The wind in Squamish is a powerful thing. Not, like, in an inspirational way but in a wreck-your-funky-new-doo sort of way. Have you been down to the Oceanfront? It's a freakin' gale factory down there. You better hold on to your hats down there boys and girls, and we mean that literally.
Of course, where there's bold physical presence, artistic inspiration is not far behind. Hence, the notable Squamish wind has inspired the theme for S
kwxwú7mesh — Mother of Wind, the latest exhibit by the Squamish Valley Artist's Society — better known as VISUALS — and the first to be held in Whistler.
Toby Jaxon, curator for the exhibit, says that the title Mother of Wind is at the heart of Squamish's existence. The natural landscape is what it is precisely because of the wind coming in off the Howe Sound and, as a result, it affects to some extent the art that many of VISUALS's members create.
"As a theme, it was meant to spark some exploration in movement, flow and dynamic expression or that kind of thing," Jaxon says while setting up the exhibit at Millennium Place.
The showcase features 23 artists, most of whom created new works specifically for the exhibit. Others who used pre-existing works tailored them to fit the theme. Mother of Wind encompasses a wide selection of the visual arts, from landscape portraits on canvas to sculptures to dressmaking.
"Most of us are inspired by nature. I know I am. That is a pretty typical theme with many visual artists but not necessarily," Jaxon says, pointing to an abstract metalwork piece by Fran Solar, which expresses movement while holding only the vaguest connection to the natural world.
The variety of techniques and mediums is indicative of VISUALS's members — they encompass all levels of artistry, from professional painters to amateurs seeking a new outlet. Mother of Wind features work from artists who are displaying full-canvas paintings for the first time.
"That goes with our philosophy of promoting any level of artists to be part of the group for development," Jaxon says.
She says VISUALS formed initially to promote the Squamish Valley Art Walk, but has since evolved into an artist's collective and support group. It holds monthly events and critique sessions for members to help improve their work. They have a permanent rotating display in Squamish's Adventure Centre and Jaxon is the curator of the Foyer Gallery in the Squamish Public Library. They're an integral component to Squamish's visual arts pool and are shaping the creative and cultural face of the town.
So come see the effect that Squamish's formidable wind supply has on the visual arts at Skwxwú7mesh — Mother of Wind, running now until Thursday, March 22 at Millennium Place.