Dream big in Washington, D.C.: Thom Wheeler at The O Street Museum

Tamra Testerman
Posted 2/19/20

It's every artist's dream to be at work in your studio, when two well-connected art collectors stroll in, buy several large pieces, commission you to work on a few projects and invite you to do a one-man show at a museum in Washington, D.C.

Taos artist Thom Wheeler is living that dream.

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Dream big in Washington, D.C.: Thom Wheeler at The O Street Museum

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It's every artist's dream to be at work in your studio, when two well-connected art collectors stroll in, buy several large pieces, commission you to work on a few projects and invite you to do a one-man show at a museum in Washington, D.C.

Taos artist Thom Wheeler is living that dream. He describes the serendipitous encounter with The O Street Museum in the Mansion founder, H.H. Leonards, and her husband, Ted Spero. "They were visiting mutual friends in Taos and came by my studio. We had a great connection, and they purchased several of my works of art, outright, for their museum. They asked me to do a one-man show of my art, and we arranged it to open on my birthday, March 6. The show will remain until the end of July."

Wheeler said he will be donating 40 percent of the proceeds of his sales from the show back to the museum "because I am inspired by their commitment to creativity and support of those in the creative processes. The Artists and Heroes in Residence Program is terrific. Mrs. Rosa Parks lived at the Mansion as their guest for 10 years. She and H.H. Leonards became very close friends. H.H. just finished a book about Mrs. Parks."

The title of the exhibit is "The Art of Thom Wheeler: Rebirth, Transformation, Healing." According to Leonards, she invited Wheeler to show his work in the nation's capital because "Thom's art moved me from the moment I saw it. It is spiritual and authentic because it's created from a pure heart. I believe it has the power to remind us of our roots and unite us. We need that more than ever in our nation's capital -- to bring people together -- find our common bonds and share them with one another. O Museum in The Mansion is about celebrating diversity and the creative spirit."

She continued, "Our mission is to empower people to do what they love -- dare to be different -- and have fun. We inspire creativity, diversity and imagination through the fusion of the arts, science and sports. Thom's art is a wonderful example of this fusion -- melding different mediums and diverse subject to capture spirituality and the human spirit."

Leonards said Wheeler is the first Southwest artist to show at the museum, "We hosted an indigenous Mexican art and culture exhibit, which was wonderful, but Thom is our first Southwest artist. My mother's passion was Native American everything. I am my mother's daughter. So I would be honored to host another broad exhibition at some point focused on Native American art. I loved everything about New Mexico - the people, the creativity, the openness to adventure, the landscape, and the deep ingrained need from everyone I met to help others. It was beautiful."

Wheeler visited Washington a few weeks ago and described The O Street Museum in the Mansion as "a magnificent setting for a show. It is elegant and fun at the same time. The large room where my show will hang is like a baroque ballroom. The museum hosts a wide variety of events, including musical performances, lecture series, corporate functions, weddings, etc. It rarely hosts an art exhibit like mine. I am honored by the opportunity to share my work with D.C."

He continued, "There is a strong connection between the museum directors, who are both on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame board of directors, and some well-known musical performers. We are looking forward to some of them joining us for the opening." The artist also invited "several friends and collectors from across the country who will be attending, including New Mexico senators and congressmen and congresswomen, "who may welcome a break from politics to share in an evening of art from New Mexico and good company from all over."

This isn't Wheeler's first time showing his work on the East Coast. "I was in D.C. with my art, in 1995, for a Child Rite auction/fundraiser - the Taos-based nonprofit that encouraged and supported adoption. I love D.C. This last trip there, three weeks ago, was poignant, given the terrible division in our country, right now. Standing at the Lincoln Memorial and walking the National Mall was very moving."

For more information about The O Street Museum in the Mansion, visit the website omuseum.org.

Thom Wheeler's studio is located on 939 Kit Carson Road. For more information, visit the artist's website thomwheeler.com or call (575) 758-8870

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