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abstract:Summer is a favorite season in Whistler. The days grow long, the valley heats up, and people spread out to hike, bike, golf, canoe, dine al-fresco and participate in the village's summer art programs put on by the Whistler Arts Council. This summer Whistler Reads is adding to the fun. On Thursday July 30th, 2009 at 7:30 pm at the Whistler Public Library we'll be discussing Sarah Thornton's award-winning book about the Contemporary Art scene titled, Seven Days In The Art World. "It's a literary-art event", says Founder Paula Shackleton "that starts with delicious Cedar Creek wines and light jazz entertainment, followed by an impressive five-member panel of local to international art specialists who will gather to discuss this book from their various perspectives within the art world. If you are an artist, a collector, a gallery owner or simply interested in this fascinating subculture, ask yourself: Why is the art market thriving despite the economy? What defines art? How does an artist achieve success and even fame? How do curators determine what to collect? Join us!

Use the link to purchase the book online today and slip it into your beach bag or suitcase for summer reading. If you're a local, pick-up a copy from Armchair Books in the village. "I can't think of a better way to celebrate the fusion of art and books," says Shackleton. Listen to BookBuffet's interview with the author, Sarah Thornton. (Podcast here.)


June 01, 2009


This book is the best thing to come out in years to help de-mystify the art world. It has received serious critical as well as popular acclaim everywhere. "Seven Days" covers every segment of the art world: from art auctions, to art institutes, to art fairs and art schools, to art prizes, the media and the professionals that make up the art culture. Following along with Sarah in the book, the reader gets an intimate look at a Christie’s London art auction, the scene at the Basel Art Fair, inside a “crit” at CalArts, the people and drama surrounding the Tate’s Turner Prize, visits to the studio of Japanese iconic Modern Art phenomenon, Takashi Murakami in Tokyo, and finishing up with the Biennale in Venice.

The Book-Art Installation

To compliment the event we are excited to announce the installation of a stunning book-art sculpture—yes, it's constructed entirely of books!) Located in the library it will serve as appropriate eye-candy for the event and become a popular stop on the Whistler ArtWalk tour. "Books are usually forgotten items that take up space on our shelves collecting dust. When used as a medium for construction they transform words, stories, history into art in a veritable tower of Babel that defies gravity as they "spill" out in a fountain-like form, their pages flapping and intriguing us to look beyond the meaning of words into metaphors of thought, culture and language taking form," writes Galerie Galica who represents the Spanish Contemporary artist, Alicia Martin from whom this piece was inspired by her piece, "Bibliographia" (Madrid) which used 5,000 books in its construction.

How To Become a Whistler Reads Member

Join the fastest growing book group in BC. Meet locals and people from around the globe. Members receive: A chance to win a free copies of our current title; 10% discount on books from Armchair Books; Discounts to any ticketed special events and courses; E-mail updates on latest events with discussion points and related research; The opportunity to take part in various programs.
  • Click JOIN
  • Select "Invited to join an existing book group"
  • Type in "Whistler Reads" (no quote marks) in the field asking for the name of the group
  • Fill in the rest of your information - and - ta da You're IN!
  • Log in. Browse the member list. Post a message on the forum. Check the book archive list. Tell us what you're reading or what you'd like the group to read next.

  • About The Author

    Sarah Thornton is a Canadian who went to Britain on a Commonwealth Scholarship. She has a BA in Art History and a PhD in Sociology. Thornton’s PhD was published as Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. She co-edited the first edition of The Subcultures Reader. She has written about art, the art world, and the art market for many publications, including The Economist, Artforum, The Art Newspaper, and The New Yorker. She has contributed to BBC, CBS and ZDF television programs as well as numerous NPR and BBC radio shows. Once a member of faculty at Sussex University where she ran the MA in Media Studies, Thornton then became a Visiting Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is now a freelance writer who has given guest lectures at many universities, contributed to a wide range of conference panels, and conducted interviews on stage at events such as the Hay-on-Wye Festival.

    For one long year, Thornton did undercover ethnographic research by working full-time as a brand planner in a major transnational advertising agency. Her plan was to write a book about the experience but she settled on publishing an article and had two children instead. Since 2003, Thornton has been researching the inner workings of the international contemporary art world. Her book, Seven Days in the Art World, is based on in-depth interviews with over 250 people and hundreds of hours of participant observation.

    With Charlene Lau for Canadian Art (April 2009)
    With Bert Archer for The Globe & Mail (15 April 2009)
    With Paula Shackleton for 2009)

    The New York Times says,
    “Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton is a field guide to the nomadic tribes of the contemporary art world. The book was reported and written in a heated market, but it is poised to endure as a work of sociology… Where others would be content to gawk and gossip, she pushes her well-chosen subjects to explore the questions ‘What is an artist?’ and ‘What makes a work of art great?”

    Alan Yentor, creative director at the BBC says,
    “It’s like having your own spy in the art world. Thornton parachutes the reader into the fascinating nitty-gritty of how it all works.”

    Annalyn Swan, co-author of DeKooning: An American Master says:
    “A smart, engagingly written insider’s look at the machinations and manipulations of today’s art world…. A great read.”

    Grayson Perry, (artist) says:
    “Seven Days in the Art World” is a great page-turner, I worry that the book demystifies things so much that the next generation of artists will be overinformed.”

    Meet the Panelists

    Susan Almrud, Art Advisor (Vancouver-New York)
    Susan is a highly regarded modern art advisor who has owned a gallery and now travels the world to auctions, art shows and galleries to collect art for her select clientele. She was responsible for all the art installations in the Four Seasons Hotel, Whistler (one of my favourite pieces being the photograph of the upside-down tree). She is highly knowledgeable and can speak to the collector's perspective as well as the consultant’s. She attends Art Basel, Miami Basel… all the art shows and has an office in Chelsea, NY situated at the heart of modern art galleries and artist studios. Her list of acquired artists include Cecily Brown, Peter Doig, Gerhard Richter, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Rudolf Stingel, Gabriel Orozco, Vera Lutter, Rodney Graham, Luc Tuymans, Anish Kapoor, Chris Ofili, Catherine Opie, Jean Michel Basquiat, Christopher Wool and Andy Warhol.

    Stephanie Friedrich, Chapter Head
    The National Museum of Women in the Arts
    Stephanie is an avid art collector and passionate spokesperson for the arts. She spearheaded the Vancouver Chapter of NMWA, the mother organization has over 35,000 members, placing it in the top 10 percent of museum memberships in North America. NMWA has the single most important collection of visual art by women in the world. The Friends of the National Museum of Women in the Arts are dedicated to furthering the mission of the NMWA by recognizing, celebrating and promoting the work of women artists in Western Canada.The Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Stephanie and her husband Roman live in West Vancouver and come to Whistler regularly to enjoy their property here. Stephanie would speak to the public museum perspective.

    Michella Frosch
    Michella is Chair of the Board of the Vancouver International Sculpture Biennale. Her skills in business, management, organization, fundraising and communications have enabled her to liaise the business world with the cultural and not-for-profit sectors, entrepreneurs and charitable organizations. She is a strong advocate for community and education. She has worked with Envisioning and Storytelling, Illuminated Filmworks, the New Zealand Society of Designers, Galleria Manzoni, the Canadian Craft Museum, and Producer’s workshop. Michella is President of Crescende Enterprises Ltd., and Tusscin Management Ltd. She also serves on the Boards of the Arts Umbrella Foundation, the International Centre for Global Ethics (Canada), is an advisor to several other charitable organizations in arts and culture and business. She will be speaking to the process of acquiring and mounting international sculptures here on the West Coast for the Vancouver Biennale and the value of public art.

    Reid Shier, Director
    Presentation House Gallery
    Reid Shier is the director and curator of Presentation House Gallery (PHG) in North Vancouver, Canada. Previously, Shier was chief curator of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto. He has curated over 80 exhibitions, including recent projects with New York based photographers Judy Linn and Anne Collier. Other recent projects include exhibitions with Geoffrey Farmer, Joëlle Tuerlinckx, SUPERFLEX, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, and On Kawara. Shier initiated an exhibition with Turner Prize winner Simon Starling that premiered at The Power Plant in February, 2008. He is a critical writer and in 2002 edited the monograph Stan Douglas: Every Building on 100 West Hastings, a book-length study of a single photograph by Canadian artist, Stan Douglas. Reid and his wife are expecting their second child in August.

    Wendy Wacko, Artist & Gallery Owner
    Seven appears to be Wendy's lucky number. Wendy Wacko's perspective on art derives from several sources. As a painter she is represented by the prominent Scott Gallery in Edmonton and she has had 7 solo exhibitions. As a filmmaker she has produced seven award-winning film productions, including “Doris McCarthy - Heart of a Painter”, for network television, and one feature film, co-produced with the BBC. As a gallery owner in three separate mountain communities: Mountain Galleries in the Fairmont Whistler Chateau, the Banff Springs Hotel and the Jasper Park Lodge, she represents many leading Canadian artists, with a focus on Alberta and BC artists, and icon Doris McCarthy who resides in Toronto. The artist in residence program she founded supports emerging and mid-career artists with accommodation and studio space at all three locations.

    Whistler Arts Council, Discover the vision WAC has for Whistler and the progress of our progressive art scene in this mountain community.

    Paula Shackleton, Panel Moderator
    Author, Publisher & Founder of Whistler Reads
    Paula is a passionate advocate for literacy. She has authored over 500 articles on the topic of books, the literary scene, publishing and technology since 2003 when she launched She interviews both established and emerging authors for podcast ranging from Margaret Atwood to Stephen Vogler with over 100 segments posted. She has published two books, the first on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s copper mining industry, Katanga: Land of Copper (Marquand Books, Dec 2006), and the second a tribute of 50 individuals with interviews and portraits Fifty On 50 (BookBuffet, June 2008). Since founding Whistler Reads in 2005, Paula has organized 23 public events involving prize-winning authors, invited speakers and dynamic expert panel discussions, political skits, food and wine themed literary events and more. She participated in the opening celebration of the Whistler Public Library’s Libration by organizing and moderating a panel of 4 National and BC prize-winning authors, and producing a video of leading Whistler community members, Canadian Olympic athletes and locals giving passionate reviews of their favorite book along with a personal testimonial for the place that reading holds in their lives.



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