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Putting the funk in Function

Chili Thom opens second creative studio space in Function Junction



Chili Thom's Creation Station is an infamous local hub, vivid and vibrant, and filled with the artistic works of the painter and his talented friends. The ceiling boasts a massive three-dimensional dragon, there's a giant bubble chair at the entrance and the walls are bright orange.

But the time has come for Thom to set up shop in more polished digs: enter the Chili Thom Gallery and Wicked Awesome Crafts and Such (WACS).

Thom has decided it's time to move on to more professional pastures and has opened a second studio space on Millar Creek Road, just across from the old bus station.

"It's hard to sell a $10,000 painting when people have to walk past a bubble chair, underneath a giant dragon and teddy bears," Thom pointed out with a smile. "It was great, I just really felt the need to have a place where I can display my art."

Don't shed a tear for Thom's former digs just yet. The Creation Station is staying open as a working gallery under the direction of Kelsey Faery, the mastermind of Kelsey's Creations. There, other local artists will have a chance to share the studio space for a small fee and they'll host art openings and DJ gigs.

And with the Olympics just around the corner, and Thom busily trying to get a new body of work together, he decided it was time to have a dedicated space he could bring clients into.

"(The Creation Station) was just so awesome and colourful and textured and everything, but the reason this place is just white is I've really felt affected and influenced by the colours that are around me when I paint," Thom said gesturing to the stark walls. "So I'd be like, 'oh, what do you know? I'm doing another orange-influenced painting because I'm staring at a giant orange wall."

He took over the new space at the beginning of the month and has spent the past few weeks patching holes and repainting it a stark white.

"In terms of Whistler, it's affordable and I really like it," Thom said.

"...It's just neat and Function is going to boom soon," he predicted, pointing out that 1,200 locals will call the Function Junction area home after the Olympics.

But the Chili Thom Gallery won't be all about Thom's work. His latest paintings will be on display alongside work from a select few local artists. And at the back of the space, Wicked Awesome Crafts and Such, he'll be teaching art classes.

"I've had a ton of people ask me, 'Are you ever going to teach art classes? Can you give me some pointers? Can I come over and hang out?'" Thom said.

Thom has instructed others as part of the Whistler Arts Council's annual Art Workshops on the Lake, and loves teaching others because it forces him to examine his creative process.

"It makes you learn your stuff inside and out because people ask you questions all the time that you just sort of overlooked or you don't even think why, you just do it."

He also loves watching his students progress artistically.

"If you can learn to create artistically, then you can learn to look at things a different way in life, shift things around and get the things you're looking for in life."

So, does Whistler have a new Bob Ross?

Thom plans to launch a series of classes, starting with sessions for beginners and advancing through the steps, working with all levels of ability.

"There is a certain level of creativity you need to have in order to paint, so that's one of the great challenges of teaching, actually - what I always found made a good teacher or a bad teacher back in high school or university - you have to be able to relate to each individual person and work one-on-one," Thom explained.

He hopes to start off offering a group class once a week, probably on Wednesday nights, with two hours of instruction, then an optional three hours of independent studio work. Though he hasn't worked out a definitive schedule or price yet, he hopes to have a plan finalized by the grand opening of the studio, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 28.



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