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New strokes for TWSSF

State of the Art exhibition returns to original roots of ski, snowboard culture

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"Basically, everybody and anybody could submit a package, whether we knew them or not," Chalmers said.

Last year, there were some huge international names in the street art world, like SheOne, Virus and Kwest. But this year, organizers have decidedly focused on more local creative minds and their take on the lifestyle culture that is part of Whistler's identity. The list of local artists includes names like The Incredible Amoeba, Pepe, Lauren Javor, Robin O'Neill, Toni Lewis, and Tifdyl. Tim Barnard, a.k.a. the Sharpie Artist, is also on deck for this year's exhibition. Barnard creates stark, incredibly detailed black and white illustrations using a simple Sharpie marker. He'll be doing live art at the opening reception, and transforming a shrink-wrapped Pontiac Vibe car into a piece of art, which will then be given away at the end of TWSSF. Andrew Pommier and Derrick Hogson, two well-known Canadian artists, are also on the roster, while Nanami Cowdry's work comes all the way from Sydney, Australia to join the show.

"We've tried to make the content in show more layered," Chalmers said. "So, in doing that, some of the art that's coming in has more complex meaning."

But State of the Art definitely isn't an intimidating gallery experience.

"This is very accessible artwork and we want it to be a really comfortable experience for people, so we don't have sales associates on-hand who are going to accost you, we have gallery associates who are there to host you and make you feel comfortable," she explained.

But if you are in the market for some unique, vibrant lifestyle culture - some of which is crafted right here in Whistler - most pieces will be for sale.

"The show sells out every year, so if you are interested, it's good to come earlier," Chalmers said.

One thing that hasn't been changed is the big party that launches the exhibition each year.

The opening reception will be held on Saturday, April 18, starting at 8 p.m., with New York-based DJ Dom Rockit manning the DJ booth. 90 per cent of exhibiting artists will be on-hand during the free, unticketed evening, some creating live art and others, mingling with guests and art lovers alike.

"I personally think it's the best free event at the festival, if not the best free event in town all year," Chalmers said with a laugh.