The Gallery

The gallery at Glencoe Museum exhibits the art and works of contemporary Appalachian artists from around the New River Valley and Southwest Virginia.

“Art of RL Thomas & Nancy Kent”


Robert “RL” Thomas

Eighteen Cents A Gallon - RL ThomasRL Thomas, a native of Pulaski, comes from a long line of craftspeople and continues that tradition with his own paintings and drawings. He says that as a child he began drawing people, animals, and doodles in the margins of his schoolbooks. RL pursued art and design at the Richmond Professional Institute and continued studying at Virginia Tech and New River Community College.

RL worked in advertising and design in Roanoke, and later worked at the Radford Arsenal as a technical illustrator. He went on to found Thomas &Thomas Advertising and Public Relations in 1984. After working in design and advertising, RL became a real estate agent, retiring from that profession in 2006.

In RL’s own words:

I strive to create works that are unique and give the viewers something to enjoy and interpret on their own. The scenes I create are part reality, memory and vision. The big test of any painting is “Will it stand the test of time?” Hopefully some of the work I have created will. John Singleton, an artist said, “In time my memory may fail me…In time the memory of me, but the paintings will never forget.”

The late David Kent, a Pulaski photographer, thought I had talent seeing me decorating my grandmother Whitaker’s Store windows on Main Street, and took me to painting class when I was 12. Something clicked as I made crude strokes on the canvas…a connection between eyes, hands and heart that I have always carried with me. For me there is real magic in mixing colors, drawing subjects and carrying the paint on a magic wand ( My brush or pencil ) and seeing, hearing and feeling it touch the canvas or paper …sometimes ever so lightly as if a dragonfly touched down on a mirror like pond surface and sometimes with violent crashing as if two locomotives came together on the same track.

I feel so blessed that I am able to do what I love. I know, like my friend, Peter Wreden, a fantastic artist, said…” There is never enough time for the artist ” Norman Rockwell said the same. I more than ever feel their words in my thoughts as I put pencil to paper and brush to canvas or paper.

Nancy Kent

Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) May 7, 2017Nancy Kent describes herself both as a “dedicated student of Wildwood Park” and “that crazy lady who roams Wildwood Park with a camera.” Many residents of the region will recognize Nancy Kent as the individual whose photography is frequently showcased in local newspapers. That photography is an amazing testament to Kent’s skill and patience as a photographer and to the natural beauty of Wildwood Park. Visitors to the gallery will be stunned by Kent’s works and by the wildlife that fills the city’s park.

Nancy Kent is a long-time resident of Radford who taught school both in Radford and Pulaski County. Upon retiring from teaching, her husband and daughters gave her a digital camera, which according to Kent, opened a part of her mind and heart in an ongoing adventure of discovery and delight. In 2009,Kent participated in a nature walk of Wildwood Park, and from that point on she was “hooked” on the natural treasures of the park.

In Nancy’s own words:

I continue to be delighted by discovering new items or by enjoying familiar ones that appear each season, by finding peace in lone walks with only my camera or by visiting with friends as we walk along. I have grown to appreciate Radford’s wonderful natural treasure. I have become determined to share it as often as possible and to also help protect it. I find it difficult to explain my delight in discovery and learning about our 54 acre natural habitat so I just keep snapping photos and hope that many will get the picture.

It isn’t just about the pictures I take but it is much more so about the people I meet and the new (to me) critters I find. Most dog owners enjoy helping me get shots of their pets and I see first-hand how much they love the animals. I see mothers and grandparents with energetic youngsters who are learning to love being outdoors. I tag along with professors and students who use the park as a classroom. I greet bikers from all over the world! I walk along with visitors on foot and share info about the park and its plants. Often, sometimes several a day, I photograph moths, bugs, and even butterfly species that I have never seen before. These send me to online searches to find out what they are and what they are like. I discover breeds of dogs that I never knew about and a few are AKC registered and one was even a retired Grand Champion! Of course the lovable mutt mixes are delightful, too. I carry dog treats in my pocket and regulars greet me with knowing sniffs!

I hope that you are beginning to see that my camera is simply a vehicle to life-long learning about people and nature for me. So it isn’t so much about the end product but very much about the adventure of getting to the end product. Photos displayed at Glencoe give me an opportunity to share this adventure.

Come out and enjoy the works through August 31. Plan your visit.