A&E » Arts

BRAVE Art breaks through boundaries

Fourth exhibition features work by international street artists and broad range of local talent



What: BRAVE Art

Where: TELUS Conference Centre

When: Saturday, April 12 (opening night) to Friday, April 18, noon ‘til late

Tickets: Entry by donation

Street art is everywhere in Whistler. And while it isn’t exactly plastered across the pristine rock-façade walls of the village, you can find it being hauled throughout town on the top sheets and decks of snowboards and skateboards, on goggle frames, and the sides of the kicks your local barista is sporting as he whips up your morning latte.

Now, as part of the fourth annual Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival (TWSSF), locals will have a chance to check out the work of some of the world’s most talented street artists, as they come to Whistler to showcase pieces at BRAVE Art.

The exhibition was first launched in Whistler in 2005, bringing a fresh mix of art fused with the culture of street and board sports to the festival. The bold and innovative show featured a range of local talent and work from well-established street art and skate icons, exposing audiences to a new style of art that merged elements of modern pop culture.

This year, the upcoming exhibition is something of a grand commercial experiment, bringing a massive group show into a 10,000 square foot, well-lit space, and incorporating a broad range of urban art from as far away as London, New York and L.A., with pieces ranging from gritty and dark to vibrant and cartoonish.

Organizers are bringing in some of the “rock stars” of the street art world, like SheOne, Virus and Kwest.

“To be perfectly honest, to see the exhibition that we’re bringing to Whistler… would require you to not only scour through a million magazines to find out who is on the uptake, who’s emerging and who’s hot,” said Darrin Polischuk, director of the 2008 BRAVE Art show.

“Even if you did know, you’d have to go to all of these way out of the way galleries in New York and San Francisco.”

The curators of the show have also tried to include artists who have a connection to the culture of Whistler, or draw inspiration from the snowboarding and skateboarding lifestyle.

“Hip hop culture, and street art, and skate art and skate culture, there’s a common thread between the lifestyle of passion, the no-rules, the ‘fuck ’em, let’s do it anyways’ approach to things,” said Polischuk.

But Polischuk doesn’t want to pigeonhole BRAVE Art as just a street art show — it actually incorporates a wide range of artistic influences, and some very strong, well-known artists from the Pacific Northwest, like Jesse Reno, The Dark, Lauren Javor, and Dave Barnes.

“For us, BRAVE Art is trying to be like this portal between this emerging art scene and the general public in a tasteful way,” explained Polischuk.

While gallery work represents an important revenue stream to these contemporary urban artists, it’s hard to force the creative free spirits into a structured environment and event.

“A lot of these legitimate street artists are like hustlers in the sense that they live in big cities, they’re tied into doing collaborative design work with shoe companies, magazines, they do art for CD covers, DVD covers, like a crazy amount of stuff,” said Polischuk. “Then they go out and they also do their stuff in the public space.”

Appreciation of the arts in mainstream youth culture has blossomed in recent years, with many brands incorporating innovative artwork into everyday products, like clothing and magazines.

“People are experiencing more art in their daily lives today than they ever have, but they don’t know it,” said Polischuk.

There will also be a definite entertainment aspect to the opening party on Saturday night, with DJs Dana D and Lil’ Jaz providing musical stylings for the evening’s events, while street art icons SheOne, The Dark, and Virus paint live, side by side with artists like Ben Tour, Jesse Reno, Lauren Javor and Camilla de Ericco.

Polischuk points out that many people want to feel a special connection to a piece when they are making an investment in art, and the experience of live painting can really help establish that connection by allowing people to see the work that went into creating the finished product.

“A lot of these artists love to talk to people when they paint,” Polischuk said. “It’s like a social experience.”

Though the pieces at BRAVE Art promise to be very different from the typical fine art you see in Whistler, they are still accessible to all generations.

“I want to build BRAVE Art as a way to connect all these myriad types of sort of emerging art cultures to people,” said Polischuk.