From New York to Nebo: The Artistic Journey of Eugene Thomason

October 11, 2014 – May 28, 2017

A product of the industrialized New South, Eugene Healan Thomason (1895–1972) made the obligatory pilgrimage to New York to advance his art education and launch his career. Studying at the renowned Art Students League, he fell under the influence of the leading members of the Ashcan School: Robert Henri, John Sloan, and, in particular, George Luks. Thomason spent a decade in the city, adopting—and eventually adapting—the Ashcan movement’s gritty realistic aesthetic into a distinctive regionalist style that utilized thick paint and simple subject matter. He then returned South and, following a brief stint as a portrait painter and teacher in Charlotte, settled in a small Appalachian crossroads called Nebo. For the next thirty-plus years, Thomason mined the rural landscape’s rolling terrain and area residents for inspiration, finding there a wealth of colorful imagery more evocative—and more personally resonant—than the urbanism of New York. Painting at the same time as such well known Regionalists as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, Eugene Thomason embraced and convincingly portrayed his own region, becoming the visual spokesman for that place and its people. From New York to Nebo was on view at five museums during its three-year tour: the Morris Museum of Art, Spartanburg Art Museum, Asheville Art Museum, the Mint Museum, and the Florence County Museum.