February 1 - April 26, 2020
Made possible by a generous gift from Blonkvist Investment Group—RBC Wealth Management, with additional support from the Rea Charitable Trust.
The Thomas Collection was started by long-time Midlander Bennie Sue Thomas and was greatly expanded by her son, George Thomas. Bennie Sue came by her interest in the West and pioneer life honestly – her father, pioneer rancher George Ratliff, put down roots in the Permian Basin in 1902, and Bennie Sue successfully ran a family ranch in Marfa for many years. Her fascination with Western art spanned the majority of her life, collecting pieces from some of the most revered Western artists including Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. Unfortunately, several of the most historic pieces were stolen (in dramatic fashion) from Bennie Sue’s home in 1974 – see the accompanying newspaper article for the full story, which features a car chase, an affair, and a death by train.
George shared his mother’s enthusiasm for Western art, and after several trips to Santa Fe, NM, became especially interested in the Taos Society of Artists, a group of 12 Western artists painting primarily Native American and pioneer life scenes. He was an avid collector of Ernest Martin Hennings and Eanger Irving Couse, the Taos Society of Artists’ first president. George attended several of the largest Western art auctions in the country, from Jackson Hole to Arizona, but as he was wont to do, thoroughly researched the pieces beforehand and only bid when he was certain he was getting a good deal.
George was also particularly interested in Clark Hulings – an artist known for his elaborate treatment of light and lively European and Mexican market scenes – and exchanged several letters with the artist over the years. This relationship eventually resulted in Hulings’ Hiersac Cháteau, a piece George commissioned that remains a family favorite and is featured in this exhibition.
George had a passion for the arts throughout his life and would be honored to share his collection with family, friends and fellow art enthusiasts at the Museum of the Southwest.
On View: April 26, 2020 | 1–5 pm
1705 West Missouri Avenue
Midland, 79701 TX
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