Two years ago, when Arts Whistler put a callout for art to adorn its Arts Scene magazine, the organization received just four submissions.
Fast-forward to the Winter 2019 edition and "we got 64 (submissions) from a few more than 50 artists," says Mo Douglas, executive director of Arts Whistler.
The seasonal publication features arts and culture events listings from around the Sea to Sky corridor in one handy package—as well as cover art from a different artist each issue. But with so many great pieces submitted and just two slots—the front and back covers—Arts Whistler decided to seize the opportunity and host a new exhibit featuring that work at The Gallery in the Maury Young Arts Centre.
"The work was so good we thought, 'We've got to do a show," Douglas says. "We really struggled (choosing). We had a whole bunch of people pare it down. It was from the perspective of what would work as a good cover."
In the end, they selected First Tracks by Meghan Spence, featuring a colourful backcountry scene, for the cover and Mary Pine's Callaghan Magic, with stunning snow-covered trees for the back.
"I was super surprised," Spence says of having her painting selected. "Personally, it's one of my favourite paintings I've done. It really showed a love for getting out there, which is intrinsic to the Whistler community as well. It embodied Whistler and all the good things about Whistler and the human connection there."
While Spence lives in Abbotsford, she grew up in Vernon—and "I still identify (mountain culture) as my culture," she says. "That's where my painting ends up going."
As part of the upcoming show—dubbed Arts Scene Uncovered—she will be exhibiting a different piece called A Day Well Lived, while First Tracks will be turned into a large, paint-by-numbers piece for those attending the exhibit opening to help complete.
The opening party is set for Feb. 6—with the show running from Feb. 3 to March 4—featuring the work of 50 artists, as well as food, drinks, artist demonstrations and music.
"We've invited all of (the artists)," Douglas says. "The response was really positive ... (It shows) when you throw your work in, it can turn into something else. Now you're in an exhibition. There were some artists we didn't know and now we do. It's always a win."
For her part, Spence—who has exhibited in Whistler before and visits often—says she's looking forward to meeting local artists. "I feel like I know them because I know of them and follow them on Instagram," she says. "I know all their work. It'll be neat to meet some of them in person. I'm super excited to be there and really feel grateful to be part of it."
Catch the opening party for Arts Scene Uncovered on Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Gallery at the Maury Young Arts Centre.