To the right in Mountain Square in Whistler, the now famous resort north of Vancouver, next to a totem are stairs leading down to Art Gallery Row where immediately on the left you can find a window with mainly Inuksuk statues and some stone carvings, the home of Jon Fathom.
Just inside the door is a sculpture of bears seemingly coming out of a large block of the conglomerate marble rock. To the right of the door are four sculptures: a wonderful orange stone Moebius of African rainbow alabaster, a shining chlorite black bear, a soaring Humpback whale from Tokeen Bay Alaska white marble, and a marble bear with its salmon catch – all sculptured by members of the team of seven local stone carvers.
Take a walk into the showroom, and you meet a young man whose accent assures you he is from the north west. His name is Jon Fathom and this is his showroom, these works come from his master class of stone sculptors. Jon has a quizzical sense of humour and a laid-back but intent salesmanship for the works in his care, from his team and other north west stone carvers.
He was born in Juneau, Alaska in a log cabin. His parents lived there during his childhood with life on the sea, fishing, crabbing, whale watching, eagle feeding and glacier viewing. So we asked him how he came to stone. He relates that he escaped Juneau as a wild young man, tired of smelling like fish and, like his friends, having been brought up on a snowboard. Finding himself at 21 years in Mammoth Lakes, California, searching for his fortune on a snowboard, he sought a revelation in a prayer.
The answer came to him in an immediate vision – stone art. At the end of the season, in Seattle, he met by accident a stone carver and apprenticed himself. A fast and willing pupil, he soon graduated to his own workshop with a fine feeling for the stone and its changing textures and moods.
Now 10 years later after sojourns back in Juneau, the Alaskan cruise town of Ketchikan, and Seattle, we find him as a four year ‘veteran’ of Whistler, with just not enough time to spring on to his board. However, Jon has a special talent as a teacher. The seven sculptors in his team have all been taught the art of carving by Jon, with power tools through to fine polishing cloths. Next door to the showroom is a studio where he conducts classes for all ages in stone carving and making of bears and Inuksuk. All are encouraged to try their hand with the feeling for stone.
Seek him out, admire the beautiful stone carvings and the many Inuit inspired Inuksuk, try your hand at stone carving, and ask Jon about his polar bears. His passion is the creation of stone carvings of larger than life polar bears, but that is another story.