Thorpe’s legacy lives on through the many artists he taught

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sometimes people come into your life and everything changes because of their influence. It could be something bad… or it might be somebody who will influence your life for the best experience you can possibly imagine.

In the mid 1970s, Carl Thorp moved to a little place on the creek near Franklinton. He was a professional artist and immediately loved his little house, the creek and the Washington Parish area. He had painted all over the country, conducting schools and classes for budding artists.

A native of Lubbock, Texas, he received his formal education in Cali-fornia, and his life eventually led him to the New Orleans French Quarter. As he aged and semi-retired he moved on to Franklinton.

What a wonderful turn of events for the parish! He started teaching art classes and declared from the start that he had never seen so much natural talent in one place. He was anxious to share what he knew with local people, and his classes were full.

I interviewed him about the Franklinton model he had built and wrote a feature story about it and him for The Daily News. While at his studio, I mentioned that I loved to draw and paint and would be so pleased if he had an opening and would accept me as a student. The next week I was in his Tuesday night class.

I studied with him for several years, along with numerous other students. He maintained a studio and taught classes until his death in 1989.

Not only did he teach me to paint, he also convinced countless others that they could create beautiful art. He was the driving force behind the formation of the Washington Parish Art Association, which is still alive and thriving. The art association promoted talented art in local schools for our children.  

If it had not been for Carl Thorp, perhaps no one would have come along and started an art movement in this parish to the extent it is today. We honor him each year with a college scholarship for a student who will major in art.

With a demand for classes still active, Ann Warner, also a Thorp student, began to teach art in Franklinton and continues to do so today. Other teachers are also busy conducting classes for adults and children who want to be creative with paint.

What he saw here has blossomed into an art colony, as we have so many really good local artists. If you have been buying your art elsewhere, you need to stop and take a look at what is available at home.

You will have that opportunity on Saturday afternoon, March 22, when the local art association holds its fourth annual Member Show and Sale. This has been a big success from the beginning, and we have seen hundreds of art enthusiasts — locally and from the surrounding area — come to observe and to buy.

The show will be held at the large, beautiful home of professional artist Sara Nelson in Clifton, which is located approximately five miles from Franklinton on Highway 25 at the intersection of Highway 38. The work of local artists will be on display, and the Nelson home is an art show of its own.

Mark your calendar now for this show. It is the art association’s big event of the year. You will be hearing more about it as the time approaches.

Carl Thorp would be proud of what has happened in this area with art and with local artists, but he wouldn’t be surprised. He knew what could happen with so many talented people who are passionate about art.

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b@ yahoo. com.