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ARTdrenaline evokes grace for working theme

Loss and coping seem to sum up 2016

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It seems we could all use a little grace.

And the theme for ARTdrenaline 2017 takes its cue from a tumultuous 2016 in what co-producer Angie Nolan likens to a year of loss and upheaval.

"It just seems there's a little more calm needed and people are searching for grace," she said, adding that the loss of local Chili Thom was particularly difficult.

Thom was a participant in the 2005 ARTdrenaline, in which his performance piece had him running through the audience that, at times, involved: few clothes, fellow dancers, and blowtorches.

Nolan is wistful as she recalls the 2005 performance, and said this year's production will feature a nod to the artist who was one of Whistler's favourites.

"With the loss of Chili and some other friends and artists in the community, we just felt that maybe we needed ARTdrenaline again," she said.

Roughly 30 artists and performers will mark Saturday's World Ski and Snowboard event at the Rainbow Theatre in the Whistler Conference Centre with the immersive art and photo instalment beginning at 7 p.m., and live performances starting at 8 p.m.

ARTdrenaline began in 2005 with Nolan and Katie Schaitel and returns to the WSSF this year with curated works that Nolan thinks will surprise — and evoke grace.

"When people arrive, we'd love for them to immerse themselves in the art aspect, so that will be the first hour — and then go into the theatre and it's music, dance, acting — it's sort of a theatre experience," she said.

Fellow ARTdrenaline team member Monika Rosen said the 2017 theme is universal among fellow actors and artists.

Rosen, who paints portraiture, said she was exploring the idea of interviewing the subjects of her portraits, and brainstorming ensued.

"It just so happened that we discussed resurrecting ARTdrenaline, and we were jotting down words, such as gratitude, embrace, and exploring how we cope," she said. "A word that just stuck out was embrace — and through that, grace. It was oddly serendipitous; our brains were tapped into this idea of grace. This is totally in line with what we want to accomplish in ARTdrenaline."

Rosen, who curated the art pieces with an eye to the performances, said interplay is crucial.

"I think a lot of people see the visual arts as static, on a two-dimensional surface," she said. "Where grace comes in for me, especially, is not only in the ideas but in the process of making the art. I think it's the same for everyone. Moving through the art process with grace is something that I'm learning every day."

Rosen said the works are almost all local, and she tried to find something magical in each artist's work that was submitted.

"Grace meant something to them all, she said. "You'll see varied works from landscapes and social commentary on mental health, to paintings that depict living sustainably."

Nolan said the Whistler art collective is changing — and getting more attention.

"Whistler is really changing the arts now. In some aspects, you can really compare it to the love for sports — the homegrown talent here, the people. Arts is catching up to the sports. Some of the artists are doing pretty brave things, performance wise — they're putting their work out there.

Rosen didn't want to reveal too much about the art and performances.

"It's hard to give too much away," she said. "I don't want to say specifics because a lot of it is the element of surprise. If I say even titles, it might give a lot away. We want people to come on the journey with us."

Tickets are $20 and available at wssf.com in the arts dropdown menu.

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