Inspired by the mountains — Chili finds his niche 

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"It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen."

- Herodotus

He's an artist. A filmmaker. A deejay. A backcountry guide even. His paintings channel the Group of Seven and the Grateful Dead — with just a sprinkle of Robert Crumb to keep them edgy. His films range from the bizarrely horrific to the outrageously hilarious. And there's always a note of quiet absurdity to his work. Humour, fun — lightheartedness — this is what defines him. And yet, he's got the kind of work ethic rarely seen in these parts. The guy is tireless. Busier than the energizer bunny. Never a dull moment, you know.

In short, Chili Thom is his own man. He's been voted Whistler's favorite artist for nine straight years. And some of the biggest collectors in the Lower Mainland now boast of having a "Chili" on their living room wall. I mean, this guy is as hot as it gets!

But don't tell him that. Since he arrived on these shores in 1995 — and blundered into a serving job at the iconic Sushi Village — Chili Thom has worked his tail off to set himself up as a bona fide creative force in this valley. He's made sacrifices. Built connections. Launched projects. And he's never let himself be sucked in by defeatism. Still, he insists that for him, it's all about leaving the world a better place than what it was when Chili first arrived here.

I know. I know. That kind of innocence doesn't play well in hip Whistler. I mean, c'mon. Is anybody really that naïve anymore?

But talk to the man for a few minutes, and it becomes amply clear that this guy has a very different set of principles. And he's not afraid to challenge the rest of us on our priorities. "If we all did one little thing for somebody else," says Chili, "just one little thing, can you imagine the kind of positive change we could make happen around here?"

He sighs deeply. "I love my friends," says the Squamish resident. "I love my family more than anything. But I also believe I have a responsibility to this planet. You know? We're all connected. All part of the puzzle. It's up to each one of us to act responsibly. That's why I try to lead by example — it's on all our shoulders to make positive change."

Indeed. And yet, were those words coming from the mouth of anyone else, I would take them with a sizeable grain of salt. But Chili walks his talk. Everything he does — the many different projects he's involved with — reflects that philosophy of engagement. There is not one hypocritical bone in the man's body.


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