Chili Thom was a man of inspiration. He took an unfaltering stand for self-expression, creativity and fun that will forever carry forward in the vibrancy of his artistic legacy. Lani Imre remembers the Whistler artist.
As a fellow artist and friend of Chili Thom’s, I learned invaluable lessons through the experience of working with him. Chili not only had a power for engaging others in his expansive vision, but he also brought attention to an invaluable need for organizing our businesses as artists, to create a foundation from which we can grow and thrive. When he was diagnosed with cancer, Chili’s powers of manifestation only seemed to increase. I was in awe of his ability to carry out his final visions and art projects right up to the end. Even while dealing with massive amounts of pain and an endless schedule of medical visits, he maintained his fiery yet compassionate dedication to his work. He gave the same dedication to his family, his friend and community.
The arts community—and the Sea to Sky, in general—will never forget Chili’s creative initiatives and his ability to rally a following. He continues to stand as a joyful figurehead in our community and maintains deep personal relevance in our lives.
Prior to working with Chili, I held the belief that, as artists, we tend to do much of our work in isolation, both due to a strong sense of our own authorship, as well as having little resources for hiring others. Through Chili, I gained a perspective to the opposite. I witnessed first-hand the power of enlisting help and how it could miraculously transform an artists’ life work into a legacy. A legacy that would continue to grow beyond the physical presence of the artist himself.
During his career, Chili touched the lives of many, created pieces of stylistic beauty and emotive relevance, and was also able to live with a degree of financial success that often seems elusive in the arts. In the time I knew him, Chili was always open to share his future plans and loved to talk about his art. Even in his very last conversations with me, he held profound positivity and assurance, and openly encouraged me with his regard for our camaraderie as artists.
Chili’s presence made me brighter, and I know that we are all reminded by his bold example that there is no limit to our brilliance and how vividly we can contribute to the lives of others.
Lani Imre is best known for her large-scale paintings depicting an entourage of virtualized female characters. She has exhibited in Canada as well as the United States and Mexico.