Copyright 2022 The Estate of J. Sharkey Thomas 1930-2022
|Animal Artist, Jan Sharkey Thomas (1930-2022) was a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists, active until she recently passed away peacefully at home in Ganges, British Columbia, Canada at the age of 91.
Jan was voted into the Society of Animal Artists during her first of two solo exhibition in the Gallery on Six at the Madison Avenue Abercrombie and Fitch 1973 and 1977. This popular gallery helped launch the careers of several SAA members early-on, before animal painting had gained the popularity it enjoys today.
Her work was almost exclusively wildlife and nature oriented with a preference for felines, the subjects of an enormous body of work over a long lifetime (see video). For nearly three decades Jan rescued Ocelots from disenchanted owners of exotics which were then legal. Five of them became intimate family members. One of them, named 'Ishka' lived to be 25 years old, possibly a longevity record for Ocelots in captivity. Ishka was a large and muscular, magnificent model for many of Jan's big-cat subjects in both her painting and sculpture. This Ocelot had a distinctly amiable personality and will never be forgotten by those who came to know her over the years. Her youngest son Antony, sharing her affinity for these exotic animals was chief Ocelot wrestler as mother and son both, had a incredibly interactive relation with Ishka.
Jan was born and raised in the Hudson valley, New York, daughter of Bert Sharkey (1885-1952) popular illustrator, whose work was syndicated in the pages major New York newspapers and magazines in the 1930s and 40s.
In 1963 Jan moved to Ontario with her three sons and continued freelance illustration in Ottawa. Original work was handled by the Village Square Gallery in Carp Ontario for 30 years. Her reproductions and limited edition prints were handled by Pepper House Fine Arts in Ottawa.
She partnered with animal artist Clarence Tillenius for nine seasons at the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts in Penticton, working at the Game Farm and established her first studio in BC on Salt Spring Island in 1985 later, another one in 1995. Her original work was handled by Mitchell Gallery which later became Gallery Eight in Grace Point Square, Ganges, BC.
Jan is survived by her three sons; Antony, Ethan and Paul as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Also, two devoted stepdaughters in California.
Click above to play video