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Best Of Whistler 2013 - Media, Arts & Culture


Best Artist/Artisan:

Chili Thom

Chili Thom has a fluid style as a painter that softens the angular realities of the mountains and the trees around Whistler. To that he often adds a dash of the psychedelic in the saturating colour palette he uses, a red or an orange or a streak of almost lime in unexpected places that always enhances the image.

He says: "It's quite an honour yet again to be voted best artist.  It's nice to know that the hard work and commitment to my craft is recognized, as well as my long-time commitment to the arts in our community through various committees, initiatives and years on the Board of Directors of Whistler Arts Council. It gives me the confidence to test my art in a different and new area like New York or London to see if my style still holds the same weight in a larger fish bowl."

Thom has been voted "Whistler's Best Artist/Artisan" every year since 2002, which is no easy feat in a region with many incredible talents. This year, Andrea Mueller and Vanessa Stark own the painterly podium with Thom in second and third, respectively.

Best Gallery:

Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is the top gallery in Whistler for voters in 2013, and executive director Casey Vanden Heuvel is thrilled.

"This is awesome news. We're incredibly proud of our authentic art and artifact displays that we are able to share with our guests. We appreciate that the community recognizes the value that the cultural centre provides, not only to the tourism experience but also to Whistler itself."

As well the museum displays and guided tours by the SLCC's aboriginal youth ambassadors, visitors can buy their own original pieces by indigenous artists from around the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations and beyond at the SLCC's shop.

"We are very proud of our consignment art program, where 75 per cent of the purchase price of hand-crafted art goes directly back to the First Nations artist," Vanden Heuvel says.

Last year's winner Blake Jorgenson is second this year while Art Junction came third.

Best Local Musical Act:

The Hairfarmers

Both "Guitar" Doug Craig and "Grateful" Greg Reamsbottom have something to say about The Hairfarmers being chosen as Whistler's Best Local Musical Act year after year. Together 15 years, the duo is among the hardest-rocking bands at the resort.

Says Greg: "I think this is our 13th year in a row to win this honour. It's really nice because it just goes to show that we still have that really good connection to our fans. A lot of them over the years have become more like family... we've been playing so long that we've watched their kids grow up. They were little babies with headphones on their ears to protect them from the noise and now they're teenage kids who are competing in ski competitions and mountain biking. Pretty neat to see the evolution."

Says Doug: "We just try and bring people together through music and create some kind of harmony in what sometimes appears to be a really disconnected place that we live in. We all want to be happy and music is a temporary fix to that."

Three other local musical icons got high votes also: Ruckus Deluxe, Whole Lotta Led and the Summer Concert Series.

Best Arts & Cultural Event of 2013:

Whistler Film Festival

Executive director of the Whistler Film Festival, Shauna Hardy Mishaw, said the office erupted when they learned they'd been chosen as the Best Arts & Cultural Event in 2013.

"This is absolutely thrilling news!" she says.

"What a high note to end our 13th edition. We began this festival with the goal to help put Whistler on the map for arts and culture. Thirteen years later, we stand proud knowing that our community has truly embraced the fest and our commitment to further the art of film by providing programs that focus on the discovery, development and promotion of new talent," she says.

The aim is to make the WFF the must-attend festival for artists, the wider film industry and Whistler audiences, she adds.

The runners up for this year were the RMOW's Outdoor Concert Series and Cornucopia.

Best Party/Festival of 2013:


Crankworx has grown to be Whistler's largest annual festival, as well as the world's largest freeride mountain bike event. It takes the cake this year for Best Party and Festival.

"What an honour! I would like to thank the team, the RMOW for its support and also the hotel partners of the festival," says Darren Kinnaird, Crankworx' general manager. "We're still working on some things for 2014, we want to expand on our arts and cultural offerings and definitely get more of our local arts and culture stuff integrated into the festival in the way we are already with music. And were working on some new family programming and really trying to blow up our Kidsworx program. We always had an entire day of Kidworx, but now we want to make it a weeklong programming through opening up some new categories in some of our existing races and new competitive and participatory things for kids and families. It will be new for us, but we definitely want to maintain that best party, best festival atmosphere. "

The World Ski and Snowboard Festival came second, while the Whistler Village Beer Festival took the third spot in its first year of operation.

Best Place to See a Live Act:


The Garibaldi Lift Company, which trips off the tongue as the GLC, has one of the handiest perches in town, right above the Whistler Gondola. And once more it was also voted the top venue to see a live act by Whistlerites.

GLC's Derek Pretty says: "That's great news! It is a great perk to be able to come to work and see some of the live bands and DJs that we have playing at the GLC. It is great to see the local community supporting the shows and we appreciate being voted Best Live Music Venue for another year."

The Celtic-flavoured Dubh Linn Gate was ranked second, while Dusty's Bar & Grill in Creekside came third.

Best Celebrity Sighting in Whistler:

Tom Cruise

However you may feel about his couch-jumping antics or any of the other gossip, actor Tom Cruise can work a crowd and pays attention to his public. He's long been known to spend hours at his movie premieres talking to fans, having photos taken and all that good vibe stuff. Cruise is a fan of Whistler and likes it here; clearly Whistlerites like him, too, selecting him as their favourite celebrity to be sighted.

Kiss rock god Gene Simmons and silver-voiced singer Alicia Keys round out the top three.

Favourite Piece of Public Art:

Olympic Rings at Plaza

Our Olympic Rings at the entrance to the Whistler Olympic Plaza which mark where medals won at the resort during the 22nd Winter Olympics in 2010 were awarded has taken this category. Once again, the rings are Whistler's favourite piece of public art. Rarely without a tourist posing for a photo with them, the rings will become even more of a gathering spot this winter with the commencement of the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. The Inukshuk at the entrance to Whistler Village off Highway 99 was selected as the second most popular public artwork, while Mike Tyler's sculpture at Millennium Place of a mother bear and her cub called "Bear Affection" came third.

Best Writer (reporter/author/blogger):

GD Maxwell

It's a bit of a Pique love-in with all three of Whistler's favourite writers coming from this august organ. First, forever first, is GD Maxwell or "Max" as he is known in every corner of the resort.  Max has won top writer for years, thanks to his acerbic and witty views about what is happening in Whistler and beyond.

Feet Banks, who writes Pique's weekly movie review column, makes movies himself, and a great many other things besides, took second. Alison Taylor who covers Whistler's municipal government and other news for Pique took third. In 2012, she won a Jack Webster Award, B.C.'s highest print journalism accolade, for a feature and news series she wrote about the Whistler Health Care Centre.

Best Photographer:

Blake Jorgenson

Blake Jorgenson has taken the prize as Whistler's top photographer once more. Currently, he is working on new material for his gallery's winter show, which opens in January.

"It's always a bit of a whirlwind, always different every year and that's what I think is good about it," he says. "I look at what makes a good representation of Whistler, what people would like to see. The images I put in there are generally based on mountain culture... I like to say there is a little bit of Whistler in everything, even if the photo is from another part of the world. It's Whistler's influence on me and how I see things."

Talented photographers Joern Rohde and David McColm take second and third, respectively.