This is a message of hope, and a call for support.
It was a sunny late afternoon in November when Chili Thom and I spoke for the last time. I was sitting in a Seattle train station, it’s marbled foyer echoing to strangers the sound of my joy and heartbreak. Chili had recently found out about Arts Whistler’s plan to host a Chili Thom show at the Audain Art Museum. With emotion, humility, and pride, he was excitedly planning his list of favourite works. My joy was a waterfall from his joy.
My heartbreak came in the next moment, when Chili shared that it would likely be a posthumous show. The cancer was winning, Chili was getting weaker, and he was at peace with his future. When he passed away on November 30th, he left many of us with a purpose. To celebrate one of the most significant artists to work, live, and contribute to the Sea to Sky community.
With Chili’s family and a project team made up of friends and volunteers, the last few months has been a scavenger hunt for the whereabouts of his most iconic masterpieces and eclectic early works. The Audain Art Museum is providing Arts Whistler with the venue, but the shipping, security, set-up, design and promotional costs are the responsibility of Arts Whistler.
With the project plan in front of us, we are now seeking private individual and corporate support. The Audain Art Museum will be the highlight of a resort wide celebration titled ‘The Chili Thom Experience’. For 3 weeks in June, Chili Thom will be Whistler’s arts and culture connector – joining our cultural buildings and community with eccentric evenings, performances, and a showcase of Chili-inspired young artists. Our fundraising will include a legacy of scholarships in the Sea to Sky corridor.
In keeping with Chili Thom’s generous and accessible spirit, entry to Arts Whistler’s Chili Thom Experience at the Audain Art Museum will be free of charge. We are at the mark where costs for this legacy event are almost covered, but what we really want is to exceed our hopes and grow a scholarship fund for Whislter, Pemberton and Squamish High Schools that will last for years ahead. A financial gift from you will help us make June 2nd-26th in Whistler a tapestry of Chili Thom’s tenure on earth.
All donations of any value will receive a charitable receipt.
At Arts Whistler, our philosophy is: Be Bold. Be Inspired. Be Engaging. We believe in fostering, promoting and supporting all artists and artistic events in our community. Like Chili Thom, we believe that the boundless beauty of Whistler exists not just in the striking mountain setting, but in our public buildings that host arts and culture, the local galleries, stories untold, and in talents yet to be discovered.
Up and down the Sea to Sky, Chili was a community volunteer and a map for residents and visitors. He made a connection between sport, nature, and fine art. He quickened the spirit of the Sea to Sky with his dreamy imagery and wild at heart perspective. For three weeks this June, that quickening will take flight. For the town who knew and loved him, and the visitors who will soon discover him.
Together we can make this happen. Click on the link and you will find a donations button at the bottom of the webpage. Mad Chili Thom love to you all!
Chair, Arts Whistler