CHILI THOM — A FEAR­LESS VOY­AGER

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - TRAVELLER I CONTENT - STORY BY RE­BECCA WOOD BAR­RETT IM­AGES BY JOERN ROHDE

Fear of fail­ure: It’s an anx­i­ety that holds many of us back from cre­ative ad­ven­tures — like paint­ing an iconic land­scape, com­pos­ing a quirky song, mak­ing a risky film or writ­ing our life’s story. Rare is the soul who lives an artis­tic life fear­lessly, yet joy­fully and with a gen­er­ous, open heart. The Sea to Sky com­mu­nity was blessed to have such a cre­ative voy­ager live and work amongst us for many years — artist, DJ and film­maker Chili Thom. From June 2 to 26, Arts Whistler presents The Chili Thom Ex­pe­ri­ence to hon­our Chili’s life and art, at ex­hi­bi­tions and per­for­mances through­out Whistler. “It’s not just about cel­e­brat­ing Chili,” says Mau­reen “Mo” Dou­glas, Arts Whistler ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, “It’s about, ‘Let’s all be a lit­tle more Chili.’” In other words, what would hap­pen if we let go of fear? What would hap­pen if we started with the ques­tion, “What if we suc­ceed?”

Chili’s artis­tic suc­cesses — and some of the stu­dent works he in­spired — will be show­cased at mul­ti­ple venues around Whistler, in­clud­ing the Maury Young Arts Cen­tre, Squamish Lil’wat Cul­tural Cen­tre, Whistler Pub­lic Li­brary, Whistler Mu­seum and the Audain Art Mu­seum. In ad­di­tion, the pub­lic is in­vited to en­gage in the #MeAndMyChili so­cial me­dia im­agery col­lec­tion by tak­ing a pic­ture of Chili’s art, or a “Chili-es­que” en­vi­ron­ment, us­ing the hash­tag and shar­ing through so­cial chan­nels. The im­ages will be gath­ered into a slideshow to be shown at var­i­ous events hon­our­ing the artist.

Thom was a re­mark­able artist who whole­heart­edly sup­ported the arts and artists in the com­mu­nity. Dou­glas points out that he was the ul­ti­mate cul­tural con­nec­tor. “He con­nected all of us to each other. He con­nected peo­ple to their po­ten­tial. He con­nected the artists’ com­mu­nity to what it could be.” The idea for an ex­hi­bi­tion was the brain­child of Heather Paul, a friend of Chili’s and the Arts Whistler board chair­per­son. At the time, in the fall of 2016, Thom was in a fight for his life against can­cer, although no one, even Chili, knew how lit­tle time he had left. With the sup­port of Michael Audain, the wheels were set in mo­tion, and Chili was able to cu­rate much of the ex­hi­bi­tion’s col­lec­tion of his art­work.

“At the Audain Art Mu­seum, we want to pro­vide a wide range of op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple of all ages to be in­spired by art,” says Suzanne Green­ing, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. “Chili Thom was an artist who truly em­braced the dy­namic in­ter­ac­tion of art, cul­ture and com­mu­nity. We are de­lighted to be able to show­case the legacy that Chili Thom cre­ated by wel­com­ing the com­mu­nity to view his work.”

This past spring, Arts Whistler was fundrais­ing so that Chili’s col­lec­tion at the Audain would be free to view. Dou­glas en­cour­aged ev­ery­one to par­tic­i­pate. “We’ll never quite fill his shoes but we can fill some of the void that’s left in spirit, by bring­ing some of that fear­less­ness to ev­ery­thing we do,” she said.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the full pal­ette of The Chili Thom Ex­pe­ri­ence events, visit artswhistler.com.

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