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Untitled, oil, 16″x20″, Florence Thomas


April 3 – May 5 | 2021

On exhibit until May 5 is a selection of works from the Florence Thomas Collection that feature man-made structures in the landscape.  Florence was an avid plein air painter who captured many local scenes in and around Ashe County, but she also traveled and painted.

Many of Florence’s paintings have buildings that capture cultural history from country stores to sheds.  Included in the exhibit are a small selection of these paintings, some incorporating the landscape in a major way and others that feature a structure as a primary focal point with very little information about the landscape.  Florence captured structures in the same way she did any of the subject matter that she chose.  She focused on light and color and gave the structures a life of their own, often without worrying about exact architectural details.


Florence Young Thomas, (1909-2007), was born in Ashe County, NC.  After high school, Florence attended teacher training, studied art at the School of Design in Philadelphia, and studied with other artists such as Carolyn Wyeth.

Florence continued to live in Ashe County, operating a farm, and taught painting classes for twenty years.  After retirement in 1976, Florence was instrumental in forming the Blue Ridge Art Clan as a way to bring artists to the county.  Florence herself was a prolific painter whose work chronicles the deeply rural nature of North Carolina’s northwest mountains over much of the twentieth century.

Florence painted scenes of the life all around her.  Her art is characterized by softness and light, allowing the viewer to enter a scene uncluttered by excessive detail.  In her scores of landscapes, portraits, or her enchanted renderings of animals, she captured the essence and spirit of her subjects with a simplicity and distinctive elegance all her own.

An admirer of Cezanne and Van Gogh, Florence drew from their paintings an appreciation for color and movement, but found her own way, resulting in an extraordinary artistic chronicle of the Appalachian mountains.