Visiting ceramic artist Penny Martyn’s home in Emerald Estates is like taking a gallery art tour.
Opening an iron gate into the artist’s equivalent of a secret garden, guests are welcomed by an intricate network of Martyn’s ceramic leaves inlaid in a cement floor. Like a blustery fall day, the leaves climb up steps onto railing pillars leading to the main house.
Nature sneaks indoors with Martyn’s environment-inspired handiwork sprouting from every room in the house. Sometimes a stone beach stretches out vividly across the wall, other times a wooded ceramic forest becomes a floorboard.
Martyn’s imagination knows no boundaries. The Whistler resident of 13 years recently completed a two-month bathroom shower project in West Vancouver of more than 900 handmade tiles arranged to create a lively underwater scene of fish, turtles, and sand dollars.
Ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary: a dog water bowl becomes a colourful chalice perched on cartoon-like dog feet. The common candlestick ignites with ceramic bear faces stacked atop each other.
Art appears more practical than ornamental, a part of everyday living in the Martyn home that includes an artist studio and kiln.
Over tea we talk about her upcoming showcase in the Whistler Arts Council’s largest Whistler-wide exhibit, ArtWalk, in which businesses around town are transformed into temporary galleries to display local talent for the month of July.
"It gets people out to see what local artists have to offer and as a group it gets you out to really enjoy the atmosphere of the venues," says Martyn between sips from her Japanese-style ceramic mug. A fern leaf inlay rests in a background of mossy green with gold flecks on the pottery finish.
"It’s tough for artists to have a place to display their work. ArtWalk is a chance for people to see our local artists," she said. "So many people come here and have no concept that there is an art world here. It’s a small town, but, boy, does it ever have a lot of great artists."
The month-long community exhibit scattered amongst coffee shops, hotels, retail outlets and restaurants in Whistler Village and the Upper Village displays everything from photography and painting to jewelry and sculpture.
The public is invited to celebrate with artists at ArtWalk opening receptions Friday, June 30 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at participating businesses throughout Whistler.
Martyn will exhibit her Whistler-scene bowls, ocean-bordered serving trays, alpine candlesticks and doggie décor, including everything from bowls to doorknobs, at one of her two ArtWalk locations: the Adele Campbell Gallery located on Art Gallery Row at the Hilton and Skitch located on the Village Stroll.
Other venues and artists to check out include Theresa Mura at Amos & Andes; Vincent Massey at Apres Restaurant; John Hewson at Behind the Grind; Barry Wilson at Black Tusk Gallery; Dave Petko, Greg Eymundson and Adina Gwatkin at Blenz; Jen Ingram at Citta Bistro; Daniel Poisson and Wim Tewinkle at Cyber Web Internet Café; Joan Baron at The Daily Planet; Oli Roy and Ian Roberston at The Escape Route; Cary Lopes and Simon Bedford at Esquire Coffee House; Borgi Rayen, Duane Perret, Sarha Holt and Creagh Hawthorne at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler; Lindsay McLennan at Farfalla; Cary Lopes at Gone Bakery & Soup Co.; Ian Robertson at Hilton Whistler Resort; John Hewson at Hotbox Coffee & Internet; Sarah Stevenson at Activity Central; Tasscha Lico at Lotus Art Supplies; Erin Sieber at Merlin’s; Josee St. Amour at Moguls Coffee House; Lianne and Lillian Gulka at Mountain Galleries; Pat Griffiths at Mountain Moments Gallery; Lynn Pocklington at The Path Gallery; Greg Eymundson at Remax; Tess Klein at Ruby Tuesday; Vanessa Stark at Westbeach; Mark Richards and Joan Baron at Whistler Real Estate; and Evan Biswanger, Jill Brown, Marie France Cournoyer, Ann Hurst, Sharon Jensen, Eva Konyari, Karen Love, Samantha Mason, Kathryn Brimacombe, Stan Matwychuck and Julia Vagelatos at MY Millennium Place.
Just follow the red and black balloons and roaming street entertainers to check out the free kick-off event this Friday. MY Millennium Place will also host a special gallery, ArtWalk Eclectica, showcasing multiple artists. Artists will be on site during the opening receptions.
"It’s a great night to meet other people in the community," said event organizer Kelly Clarke of the Whistler Arts Council. "People can sit and chat with the artists and it’s great for visitors to integrate into our community and see this side of us."
ArtWalk brochures with maps are available at all participating venues as well as the Whistler Arts Council, MY Millennium Place, and Whistler Activity and Information Centres.