Yet something started to bother him. Why don’t more kids spend those days on the mountain like he does?
So Tyler approached Justin Chandler, director of TSSC, who explained that “while some kids may not be interested, many are interested but simply lack the resources to pull together the equipment, ski passes and support to ski.” Even with the great Ski PE program run by Telluride schools, not every kid who wants to ski or join the ski club gets a chance to do it. The issue is also relevant for many of the local Hispanic kids whose families haven’t grown up with skiing. While Chandler explained that the club could scrape up the necessary equipment, finding money for the ski passes and getting the kids ready to join a ski group present real challenges.
Tyler’s parents, who are active in local nonprofits and causes, suggested that there are three types of people in this world when it comes to social justice: those who just don’t care, those who care but only talk about it, and then those who do something about it. While only 13 at the time, Tyler decided to do something about it.
By marrying his passion for skiing, the arts and a deep interest in learning the Spanish language and culture, the “Art of Skiing” was born. As a passionate artist whose paintings and watercolors of local scenery have earned recognition, Tyler thought, “If I could create and sell my paintings to raise money for the ski club to help get more kids on the hill, I could also work on my Spanish with the kids who want to really ski.” Upon hearing the plan, Chandler was enthusiastic.
“Tyler is an impressive kid who decided to step up and help…the only catch was that I also asked him to be up on the hill to help acclimate these kids to the whole skiing experience.
While “the money is great,” Chandler said, Tyler’s “skiing and Spanish would also be needed” to get the program up and running.
With six watercolors ready for sale, Tyler set up a table on Main Street – only to be shut down by town marshals (even good causes need a permit). When he approached some local galleries to help, though encouraging the young artist, they weren’t able to display his art for sale. Then he met Christine Reich, owner of Lustre Gallery, who agreed to display his work. “I loved the idea of raising money for a good cause and thought the pieces were great,” Reich said.
Tyler’s paintings all sold, that first day – and he got orders more more.
Several hundred dollars have been raised, kids who want to ski now have the critical ski passes in hand, and Tyler is looking forward to his first few turns with the new skiers under TSSC sponsorship. When asked how a middle schooler can create such an impressive program from thin air, he says, “It’s really just about taking the things that I love and bringing other people into it. If the art and my time can get more kids to love skiing like I do, it’s a no- brainer.”
Tyler’s next exhibition will be at Lustre Gallery for the Artwalk on Thursday, Dec. 15. For more information, contact Tyler at firstname.lastname@example.org, Justin Chandler at email@example.com or Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org.