The following text is transcribed from the ‘Delray Beach News Journal’ 22 August, 1957.
Headline: Local Artist Pleased To Help Others
Photo cut line: FINISHING TOUCHES – Bernard Thomas, Boynton artist and muralist, is putting the finishing touches on an oil painting depicting the life of the Seminoles. Thomas is the creator of the “America the Beautiful” mural at the James Melton Autorama in Hypoluxo.
By line: By Helen Glass
“It is a wonderful thing to have a talent but people who have God given talents should know the pleasure and happiness of passing on that talent to others,” renown artist and muralist Bernard P. Thomas replied when asked about his experiences in the field of art.
“When instructing my students (his studio is in the old bank building in Boynton Beach) I not only strive to improve their technique but their psychological viewpoint as well. A person needs a hobby, a means of occupying “time on their hands.”
[subhead] Gave up Football
Mr. Thomas originally came from Sheridan, Wyo., dabbled in art as a youngster but with no professional training. He gave up college football to devote himself to his art career. Thomas went to California to further his career and graduated from Woodbury College in Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science Degree, and was awarded the Leo Youngsworth Award for the outstanding senior art student at Woodbury.
He could have gone on, but with the outbreak of World War II, he entered the service as a camouflage technician.
While in Europe, he distinguished himself in General George Patton’s third army. It was in 1945 that General Patton recognized the outstanding talent of Mr. Thomas through some sketches he had drawn of the life around him.
His sketch book went with him everywhere and some of those sketches went into a scrapbook which Mr. Thomas treasures very highly. He called it “The Old Country and Its People.” He dedicated it “to my comrades who rest under the sod of the old country and to those whose sacrifice and hardships are now silent memories.”
While a platoon sergeant in a heavy weapons division, he made these and other combat sketches of his comrades, one of which was used in the “Stars and Stripes,” the famous service publication.
“I sought to bring out the glory of the combat medic who was being bypassed as a “hero” by recognizing the valor of the medic through my paint brush. I hoped to bring his part in combat to the attention of the higher ups through these paintings,” Thomas stated.
[subhead] Awarded Army Scholarship
His war career terminated and Thomas was awarded an Army scholarship after being recognized by General Patton. He chose the Ecole des Beaus Arts in Paris to further his art career. There he encountered many wonderful experiences with art, artists, Europe and it’s people, and some disheartening ones which soon made him return to the United States where he could draw, think and be what he wanted.
He then devoted his art work to painting western scenes, horses, Indians and their life on the reservation. It was quite a contrast, Thomas said, to adjust to painting seascapes and Florida subjects.
[subhead] Hypoluxo Mural
Among his most famous murals is the “America the Beautiful” room at the James Melton Autorama in Hypoluxo. Recently Thomas did the “The Golden Falcon” mural in the Golden Falcon Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.Some of the people he sketched during the war went into these murals as they were not only remembered on paper but were etched into his heart and mind.