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 Myra Laura Thomas  (1882 - 1963)

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Lived/Active: New York/Colorado      Known for: western landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Myra L. Thomas, a painter and etcher of Western subjects, was born April 22, 1882, in Greeley, Colorado, growing up on the family's V-Bar-0 Ranch east of Ault, Colorado. From 1900-1904, she studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1905, she attended Colorado State Teachers College (now University of Northern Colorado), Greeley, receiving a degree in pedagogy. After a period of teaching, she studied, in 1916, at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, graduating in 1919. She studied with George Bellows in 1919-1920, during a year of post-graduate work at the Art Institute. In 1920-1921, she was in New York City at the Art Students League, studying with Randall Davey and John Sloan. She studied again at the Institute in 1925, and the League in 1926-1927.

After 1921, she went back to the ranch, continuing to paint. But, by the mid-1930s, she gave up painting for traveling and teaching at the Wyatt School near Ault with her sister. The question becomes, "Why, after extensive work as a student, and approximately fifteen years of painting, did Thomas give up her artistic quest?" She did not paint for nearly the last thirty years of her life.

A posthumous one-person exhibition in 1967 was hung in the Weld County Library, Greeley. During her lifetime, Thomas exhibited at the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; Society of Independent Artists, New York; Denver Art Museum; and Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists. Her work is in the collection of the City of Greeley Museums.

Working in a variety of media--oil, watercolor, etching and pen and ink--Thomas received attention for her still-lifes in 1926 in Chicago from Paris critics. However, she was best known for her paintings of life on the family ranch, as well as those painted in other Western sites, including New Mexico, in 1920, and northern Arizona, southern Utah, in 1926. Some specific works Myra Thomas exhibited in her fifteen year career of artistic activity between 1920 and 1934 are Corn Dance, Santo Domingo; The Rustler; Afternoon on the Plains; The Canyon Road; Crow Creek; The Painted Desert; Cedar Ridge, Zion Park; and "Dan" at Bar-0 Ranch.

Myra L. Thomas died February 5, 1963, in Greeley, Colorado.

References for Thomas include: Colorado Women Artists; Greeley Tribune, 13 Jan 1967, 6 Feb 1963; Greeley Journal, 15 Jan 1967; City of Greeley Museum files; US Census 1900, Weld County, CO, ED 207, pg 7; P. A. Ford (Research &. Education, City of Greeley Museum), 1987; J. B. Jones, 1987; S. Thomas (sister-in-law), 1987; D. Nix (Alumni Records, University of Colorado), 1987.

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "An Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"

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