On the surface, Andy Irons had it all. A loving wife, a baby on the way, and a renowned surf career that had placed him squarely at the top of the sport. But beneath it all, Irons wrestled with a serious drug addiction and a history of mental illness that few in the multibillion-dollar surf industry seemed willing to discuss openly. Teton Gravity Research's (TGR) latest film, Andy Irons: Kissed by God, which premieres in Whistler this month, addresses Irons' personal demons head on. Irons, who died alone from a drug overdose in a Dallas-Fort Worth airport hotel while on his way home from a competition in 2010, had reportedly wanted to go public about his substance use before his death, before ultimately deciding—some believe under pressure—to stay quiet.
That's what makes TGR's unflinchingly honest biopic so eye opening. In an industry that was long committed to a certain code of silence around substance abuse—Irons' major sponsor, Billabong, initially reported the three-time champion had died from dengue fever—Kissed by God finally gives Irons' story the full scope it deserves. Warts and all.
"This project took shape in the form of the Irons family partnering with Teton Gravity Research on a Kickstarter campaign to make a biopic about his life and address the demons that he faced, as well as his life as a champion," explains Tricia Curmi, whose employer, Sitka, is co-sponsoring a local screening of the film. "It takes a holistic look at his life, but doesn't shy away from the mental health and addiction struggles that Andy Irons had."
Through heartwrenching interviews with Irons' late wife, Lyndie, his brother, and fellow surfers, like his longtime rival, Kelly Slater, we learn more about the surfer's difficulties growing up with bipolar disorder and his later opioid addiction.
It was a message that has particular relevance in a place like Whistler, known for its cutthroat athletic culture and lively party atmosphere, explains Chad Chomlack, photo editor for Snowboard Canada Magazine, which is also sponsoring the screening.
"This is everywhere, but because of the value Whistler places on celebration, which I also hold, it can tend to not just be celebration. Especially when you're using substance abuse to nullify or mellow out some mental health condition, those lines can often be really blurry for people," he says. "Just having that conversation is really important."
Curmi is hopeful the film can start a dialogue for other local athletes who may be going through their own struggles.
"A lot of people have had injuries, a lot of people have had downtime, a lot of people are masking psychological disorders with the hard-partying lifestyle and drug use that is really prevalent in our town, and a lot of people are uncomfortable talking about it and addressing it and don't know where to find help," she says. "I just thought that a film like this about someone like that might be a really helpful thing to have here."
Andy Irons: Kissed by God screens at the Rainbow Theatre on Wednesday, July 25 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5, with profits going to the Whistler Community Services Society. For tickets, visit eventbrite.ca/e/andy-irons-kissed-by-god-tickets-47626750894.
Apply to become a big part of Arts Whistler's Teeny Tiny Show
Whistler's littlest exhibit is set to return to the Maury Young Arts Centre this September, and Arts Whistler is looking for artists who can prove that good things do come in small packages. The Teeny Tiny Show will feature work from Sea to Sky artists across a variety of styles—provided it is eight centimetres by eight centimetres or less in size. The exhibit is scheduled to run from Sept. 10 to Oct. 14. The deadline to apply is July 16, and applications can be found at artswhistler.com/event/call-for-artist-teeny-tiny-show.
Artworks don't have to be completed by the deadline, but applicants can provide a photo of work in a similar style. Already finished works are also acceptable. A maximum of four pieces can be submitted per artist.
All mediums are accepted—except jewelry.
Arts Whistler's inaugural Teeny Tiny Show took place last spring and garnered a healthy level of interest from the community. All the artworks were for sale, with prices starting at $20.
RMOW seeking professional photographers
In a town full of prominent and prolific photographers, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) should have no problem finding one for its latest project.
The RMOW is seeking high-quality photos of the municipality's facilities, programs, services and amenities to be added to its corporate image library.
Successful applicants will need to follow the RMOW's corporate guidelines and provide raw, digital, high-resolution images from a short list of desired shots.
Interested photographers can send Expressions of Interest covering all the different types of images, or they can apply to take one or more types of images.
The deadline to apply closes at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17. The application can be found at whistler.ca/business/doing-business/bid-opportunities/professional-photography-corporate-image-library.
Catch Alberta artist Kerry Langlois painting live at Adele Campbell Gallery
Minimalist landscape artist Kerry Langlois will be at the Adele Campbell Gallery this week for a live painting demonstration.
Working primarily in acrylic and resin on birch panel, Langlois is inspired by the haunting beauty of the Rocky Mountains of her native Alberta.
"I'm interested in the ways the mountains are constantly concealing and revealing themselves through mist, cloud and storm and I can't help but be drawn to the misty and the moody," Langlois writes on her website, kerrylanglois.com.
The live painting demo is set for Thursday, July 14 from noon to 3 p.m. Refreshments provided. The Adele Campbell Gallery is located at #109-4090 Whistler Way in the Shops at the Westin Resort & Spa.