About the artist:
William Thon led a life so completely at one and at peace with his artistic mission that we must understand him as a philosopher as well as a visual poet. His engagement with a world of wind and water and changing seasons became a search for the very essence of nature's vital force. William Thon (1906-2000) was a dignified, self-evolved, somewhat quiet man whose calm and friendly demeanor put one quickly at ease. His was not a grandiose personality but one projecting a deep, steady confidence. Thon had many friends among his neighbors in Port Clyde, Maine, as he spent a long life on the docks, along the shore, and in the forests where people made their living from the land and sea. Essentially self-taught as an artist, Thon mastered the difficult visual language of modern art and then went on to create a distinctly personal and intensely expressive style all his own. Thon's 60-year career as a painter led him to some surprising discoveries, culminating in the visionary works of his old age. Dwelling in near-blindness, he achieved a wondrous sense of light and space, a revelation in ink and paint for us to share and to see. William Thon made his professional mark in the 1950s when he shared national prominence with a generation of Americans working in an abstract expressionist style. His abstracted landscapes of Maine quarries, boats and shorelines, and ships at sea are familiar to anyone who has studied American art of this period. He won many national and international prizes and his work entered the permanent collections of our nation's greatest art museums. Artistic prizes and national attention did not motivate William Thon, although he accepted them with grace and modesty. He did not gain his enduring place in American art by participating in the lively critical discourse of his day. His art came from another source both physically and spiritually. Thon chose to live in the relative isolation of Maine on a peninsula overlooking the sea, a quiet place, especially in winter. He chose the company of sailors, craftsmen, lobstermen, a few fellow artists, and his beloved wife Helen. Each season, William Thon would send his paintings off to the prestigious Midtown Galleries in New York City as though sending them on a journey to a strange and distant land. Each bore the imprint of his intense connection to raw and wild things, beautifully contained within the artist's capable and generous temperament. Thon's paintings of Maine had little to do with rural nostalgia or American historical values or the pathos of human relationships. His was a living Maine, a timeless and vital place reflecting his own passion for its rough, beautiful forests, intemperate seas, and the scatter of wooden buildings along its rugged shoreline. William Thon took a long view of man's time on earth. He often painted small boats on vast and turbulent waters. He lingered over the smallest details of indecipherable human and animal tracks on a snowy forest floor. He depicted sailors struggling to survive in an Atlantic gale and made his viewers wonder about the outcome. In Thon's pictorial universe, man is not the measure of all things. Thon valued and respected man's ability to see and understand the natural world, but he regarded its mysteries as beyond human reckoning. Marveling at the revelations of each hour, each turn of tide, each season of the year, Thon created an art that achieves equilibrium and joy by dwelling within the tumult of nature.William Thon's sweeping views of Maine, admitting all kinds of weather, every time of the year, and every lovely and unlovely aspect, reveal his deep trust in nature as an ultimately benign force. He believed in the inherently spiritual nature of the universe.