Dan Peebles was chatting with local muralist Thomas Arnatt one day when Arnatt suggested a new idea for public art in Masset— carnival cutouts.
“Immediately I went home, dug up some plywood and just went crazy,” Peebles said.
“That night I had my first prototype together.”
By mid-July, the first carnival cutouts or “face in the hole” boards started popping among the picnic tables behind The Ground, the coffee shop and gallery that Peebles runs with Carey Newell in downtown Masset.
Inspired by a love of coffee and wild mushrooms, Peebles’ own design features a Sasquatch stepping over chanterelles with a coffee to-go in one hand.
He tucked a milk crate behind the board so little kids could get up high enough to be the face of Sasquatch.
Rose Williams’ cutout — an astronaut and alien hitchhiking to other-worldly Tow Hill — was genius, said Peebles, and then came the magnificent, scuba diver-hugging octopus painted by Dejah Busch.
“I think Dejah’s putting the pressure on,” he said.
The Sasquatch, space-age hitchhikers, and octopus proved so popular this summer that Peebles is now putting out calls to artists who’d like to paint up a board for next spring, with a deadline set for April. Already, Arnatt and local artists Maryanne Wettlaufer and Jen Bailey are on board.
Peebles said it would be great to see the boards turn up in other places around town, maybe at the Visitor Information Centre, or out front of the Dixon Entrance Maritime Museum, where artists could pick up an appropriate theme. The materials are supplied, and artists can take back their board at the end of the season if they wish to.
“It could be an ongoing thing, where every year there are a bunch of new ones and they keep spreading around,” he said.