A&E » Arts

Chili Thom and friends go green

A Forest For The Trees group art exhibition aims to bring the outdoors inside with sight, sound and scent



What: Group art exhibition opening

When: Saturday, Aug. 14, noon till 11 p.m.

Where: Chili Thom Gallery, 2-1020 Millar Creek Rd.

Cost: Free


One of Whistler's favourite artistic sons, Chili Thom, opened a second gallery space earlier this year. Dubbed simply the Chili Thom Gallery, his new Function Junction digs have played host to a few group shows already, though Thom said the biggest one yet opens this weekend.

The theme for the upcoming group exhibition is A Forest For The Trees.

"I just sort of wanted to give everyone a chance to come and show their stuff at the gallery," Thom explained.

So, for a few weeks, the focus will be on something other than Chili's own famous trees. He's sharing the spotlight with a group of artists from the Sea to Sky corridor, all of whom have created unique pieces specifically for the show.

"Everyone's always talking about my trees and stuff - they're like, 'trees, trees, trees,'" Thom said. "And then I was talking with a friend about old sayings, and we were just running off all these old ones, and 'oh, you can't see the forest for the trees!'"

The gallery will be temporarily transformed into a lush forest, with Thom transplanting greenery from outdoors.

"I'm going to get some stumps, basically just do my best to bring lots of the forest into the gallery."

And the show isn't just intended to appeal to the eyes. Thom is planning on incorporating elements of sound and smell, transforming the exhibition into a sensory experience using cedar and pine boughs, as well as some essential oils, to help make people feel like they've been transported into the middle of a forest.

"I've got a huge selection of photographers, digital artists and painters that are bringing in pieces. So as long as everyone managed to stick with the 'heavy on the green side' theme, the whole gallery should be transformed into something nice and green."

Thom's own paintings don't typically feature a lot of green; he tends to lean towards more vibrant hues. So, for this show he's working on finishing up a few new pieces that feature an earthier palette of greens.

Joining Thom for the show are Mark Gribbon, Blake Jorgenson, Matt Walker, Bruce Rowles, Laurel Terlesky, Stan Matwychuk, Dave "Pepe" Petko, Randy "Randoid" Smith, Taka Sudo and Olivier Roy.

"It continually changes," Thom laughed, "but I've got five photographers, one digital artist and then I should have at least a dozen painters."

And that lineup came together quite organically (no pun intended).

"I just sort of put the call out and then it sort of branched through other people," Thom said.

"I really like the one that Olivier submitted - he's done a number of trees before, just with faces and stuff in them, and there's a lot of personality in this one."

By Tuesday morning, Thom had seen a few of the finished photos and paintings and planned on frantically finishing his own later that night.

While the show will remain at the gallery for almost a month, Saturday will be the kick-off party, and anyone is welcome to check it out, free of charge.



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