Opinion » Alta States

Arne Gutmann; Seeing the world as artistic playground



"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."

- Albert Einstein

Where do I start? How do I tackle this story? Do I begin by introducing Alta States readers to Arne Gutmann's passion for all things mountain-related? His deep and abiding love for sliding on snow? His many years of snowboard teaching at Whistler/Blackcomb?

Or do I go straight to his groundbreaking work on the poo font? I mean, this guy should have a doctorate in scatology. After all, who else but Gutmann would meticulously photograph his own biological emissions over a 20-year period until he had every letter in the alphabet covered (as well as the numbers) — and then boldly posts his results on the Internet for all to appreciate? See for yourself. Go to poofont.com — for $4.99 you can even download your own copy...

And discover all sorts of fascinating factoids on the font's creator. "None of these individually butt-crafted letters were photoshopped, molded, prodded, or forced into their shape," insists artist/photographer/provocateur Gutmann on his eponymous website. "It's pretty much the most natural font you could ever hope to find on the Interweb. For real! No prodding, or poking my poop with anything, because then I would call it "Poo Poked With A Stick Font", and I do have some, albeit crappy, standards."

Say what? I can already see some of you shaking your heads in disgust. This is supposed to be a column on mountain life. Isn't it? So why the heck is Beaudry writing about a guy taking pictures of his own poop?

Simple — because irreverent, boundary-pushing artists like Arne Gutmann should be celebrated more often around here. Whistler is changing fast. Increasingly dominated by conformists and anal-retentive types (who would never photograph their own poo), our town's "culture" is now mostly defined by the production of big-name entertainment. Forget nurturing local-focused festivals. Or just-for-fun parties. Now it's all about profit. Numbers. Money. Money. Money.

Which is why it's even more vital that we pay attention to those living on the fringes of our ever-greedier community. More than ever we need to celebrate those artists and thinkers and eccentrics who refuse to let the current ideology crush their hopes and dreams. Why? Because it's in those very dreams and hopes that our true destiny lies.

Remember the old days? When Whistler was still celebrated for being slightly loopy? When clothing was optional in summer and the gangela earned its moniker honestly? I know. I know. Those heady years are gone forever. Still, it's worth reminding ourselves just how far we've come since then. And just how much we've betrayed our own roots...

Fortunately, artists like Arne Gutmann still call this place home. I mean the guy never stops producing! Whether it's a new photography exhibition or another crazy, off-the-wall art party, Gutmann has so many different projects in mind that he can barely keep them in order.