Whistler's Favourite Artist - Chili Thom. Photo courtesy Mark Gribbon
Every Whistler neighbourhood is full of colourful stories but this month, we are focusing on one of Whistler’s most colourful characters and a great friend of mine — local artist Chili Thom, who passed away in November 2016 after a hard-fought battle with cancer.
A Whistler icon best known for his colourful landscape paintings of the British Columbia mountains, forests, and coastline, Chili’s art hangs in homes and galleries all over the world. The highest concentration of his work, however, will likely always be found right here in Whistler.
To coincide with The Chili Thom Experience, Arts Whistler’s 3-week celebration of Chili’s art and spirit, this month we’re focusing on one of Chili’s favourite neighbourhoods from his time in town: Nordic Estates.
Located almost halfway between the Whistler Creekside and Whistler Village, Nordic also flanks Whistler Mountain (many homes are ski-in, ski-out) and has two Municipal Park/Beaches within walking distance (three if you don’t mind a 15-minute stroll).
Lakeside Park is a spacious family friendly beach located almost below the Nordic pedestrian overpass that crosses Highway 99. A few minutes South along the Valley Trail, Wayside Park is a bit smaller but has a mellower vibe. Both beaches are on sparkling Alta Lake and get sunlight late into the day. Chili Thom was known to frequent both of these beaches the morning after a long night of DJ’ing at one of the Village nightclubs. Nothing like a morning dip to help clear the cobwebs of another fine night.
Nordic is close to the Whistler Bike Park (via Creekside) and Alta Lake. Photos courtesy of Justa Jeskova (L) and Mike Crane (R) - Tourism Whistler.
Another of Chili’s favourite Nordic activities was rock climbing on the local crag, aptly named Nordic Rock. The routes are varied but Rock Climbing is not the kind of thing a total novice should just hop into (Chili was a certified wilderness guide), if you are living in Nordic however it may be worth taking a climbing course to really capitalize on your backyard.
One new bonus to a Nordic property is the access to the Whistler Bike Park via Creekside. Creekside is a short walk in the winter, on a bike in the summer it really feels like it’s two seconds away. Which is nice for dining, shopping, coffee, pizza or a brunch at the legendary South Side Diner or fine dining at Nita Lake Lodge. And the closest restaurant to Nordic is also one of the best in Whistler, The Rim Rock Cafe sits in one of Whistler’s original lodges and has been a locals favourite since the 1980's.
"Bubbling Hatred," one of Chili's first large canvasses was painted during the years he lived at "the Oasis" in Nordic. Photo Courtesy Chilithom.com .
Chili Thom lived with a few artist buddies in the lower reaches of Nordic estates, in a third floor suite they referred to as “The Oasis” because it felt perched in the surrounding treetops. The true oases lie higher up the hillside however. Some of Whistler’s most sought-after properties are in Taluswood, a neighbourhood of slope-side luxury homes with sweeping views of the Whistler Valley.
Like every Whistler neighbourhood, Nordic provides easy access to the beauty of nature. This access, and the people drawn to Whistler to enjoy it, are what spoke to Chili Thom’s heart. “As soon as I moved to Whistler things started falling into place for me,” he said in an interview in 2016. “I wouldn’t have been who I am or have the friends I do if I had not made the decision to live here. I remember feeling like, ‘this is working, this is perfect’. Stick with what feels right is what is say.”
"Emerald was the Forest" is a classic Chili piece inspired by the Whistler forests. Courtesy of Chilithom.com
His Masterpieces show of Chili’s Art is on display from June 2-26, 2017 in Whistler’s Audain Museum. You can always find his art at Chilithom.com and if you’re interested in seeing what homes are on display in Nordic, I’m always available.