Florence Young Thomas
Leaving a Legacy
*in partnership with the Florence Thomas Art School*
About the Artist:
Florence Thomas was a soft-spoken, but determined, woman who was known to many as an artist and a teacher. An Ashe County native, she lived quietly for most of her 98 years on the farm that became the inspiration for many of her landscape paintings. Her beautiful white farmhouse was filled with the art she created, and with the memory of those she taught there during her long, productive life.
Florence began her own education as an artist in 1930 at the age of 19, when she enrolled in the School of Design for Women in Philadelphia. Her education was interrupted by an illness that brought her home to Ashe County. Later that same year, she married Paul Thomas and settled with him on the Thomas family farm that straddles the North Carolina/Virginia state line. She continued to develop as an artist by later traveling to Chadd’s Ford, PA, to study with Carolyn Wyeth, sister of noted American artist, Andrew Wyeth. Her “professional” art career began a few years earlier while she was a student at the Virginia-Carolina High School in Grassy Creek, NC. She and a friend began painting on scraps of canvas or cardboard and selling their work, in order to buy more paint, mostly to their teachers; several of these early, now very fragile, paintings are part of the Florence Thomas Art School collection.
The Thomas home became Florence’s studio where, for 20 years, she offered many students the opportunity to explore their own creativity through learning to paint. She believed in teaching the fundamentals, and encouraged her students to develop their own style. She often said “if they lost their originality, they’ve lost everything.”
Florence herself was a prolific painter whose work chronicles the deeply rural nature of North Carolina’s northwest mountains over much of the 20th century. Her depictions of farm animals, hard-working men and women, and the farms and gardens they tended, can be found in treasured collections throughout the region. While she often used vivid colors, her soft-focus style, reminiscent of the impressionists, conveys a comfortable and familiar mood. “I don’t put much detail in my paintings,” she once explained, “. . . because if you tell everything you know, you don’t allow the viewer to enter into the picture.”
Throughout her life, Florence’s passion for art was matched by her desire to teach and share her knowledge. She believed everyone should have the opportunity to create art, and to produce it to the best of their ability. She was a founding member of the Blue Ridge Art Clan, an organization that brought other teachers to the county so her students could receive expanded instruction.
When Florence died in 2007, her will provided the direction and means to establish an art school in Ashe County to further provide quality instruction in the arts. Her legacy was firmly established through the creation of the Paul and Florence Thomas Memorial Art School, Inc., which provides financial support for the non-profit art school. The Florence Thomas Art School held its first workshops in 2008. As the school continues to grow, the spirit of Florence’s presence will continue to inspire students for years to come.
(On display in the Welborn Gallery through April 2019)
This year we celebrate the 8th Annual Yadkin Arts Council Juried Exhibition. Please join us for the opening reception on July 12, 2019 at 5pm. It is one of our favorite exhibits because of the diverse art it brings to our facility every year. This exhibition is a celebration of some of the finest creativity in North Carolina. Eligibility for entry is open to Fine Art artists in both 2D and 3D categories that are a minimum of 18 years of age and reside in North Carolina. $3,500 in combined prizes will be awarded to the best artists!
To enter please register HERE
To download prospectus click HERE
The Welborn Gallery was named after Marion and Jewell Welborn of Boonville for the generous lead gift they made to the Center’s capital campaign. The Welborns gifted the final funds needed to close the campaign and make possible the opening of the center.
Our Welborn Gallery warmly greets every visitor to the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center as soon as you walk in the building. Our Welborn Gallery is designed to expose residents and visitors to continual and varied 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional pieces of art. You can always find something to inspire and challenge you with every visit.
Portfolio Submission Guidelines for Exhibitions (2020/2021):
Please send 5 – 7 good quality .jpeg digital images of your work. These images should be a fair representation of the work you wish to exhibit at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center, or similar to work you intend to create for the exhibit. Each image should be labeled with the size of the piece, medium, and title.
In addition to providing examples of your work, we request that you provide us with your website with specific instructions to guide us to the selections of art you wish to exhibit.
Other information we require includes a brief description of your exhibition idea. How many art objects? Is there a theme? You’ll also be required to provide information about yourself, your exhibition experience, and your training, if any.
If you are accepted to exhibit with us, you will need approximately 25 to 30 pieces of art at various sizes. All work must be wired for hanging.