Hosting an art event in a bar has inherent risks (spilled drinks, accidental stumbles, sharp elbows in crowded rooms) but Sharai Rewels has faith in the people of Whistler.
"I'm pretty confident," she says. "I think the last shows we did people were respectful."
Rewels has put together an event that pulls its influence from both Valentine's Day and Whistler Pride Week. Stripped: Art Show (which doesn't feature any actual nudity, despite the suggestive name) will include an art show with work from local and Vancouver artists, as well as a burlesque show performed by both men and women, Feb. 6 and 7 at Maxx Fish. The theme: burlesque and pin up culture.
"I thought it would be fun and interesting to come together under one theme," Rewels says. "There are a bunch of artists — over 20 — and they've got lots of different styles. Some are painters, some photographers, some have been working to create new (pieces) and some have submitted previous work under the theme."
The art will be on sale for under $500 in the hopes that it will be accessible to all, she adds. (Side note: the sales are cash only.) "As an entry-level art buyer, for myself I would prefer to buy something under $500," she says. "People use (art) for different purposes. They can put it on the wall and look at it or follow the artist in their career. I'm hoping to sell the majority of the work there."
Maxx Fish will be set up as a pop-up gallery for the art show, which features work from locals like painters Andrea Mueller, Dave "Pepe" Petko and Kris Kupskay, along with mixed media artist Arne Gutmann and photographer Blake Jorgenson, to name just a few.
"The female form is a very popular subject," Rewels says of the submissions. "Some of the women's interpretations are brash and bold and some of the men (portray) a softer side."
The bar will open at 2 p.m. for public viewings then transform into a burlesque show in the evening. On Feb. 6, Sweet Soul Burlesque, Western Canada's longest running professional burlesque troupe, will perform. "It'll be more of a lounge atmosphere by day and a party at night," Rewels says. "Sweet Soul Burlesque have been together as a dance group for 10 years. They're so talented."
On Feb. 7 the ladies will turn the stage over to a "male revue performance" by Whistler's Wonder Brothers. Rewels is anticipating two very different shows. "The boys are more... I don't know how to put it," she says with a giggle. "We still call it burlesque because it's not the full monty... I think it will be mostly women, which in turn brings out the guys."
In the end, she says, the purpose of the event is two-fold: "I'd like to give arts in Whistler an extra boost," she says. "The Whistler Arts Council does great work, but... if you give artists motivation to create, they will. To be honest, I really like wearing high heels and this is an event I can wear high heels to."