CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – (CLARKSVILLENOW) The artist Tom Malone, who passed away in 1998, had the uncanny ability to make people think. Coming across one of his celebrated faces in a gallery, viewers would often pause and stare deeply into the eyes. “Who is this woman?” they might ask. Or, “Why do I feel that I know her?”
“The intense styling of the eyes marks a signature style for Malone,” Terri Jordan, a Clarksville artist and exhibits curator for the Customs House Museum, said. “His faces look back at the viewer, unapologetic and familiar. Whether simple line drawings or vivid impressionistic pastels, each face Malone drew leaves the onlooker curious to learn her secrets…and that is talent.”
Malone passed away 20 years ago, but his art continues to shift peoples’ gazes, aligning them briefly with his own view of the world. This May, the community will again get to see life through the artist’s eyes thanks to a special exhibition, “FACES: A Tom Malone Retrospective,” at the Austin Peay State University Art + Design Building’s Barbara Beach Gallery and Sam and Dee Boaz Conference Room. The exhibition will open to the public on Friday, May 11, and it will remain on display until June 1.
“Tom seemed driven simply to respond to his own keen and sensitive observation of the world around him, compelled by his great heart and his desire to share those impressions with us,” Dan Hanley, noted local artist and Malone’s former art instructor, wrote. “He was among the most authentic, the most genuine artists I have had the privilege of knowing.”
Malone, a former APSU art student, was a prolific creator whose output ranged from paintings to drawings to sculptures to jewelry to designing musical instruments and handcrafted furniture.
“To me, he glowed with creativity and I could sense that he had a better existence than me because he was able to let go of what was expected of him, exist through a job as a job and live life as an artist,” Syd Hedrick wrote in an essay on Malone in 1999.
Shortly after his death, Malone’s parents, Ann and Charles Malone; his sister, Charlsie Halliburton; and her husband, John Halliburton, established the Tom Malone Endowed Memorial Scholarship at Austin Peay. The award is presented annually to aspiring students of Studio Arts. The new exhibition will support this important scholarship because many of the pieces will be available for purchase. Since his death, none of his remaining works have been sold, and all proceeds from this rare sale, including 22 framed and 46 unframed pieces, will benefit the scholarship.
Uniquely, all the framed Malone pieces were previously featured in the 2013 ART FROM INFLUENCE exhibition at the Customs House Museum. Malone’s friend and mentor, the late Olen Bryant, described these works as part of the “cultural history of the community.”
“All of his work is characterized by his own artistic integrity, and whatever medium he used, his skill as a consummate artist is apparent,” Bryant said in 1999.
To preview the works or for purchase information, visit www.apsu.edu/art-design.