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Public art design remembered after 25 years



Creator of the Mushroom House designed an erupting water fountain for Village Square before the recession

Twenty-five years ago, when the Whistler Village site was being transformed from town dump into world class ski resort, a local artist was asked to capture the mood in a piece of public art.

Zube Aylward, who later went on to create Whistler's infamous Mushroom House in Emerald Estates, was commissioned for the job.

His vision was a design for an eruption from deep in the earth, pushing up a granite crust with lava and water cascading down, making a waterfall/water fountain.

It was called A Mountain Born.

"At that period of time it was just when Whistler was getting going and so I wanted to present something that showed the feeling that was around at the time," recalled Zube.

"I just wanted to show the sort of energy... all the hopes and dreams of Whistler just beginning."

But it was 1980 and the recession was just around the corner.

Soon money was scarce and the appetite to spend $100,000 on a piece of public art dried up.

"They were going to get donations from businesses and then when the recession hit there was no appetite for throwing money around," said Aylward.

His design was all but forgotten, relegated to old files in the municipality's Public Works Yard.

Flash forward to 2004. Plans are now underway at municipal hall to bring a new piece of public art to Village Square.

Municipal staff has chosen a tall structure called The Kiosk as the right piece for the square. It is set to go beside the existing map board located in between the liquor store and Citta's.

This news triggered a memory in local photographer Allan Crawford, who bought the first house Aylward designed in Emerald Estates called The Willing Mind.

"It was the cheapest house in Whistler," said Crawford.

"Everybody considered it a tear down."

The eclectic, whimsical house that Crawford bought in 2000 has since become his dream home.

He wanted to get to know the man who had created this home and had to look no further down the road than to the Mushroom House – Aylward’s 25-year labour of love.

After finishing The Willing Mind, Aylward began his building project that would later become famous in a town full of famous award-winning homes.

Like his first house, the Mushroom House brought together the talents of many artists who were allowed to explore their medium.