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Updated: October 6, 2022 @ 8:57 pm
Thomas Arvid at his canvas. Photo courtesy of Thomas Arvid.
‘First Pour,’ by Thomas Arvid
‘In God we Trust,’ by Thomas Arvid
‘Ladies Choice,’ by Thomas Arvid
Russ Dixon and Maria Rohe at ‘Gathering for the Pines’ in 2021.
Tana Longinette, Brittany Dean and James Cerda at ‘Gathering for the Pines’ in 2021.
Thomas Arvid at his canvas. Photo courtesy of Thomas Arvid.
They say wine is bottled poetry. For Thomas Arvid, it’s his muse.
Growing up in Detroit, the self-taught artist was always doodling in school but was wary of the trade school path. That’s where the automotive industry would try to entice anyone who showed that creative spark. Instead, he relocated to Georgia and found work in sign making and printing.
He met a girl — now his wife — and it was her mother who showed him to how to use oils.
“I started painting just a little bit. In Atlanta, I had an apartment with no artwork, so I started dabbling,” he says.
‘First Pour,’ by Thomas Arvid
On a backpacking trip through Europe, Arvid saw artists working in the streets for the first time.
“I came home with a new fire. I wondered, why don’t we have more artists painting in streets here in the U.S.? It seems that all the successful artists get hidden in studios and galleries.”
Arvid began painting at a cafe in the Buckhead area, chosing subjects that struck his fancy.
“I was kind of painting everything,” Arvid says. “But most successful artists have a niche. I decided to work on a series where everything was going to be red — a Coke can, a red Flyer wagon, a pair of red Converse shoes, red wine — in the larger than life, close-up detailed style that I’m known for.”
The snag: Every time he started to paint the red wine piece, someone at the cafe would buy his work right off the easel.
Arvid was inspired and also amazed to discover there was no one that specialized in painting wine.
“A frustration of artists is you feel like everything has been painted and every style has been done. Now, this was 26 years ago, so I couldn’t Google it. I had to go to the library and do serious research and there were different artists that might have a cafe scene with wine or a still life with wine. But nobody did it as a focused subject matter.”
Initially it was both a blessing and a curse.
“I’d go to a gallery and they’d say all you paint is wine bottles. And they would turn me down. And then lo and behold, I’d go to another gallery and they would say they couldn’t keep my paintings (displayed). They were always selling.”
Once at an outdoor art festival in Florida, a single gallery purchased his entire show. “As detailed as my artwork is, as fast as I was doing paintings, they were selling out.” 
In 2000, he started offering limited editions. This was a transformational career move that allowed him to keep up with demand and share his work with a much broader audience.
“A true artist brings something to the world that is fresh and new,” Arvid says. “These days, there is a lot of imitation and I view that as the highest form of flattery.”
He also still enjoys the Old World tradition of painting in public.
‘Ladies Choice,’ by Thomas Arvid
In September, he’ll make his third trip to Moore County to participate in a fundraising event for military charities and area fire departments, where he’ll be painting live.
“It almost helps people to step up sometimes to see the painting. Some of my works are so lifelike, they appear to be a photograph,” Arvid says. “I feel like this is part of my repertoire, that I can go anywhere and paint.”
Cami Gregg is organizing the “Gathering of the Pines” event for the Friends of Pinehurst Surgical Clinic. Established in 2019, the nonprofit’s goal is to give back to organizations that are meeting community needs.
“There are so many charities in Moore County,” says Gregg, noting the Friends sponsor two marquee events each year. “Our whole mission is to give back everything we make. We are an all volunteer group that partners with local organizations.”
The Friends raised over $130,000 for TambraPlace and nursing, medical aide and culinary student scholarships at Sandhills Community College last year. 
Russ Dixon and Maria Rohe at ‘Gathering for the Pines’ in 2021.
Hoping for an even bigger turnout, Gregg and her planning committee reached out to The Fair Barn, in Pinehurst, to see what might be available on the calendar.
One date immediately resonated.
“No one had reserved for Sept. 11. It is a solemn day in our history. We decided it was an opportunity to give back to our military and local fire departments,” Gregg says.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, from 1 to 5 p.m., at The Fair Barn, Arvid will be painting and displaying his art while guests enjoy wine tasting from Napa Valley wineries paired with small bites from local chefs. There will also be silent and live auctions. 
Tana Longinette, Brittany Dean and James Cerda at ‘Gathering for the Pines’ in 2021.
Proceeds of the event will benefit The Honor Foundation, Gold Star Teen Adventures, Quilts of Valor, local VFW, U.S. Veterans Corp. and the Moore County Chiefs Association, which will provide assistance to area fire departments.
“Our core mission is to give back as much as possible to the community,” Gregg says. “And every year, Thomas and Vanessa Arvid are generous with their time and come back to help. He is a great guy and is really easy to talk to. Event when he paints, you can chat with him.”
Tickets for the Gathering in the Pines are $55 per person; purchase online at FriendsofPSC.org.
‘In God we Trust,’ by Thomas Arvid
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