Campus News

Decorative arts exhibition features handmade furniture

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Georgia Bellflowers: The Furniture of Henry Eugene Thomas, a decorative arts exhibition featuring furniture made by Athens craftsman Henry Eugene Thomas will be on display in the Lamar Dodd Gallery of the Georgia Museum of Art until April 15.

The exhibition features about 20 pieces of furniture made by Thomas plus related photographs and ephemera and will be accompanied by a small book published by the museum.

This will be the first exhibition to highlight Thomas’ furniture and a career that spanned three decades. Little was known about his career, though he was well known in the Athens area and taught Henry D. Green, a prominent advocate of Georgia decorative arts, about antiques.

“Gene Thomas was an expert craftsman and a true Georgia treasure. While many long-time Athenians are familiar with his name, few people know the full story of his career as an antiques dealer and furniture maker,” said Ashley Callahan, independent scholar and guest curator of the exhibition.

Callahan formerly served as curator of decorative arts at the Georgia Museum of Art.  To learn about Thomas, Callahan conducted interviews with his relatives and long-time Athenians and reviewed columns that Thomas’ son Jack wrote for local newspapers.

“Piecing together that story was a community effort, and I truly appreciate the willingness of his family and of so many collectors, historians and scholars around Georgia to share information about him and his work. Mr. Thomas’ furniture beautifully illustrates the influence of the Colonial Revival in the Southeast and is a great example of 20th-century Georgia decorative arts,” Callahan said.

Callahan will give a gallery talk on this exhibition April 15 at 3 p.m. at the Georgia Museum of Art.