People love a gamble.
That’s the premise behind Arts Whistler’s upcoming Anonymous Art Show fundraiser exhibit. “The idea is you can buy in at a low price point and come away with a piece that’s $400,” says Mandy Rousseau, development officer with Arts Whistler who helped organize the event.
Rousseau came up with the idea after researching what other arts councils in B.C. were doing for major fundraisers. In North Vancouver and on Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast, they all had some version of an anonymous art show where artists submitted work on the same size canvas and people purchased it without knowing who created it.
“The North Vancouver Community Arts Council has been doing it for 14 years,” Rousseau says. “It’s a bit different format… but they have a lineup out the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. and people line up at 4 p.m.” Last year that event had 738 works of art by over 300 local artists.
Arts Whistler’s goal for this year was to collect 200 pieces of art on 20 cm-by-20 cm canvases. “We were very ambitious and we came in with 252,” Rousseau says. “We’re gridding out all the walls in the gallery… We’ll be hanging the show for days!”
The organization put a call out for artists and got a mix of established and emerging talent submitting pieces. That means a range from former Whistler Blackcomb COO Dave Brownlie to legendary local skier and filmmaker Mike Douglas to all three nominees of this year’s Whistler Champion of Arts & Culture award (run as part of the Whistler Excellence Awards), including Angie Nolan, Ace MacKay-Smith and Dave “Pepe” Petko.
“For me, there are three purposes to the event: present emerging and established artists on equal platforms, raise money and increase community awareness of Arts Whistler,” Rousseau says. “We want to engage with individuals who we haven’t engaged with in the past.”
To that end, she’s hopeful that the exhibit’s “buying night” on Friday, April 6 will be a community event packed with people and a flurry of activity at the Maury Young Arts Centre gallery. To participate in that aspect of the fundraiser participants must purchase a $20 entry ticket (that will get you in on the fun, a drink, some food and a chance to see the action). Then they can purchase tickets to buy art at three different tiers.
A $150 ticket (there are 50 of those) will get you first dibs on the art starting at 6:30 p.m., $100 tickets will go next (with 100 spots) at 7 p.m. and then $50 tickets will get the final slot to choose a painting at 8 p.m. (with 50 of those up for grabs). There are also plans to open up purchasing after 9:15 p.m. but the format hasn’t been finalized yet.
While there are traditional paintings, artists also submitted pieces that incorporate pottery, photography and mixed media. “That’s what’s most exciting for me,” Rousseau says. “There’s such an incredible variety… The calibre is really impressive.”
To help organize the order ticketholders can choose a painting within their tier, Arts Whistler will hand out a “bingo card wish list” upon entry (on which to mark down their top paintings) with a random number on the back. That number will determine the order they can select a piece.
“We came up with these prices to keep it accessible,” Rousseau says. “I would encourage people to look at the online gallery, keep an eye on the (Arts Whistler) landing page. We’re going to do a ‘Five Steps to a great Anonymous Art Show experience’ to help people understand the show. We know it’s complex and different and we want to make sure people are going to have fun.”
But if you think there will be an opportunity to peek at the names of the artists, think again. Organizers have devised a foolproof plan to keep that a secret, Rousseau says. Behind each painting will be a decal of that painting with the artist’s name on it so that there aren’t completely bare walls after the art begins to sell. However, “we were strategic about where we put the names,” she adds.
For more information, to purchase tickets or see the art visit artswhistler.com/anonymous.