by Cate Murway
Thomas Philip Furey, III, Fine Arts Artist, takes a flat piece of paper and turns it into something beautiful.
Life without art would just have no meaning.
A good deal of what artists do is tell stories. They help make sense of our world, broadening experiences and understanding. Through art, one can imagine the unimaginable, connecting to the past, the present, and the future, sometimes all at the same time.
Tom’s fascination and admiration for beauty has inspired him to represent it in oil.
Tom Furey was born in Scranton, the second child of WWII/Korean War veteran and U.S. Steel Corporation mechanic, Navy Seaman Thomas Philip Furey Jr. and June Josephine [Ruane] Furey.
While recuperating in the Veterans Hospital, Tom’s father was given paint by numbers for therapy, which he happily sent home for his 5 year old artist-to-be son, Tom, to paint with his water colors.
Tom III also traced and drew pictures and cartoons from the newspaper.
“By the time I was in first grade, I was drawing pretty well.”
He remembers sketching for his teachers on the chalkboards in St. Michael the Archangel’s School.
His artwork was admired and garnered positive attention. Besides coloring the world, Tom as a youth, played baritone horn and was a member of BSA Troop #121 led by Scoutmaster Robert Coffin.
He figured out early-on how to take ownership of his projects and learned how to individualize his art.
As a Bishop Egan junior, he made arrangements to take art lessons at Woodrow Wilson High School, pursuing painting and searching out assistance to refine his skills.
Tom worked at Robertson American Ceramic Tile and U.S. Steel to pay his tuition at BCCC, where he was taught by Fine Arts teacher Marlene E. “Mike” Miller. He secured his Fine Arts degree working with chalk, sculpture, photography, and clay and now, he works solely with oils.
While living in Baltimore, he studied at MICA: Maryland Institute College of Art | Visual Arts College.
He returned to Bristol and tried his hand in retail at the World Bazaar in the Oxford Valley Mall, before he went back to labor “with jack hammers and furnaces” in the Steel Mill in 1974. Tom advanced, “moved up” to work in different production positions, including maintenance, training, instructional design and programming. He re-enrolled at BCCC to study electrical technology and became a process control engineer.
There is an art to everything. “Part of my art training was working with metals so I turned that into a profession as a jeweler.” Tom worked with the famous jewelers, Art Berman and Tim Foster in Yardley and he located his own apartment on Mill Street. Thomas Profy, Sr. was enjoying a cup of coffee on his porch and he noticed Tom and he asked him to complete some minor contracting jobs for him. He showed him the upstairs of one of his buildings, the former McCrory’s, with the most incredible windows and 20’ ceilings.
Tom rented and shared this art co-op space from 1975 to 1998 with the nationally recognized portrait painter and former book-cover illustrator John Ennis, and with Neil McIlvaine, founder of Matrix Design LLC, a product development consultancy.
He also had the opportunity to work along with oil paint landscape artist Robert J. Seufert “who suggested to me to change my style. The reasoning was my love for abstract art could be used to paint realism since all realistic paintings are abstract in nature because we are creating the look of a 3d space on a 2d surface through the use of abstract shapes and color. I took his advice and the results are what I do today. So my painting style started in 1975.” www.tom-furey.com
Tom and his wife, the late Susan Carol [Amrhein] lived in Harriman and had four children. Their eldest daughter, Theresa Lynn, a Navy veteran has earned her Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and lives in Malvern, England. “She is very artistic. When she puts her mind to doing anything, she exceeds possibilities”. Theresa has given them 2 grandchildren and she shares her father’s skills.
“I have followed my passion and now find myself blessed to be working in beautiful locations. My father and mother have always been creative influences in my life. Throughout my childhood, my mother was always sewing, creating pottery, and various homemade items; whilst my dad would paint, draw, photograph, video or create jewelry. My paternal grandfather also enjoyed painting and photography. In my mind, creativity and artistic ability definitely appear to have familial links. What I do know is that from an early age, my father would encourage and challenge my artist creativity and critical thinking. One time in particular was that I remember him posing the question, “How did I know what I see as blue was what he saw as blue?’’ My father used this as an example to explain to me how subjective color was.” Tom’s favorite color is royal blue.
“I think my father’s creativity, intelligence and artistic talent has influenced and shaped the person I have become and the path I have taken in life. I could not be more thankful.”
Both of Tom and Sue’s other daughters, Lisa Marie and Jennifer Eileen, who has 3 children, work in finance. Thomas Philip IV is their only son.
Tom has worked as a house and apartment complex painter, a technical illustrator and a web programmer. He has always done commissioned works. He is the only artist of the Furey siblings and he has entered many local and New York shows with much success.
His eldest sister, Margaret Mary “Peg” ran a printing press business; the late Martin Patrick was a Marine veteran, and Alice Marie resides in Florida.
Tom’s educational mentors, along with his own consistently high work ethic, a strong skill set and a desire to express himself, has created a winning combination.
“The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” Paul Strand [1890 –1976] American photographer and filmmaker
Bernard Mazzocchi hired Tom to paint detail work in his home. Tom then created a beautiful oil painting rendering of the Mazzocchi’s front door.
This one is special to Tom’s daughter, Theresa. “One particular painting of a colonial house door adorned with a wreath will forever be my favorite.”
Tom built a spacious studio onto the back of his home and dedicated himself to his work.
Being an artist could be a very solitary type of thing, which is not the purpose of art. The artists want to share their developed personal style.
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henry Ward Beecher [1813 –1887] abolitionist, social reformer, novelist, essayist and speaker.
May life throw Tom a pleasant curve, starting at Playmasters, a non-profit Community Theater group. This is his first show in 40 years, a chance for exposure and a venue to sell his incredible art. It was the suggestion of watercolorist and art educator, AOB Vice President Gail Bracegirdle at a recent meeting that he start his marketing and public relations.
His dream is a reality with his displayed works that include landscapes, still life and even a pet portrait. The exhibition of selected pieces of his art can be viewed after 7:00 p.m. from December 11th through the 14th, the performance nights of “A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking” at Playmasters. The theater is on State Road, 3/4 of a mile north of Street Road, tucked in the Neshaminy State Park.
An art show can be a social and community bonding experience; a great opportunity to share art with the community, have some interesting conversation, and get some feedback.
Artist Tom Furey is the President Elect of the service club, Kiwanis International; the founder of the BCTHS Foundation of Educational Excellence, a member of the Hibernians, and a member the Artists of Bristol, forever promoting and providing exposure for Artists to enhance the legacy of arts, culture and education in the local community. “I’m very much tied to Bristol.”
Tom’s “Luncheon on the Delaware” is an interior composition of the historic King George Inn II located in Bristol, PA, was painted for the 300 year anniversary of Bristo. This was accepted in the prestigious New York Art Exhibit for the Allied Artists of America, Inc. and the original was sold immediately and resides in New York.
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