sharing where we are from and where we are going, we strive to inspire understanding and respect amongst all people, and we hope that by visiting our Cultural Centre, our friends and guests will embrace this vision and live by it, too.
Paired with artist Taka Sudo
Born and raised in Tokyo, now residing in Vancouver Canada and takes influences from these totally different environments to create his unique style of artworks. Scattered abstract elements composed of neon color, neutral color, newsprint, photo collage and more are assembled into organic shapes, to find out the strong true energy among real and unreal. Those scattered various elements of abstraction are the representation of our environment, existence, daily life, current affairs, information, and each person’s passion, and energy. Through the adventure between reality and abstraction, you may be able to find your own dynamo to start a bright day with beautiful people.
|Whistler Adaptive Sport Programs
WASP is a not-for-profit society that provides year-around, sport and recreational programs for people of all ages with physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities. We are committed to introducing as many individuals with a disability as possible to sport, recreation and therapeutic programming.
Paired with artist Vanessa Stark
Vanessa “Nes” Stark was born during a mid-winter snowstorm on Canada’s West Coast. At 17, Nes followed her passion for snowboarding and found her perfect home in Whistler B.C. Fifteen years later she moved up the road to beautiful Pemberton. Her life has been shaped by her love for the mountains, adventures in nature, animals, snowboarding, mountain biking, family, friends and community.
|Whistler Blackcomb Foundation
The Whistler Blackcomb Foundation is dedicated to providing financial support to organizations whose activities provide benefit to residents of the Sea to Sky Corridor in the areas of health, human services, education, recreation, arts & culture and the environment with a special emphasis placed on youth and family programs. Annually the Foundation donates a million dollars in grants to local non-profits.
Paired with artists Mike Tyler and Bob Van Engelsdorp
Artist, sculptor, entrepreneur. Mike is a self-taught Canadian artist. Since beginning on his creative path, Mike’s various styles of art have left their mark in, and on, some of the finest homes in Whistler, B.C and beyond. His art, as well as many other creations, have become well known, for their unique style and attention to detail. Born in Toronto in 1968, Mike grew up in Georgetown, Ontario. At this home he began at an early age working on all sorts of creative interests and inventions that eventually turned into a passion and career. After finishing Business College in Ontario at the age of 21, he moved to British Columbia. The environment that came from this move lead to his connection to nature, and his interest in the materials it is created with. This greatly influenced his overall style and medium choices. Along this path, using his natural desire to work with his hands and tendency to be drawn to materials that are natural, solid and “stand the test of time”, Mike turned to construction and specialized in stone work of many types leading to his interest in stone carving and sculpting. Mike currently lives in Mount Currie, B.C., running his business which incorporates rock-scape construction, mixed with small and large scale art of many different styles. By combining both of these interests he has created several public art projects that can be seen in the Sea to Sky area.
Bob Van Engelsdorp
Bob Engelsdorp is a local firefighter who has always been an artist at heart. Bob and Mike have created many amazing creations together. They definitely are the dynamic duo!
|Whistler Community Foundation
The Whistler Community Foundation is the steward of money gifted to the community and provides grants in the areas of environment, arts and culture, social service and education. Our vision is to be impactful in supporting the charities and organizations that address evolving community needs. The WCF is a long-term savings account for the community. We are committed to investing in a thriving community where charities have a long term source of stable funding to support their full range of programs and services. Donors are able to give back to the community in a way that creates personal meaning for them and impact on the community through supporting various Funds.
Paired with artist Stan Matwychuk
An artist and a jack of industry trades makes Stan Matwychuk of Homebase Studios a well-rounded hands-on creative and community collaborator. With almost 20 years invested into the Howe Sound corridor, Stan finds that lifestyle and work intertwine into a seamless experience. Stan moved to Squamish in 2010 and hit the ground running. He has worked with corporate mega-brands like CTV and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, as well as finding time to teach art classes to youth in the corridor through studio classes and high school programs. He has facilitated the Fields Community Mural Project in Downtown Squamish on Winnipeg and Cleveland Avenue. He has run and operated the artist-run centre Homebase Studios at the end of Second Ave. Here artists and the community reciprocate the need for each other and incubate creativity along the way. From elder to youth Stan has always allowed time to teach and inspire for the arts. Stan represented the studio at Live at Squamish as well as throwing Squamish’s first Culture Days Block Party, which was a pan-Canadian arts initiative. In Whistler, Stan sat on the lots 1/9 Community Dialogue for the Celebration Plaza Plan before, during and after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
He has also collaborated with Mike Tyler and the new Whistler Public Library to create the Donor Wall/ Book Drop Off. Furthermore, Stan also spearheaded the first legally commissioned mural in Whistler with local artist legend Chili Thom and aspiring youth artist Devin White on the Terry Rodgers Bridge.
|Whistler Community Services Society
Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) has a strong history of quickly responding to the needs of the community using an effective, collaborative and unique approach. WCSS works with community partners, members, funders and other non-profits to “Provide programs and services that support and advocate for a healthy community”. Starting in 1989 with only two programs, Food Bank and Santa’s Hampers; WCSS has continued to flourish with the success of two social enterprises the Re-Use-it Centre and The Re-build-it Centre, and have increased programming to over 25 different services. Most importantly, our Outreach program provides no-cost, confidential support for those experiencing challenges with mental health, financial insecurity, advocacy, physical health and injury, housing, food insecurity, substance use, employment, family/friend relationships, or violence/conflict in relationships. Our success would not be possible without the continuous support and unwavering devotion from our volunteers, our staff, our stakeholders and ultimately our donors; the community of Whistler.
Paired with artist Laura Scarr
Laura Scarr is a contemporary landscape painter. In 2008, she received a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Guelph. After graduating, Laura moved to Whistler and has been finding inspiration in the mountains ever since. Laura is fascinated with the moments in photographs that have failed to capture reality. Specifically, where the excess of light distorts the colors and forms within an image to the point where reality is suggested but unclear. In these moments beautiful colors blur and distort to create a veil over reality. Using the language of these distortions in her paintings allows her to create landscapes which, although visible, maintain their own mysteries. Within a modern culture where we are bombarded with information, Laura’s sense of true beauty lies in the quiet moments that allow us to contemplate and embrace the unknown. The wild landscapes of British Columbia have provided her work with a starting point which Laura uses to morph into abstract explorations of light and color. Whether it is a sunrise bursting through snowy trees or light cascading through a forest canopy, the light that bursts through the landscapes of British Columbia is the main source of inspiration for Laura’s work.
The Whistler Museum & Archives shares stories of Whistler’s past, from the days of fishing lodges and logging to the development of skiing and beyond. The Whistler Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, documenting and interpreting the natural and human history of mountain life in the area.
Paired with artist Alyssa Bruijns (Snowline Art)
Alyssa Bruijns is a Canadian adventurer who brings stunning natural landscapes to the world of pen and ink through her work under the name Snowline Art. Clean lines, dot work, and delicate details bring her passions to paper, focusing on themes such as environmental preservation, Canadian landscapes, wildlife, mountain sports, and mountain culture. Her home in Whistler inspires every inked creation. She enjoys mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and travelling to places that will get her out and about.
|Whistler Public Library
The Whistler Public Library was formed in December of 1985 by a dedicated group of community-minded citizens meeting in the basement of the Whistler Municipal Hall. Through the generosity of the Rotary Club of Whistler, materials and labour were provided to finish the interior of the 1400-square foot space which opened to the public on August 27, 1986. The library was open 4 days per week for a total of 16 hours. The collection consisted of 4,600 brand new books and by the end of 1986 the library had 380 card holders. In December of 1994, the library moved to a new 2800 square foot location in Village North and in 1999 became part of the Resort Municipality of Whistler as a tax-supported municipal facility. By 2005, the library was open 51 hours per week, employed 10 staff members and loaned almost 150,000 items to 5,670 card holders. In January 2008, the library opened the doors on the LEED Gold certified 12,000 square foot facility it currently calls home. Since moving to this facility the library has continued to evolve in accordance with its moniker as “Whistler’s Living Room”. On average the library receives over 250,000 visitors per year serving locals, second homeowners and tourists from around the globe.
Paired with artist Michaela Ivancova
Michaela Ivancova, also called MachiMela, is a passionate artist that finds inspiration in nature and personal experiences. She focuses on depicting events from her personal life and her own states of mind. Her past experiences and opportunities have guided her in this direction allowing her art to tell her story. Michaela is a graduate of Presov University in Slovakia with a Major in Fine Arts. As part of her studies, she also attended Shenzhen University in China and Rzeszow University in Poland in order to get broader views of art scenes in the world. Coming to Whistler opened many possibilities for her artistic visions. Mountains and animals became her new inspirations which she depicts in various media. She is creating customized wooden pieces or other mixed media works. Wooden inlays, pyrography, acrylics and epoxy are her main mediums.
|Whistler Youth Centre(YC)/Alphabet Soup
The YC has been operating for over 15 years and is a successful tool used by the Whistler community and visitors. We work with youth 13-18 years of age and primarily function as a drop in center with a referral capacity, linking youth to various resources (mental, sexual health & educational resources etc.) We also create programs and special events for our youth clientele. Our mandate is to create a safe and stimulating environment for all youth to call their own.We work closely with Whistler Secondary School and other local organizations such as: Whistler Community Services Society, Whistler Public Library, Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Alliance, & LUNA (partner program focusing on 18-35 year olds), to name a few. The Youth Workers and Program Leaders at The YC also act as a referral source for youth and assist them with things like attaining a new or first job, reference letters, school & social struggles, mental health, and really any issues that one might have. Alphabet Soup is a monthly drop-in program for LGBTQ+ individuals along with their friends, family, and allies. A place to make friendships and build community while sharing some fun activities as well as resources, ideas, successes, and challenges.
Paired with artists Ace MacKay-Smith and Mercedes Nicoll
Immature artist. Professional scrounger.
Ace MacKay-Smith has been repurposing materials all her life (ask about her toaster head) and riding chairlifts even longer, so this project fit her to a T-bar. Besides ski bum, Ace was voted Whitsler’s favourite DJ (Pique Newsmagazine) and has been a filmmaker, event producer (Art+Soul), writer, photographer, dancer and grilled cheese eater.