"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web."
- Pablo Picasso
She must be insane. Totally off her rocker. But no, she assures me she's perfectly rational. "It's something I've dreamed about for years," says artist Penny Eder Martyn about her soon-to-open White Dog Studio Gallery. "And I know the Whistler community is ready for this kind of business." She laughs. "At least, I hope it is..."
I hope so too. Nestled in the entrepreneurial gumbo that is 21st century Function Junction, Eder Martyn's Studio Gallery has a brave new vision: to celebrate and promote Whistler-based art and artists, which, to most knowledgeable observers, is a revolutionary move in itself. And one fraught with financial risk. But don't bother warning Penny about it. She won't listen. You see she's on a mission to change the way the local art scene is perceived around here.
"Too often in this town," explains the enthusiastic blonde, "Whistler-based artists have gotten the short end of the promotional stick. It's almost like we're insecure about our culture here. Like we need to bring in outsiders' art to compensate for our lack of standing in the 'real' world. But that's so-o-o-o-o wrong!" She pauses for a breath. Smiles sadly. "There's so much good art being produced by locals now. So why do our decision-makers still insist on bringing in outsiders to define who we are?"
Good question. And one that many Whistlerites have been scratching their heads about for years. So what's with the gallery's name then? "I'm on my third white dog — all Samoyeds," she says with a self-conscious shrug. "It's been a constant in my life. So... when I decided to name the studio after something stable, well, 'White Dog' is about the most stable thing in my world these days..."
Indeed. And it fits — particularly if you take the time to get to know this energetic 50-year-old.
Really. I get to meet a lot of people in my work as an itinerant storyteller. Particularly in Sea to Sky country. From the hardcore 20 somethings to the still-charging 60 somethings, this valley attracts a cartload of positive-minded folk. But no one I've met yet can match Eder Martyn's zeal for the place. To call her a "Whistler booster" is to wax woefully inadequate. She's far more than a mere booster. She lives, breathes, sweats, sings, cries and laughs this place every second of every day she spends here.
"This is the most wonderful spot to live in the whole world," she insists. "The mountains, the snow — the wildness of our surroundings — in my opinion nowhere else even comes close." See what I mean? This is not someone content to just stand by and watch. She gets involved. A long-time volunteer member of the W/B ski patrol — and a passionate skier from her earliest years — Eder Martyn appears to live the "healthy mind in healthy body" dictum to its fullest.