A prominent early Texas artist and muralist who lived in El Paso, Eugene Thurston was also a teacher and lecturer. For his landscapes, much of his subject matter came from the area surrounding his home. He was a prolific painter, continuing into his 80s, and worked in oil, watercolor, and ink and depicted desert and mountain scenes and also Mexican villages.
He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in El Paso where he graduated from El Paso High School. Then he studied commercial art through a correspondence course from the Federal School of Art in Minneapolis.
Between 1940 and 1966, he taught art courses at El Paso Technical Institute and El Paso High School. He also continued his own study with Harry B Wagoner and Dey de Ribcowsky at Texas Western College, and with Vera Wise.
Eugene Thurston was born in Memphis, Tennessee on November 5, 1896, but moved with his family to El Paso in 1906. He attended El Paso High School, where he was a cartoonist for the school newspaper. After serving in the Army until the end of WWI, Thurston began taking correspondence art courses and learning about commercial art from local proprietors. He then established a greeting card business. The card business lasted only until the Depression, and Thurston began teaching art at El Paso Technical Institute.
While he continued to teach for twenty-five years, Thurston also busied himself with establishing El Paso as a visual arts center. He was a charter member of several associations including the El Paso Art Guild, the De Norte Arts and Crafts Guild, The El Paso Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters and the El Paso Art Association.
Mr. Thurston's paintings are displayed in the Congressional office building in Washington, D.C. and New Mexico's governor's office. Mr. Thurston was the recipient of the Mentors of Today Award given by the Texas House of Representatives and an award from the National Society of Arts and Letters.
Selected Biographical and Career Highlights
1896, Born in Memphis, Tennessee (raised in El Paso, Texas)
1940-1966, Art instructor, El Paso Technical Institute and El Paso High School
1993, Dies in El Paso, Texas
1924, International Fair and Exposition, El Paso, Texas
1927, Edgar B. Davis Competition, San Antonio, Texas
1927-28, Annual Texas Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth, Texas
1928, El Paso Art Guild, El Paso, Texas
1951, Texas Fine Arts Association
1977, Dos Parajos Gallery, El Paso, Texas
1981, El Paso Centennial Museum, El Paso, Texas
Selected Public Collections
McKee Foundation, El Paso, Texas
Southwest National Bank, El Paso, Texas
Texas Capitol Historical Artifacts Collection, Austin, Texas
Texas Retired Teachers Association Collection, Austin, Texas
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas
El Paso Museum of Art
El Paso International Museum of Art
El Paso Art Association President’s Collection
University of Texas Library, El Paso, Texas