THOM MADRO Haleiwa's Most Talented Accidental Artist by Kaya Morgan
When visiting Oahu, whether you’re looking for some fun in the sun, a great place to catch a sumptuous bite while gazing at the waves, or are in the mood for some first-class shopping, a trip to the North Shore is a must. With its spectacular, unspoiled beaches and world-famous surfing spots, there is something for everyone. With galleries on both ends of Haleiwa town, you just might get to meet one of Oahu’s best kept secrets and accomplished artists — Thom Madro — busy working away on a new art piece at one of his two Haleiwa galleries.
No surprise he's in such high demand. Thom's original works have been collected by the rich and famous including President George Bush, President George W. Bush, former Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, Elizabeth Busch Burke, Cher, Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Joseph Cusumano, Wayne Newton, sports stars James Farrior and Stevonne Smith, along with Mayor Liao Yuchi of Taiwan, just to name a few.
Not all artists have had the advantage of a life like Thom’s. It's more akin to a fairy-tale, yet grounded in reality. The eldest of five children born and raised in Ohio, life was the picture-perfect American TV Leave It To Beaver-style family. Dad was a professional football coach at the University of Cincinnati who made sure the family was always engaged in life. Daily, the family gathered ‘round the table together’ for breakfast and dinner and discussed the daily events and world news. “My dad was always in the news,” recalls Thom. “We moved from Cincinnati when he became the assistant coach for the L.A. Rams in 1955. He jumped to the L.A. Chargers in 1960, finally coaching the Oakland Raiders for the next 20 years. Dad coached NFL teams for a total of thirty-nine glorious years with winning teams throughout his whole career!” Thom continued. Not a bad life for any boy.
Luckily for Thom, upon moving to Los Angeles, a rather famous neighbor, Joseph Barbara — of the famed Hana Barbara Studios — convinced his parents that Thom’s talents warranted some formal art instruction. So, by age six, he began art lessons where with boundless creativity and some well disciplined training, upon completing high school, he was accepted to San Diego State heading down the primrose path to a fine arts career. Due to his outstanding talent, Thom became the first undergraduate student ever to have a one-man show arranged by his professor prior to graduating with a B.A. in Fine Arts. Then, his first summer out of school was spent in Laguna Beach soaking up the contacts within the arts community, then moving on down the coast to LaJolla and San Diego for the next eight years.
It was the 70s, and sometimes known as a great “partying era.” Thom found himself a willing participant in too many events that were studded with drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, for Thom, he found himself seriously ill with a prognosis of a very short life expectancy. He knew it was time to take stock of where he wanted to go with what brief time might be left.
A deep seated love for all things "island" soon prompted him to head for LaHaina, Maui. By another twist of fate, the place he was living burned to the ground, and he found himself not only homeless but devoid of all material wealth including the funds he had originally brought with him. By sheer luck, he was offered a Swiss Family Robinson-style tree house “upcountry”, nestled on 20 acres and tucked away in the middle of a rainforest. “I couldn’t have loved it more! With three levels built around the trunk and branches of a huge tree with a rope bridge, I lived as close to nature as possible,” recalls Thom. That lifestyle became so healing that follow up tests proved miraculously, that Thom was in full remission. From that day forward, he made a promise to himself to leave that lifestyle behind and has never looked back.
Eventually, Thom moved back to Kihei and stopped painting altogether. He began a Swap Meet business which over the years turned into a hugely-successful art framing business. Thom became so proficient at the back-end of the art business that he served local, national and some of the most famous international galleries in the world. Private clients worldwide would send their art to Maui for framing including masterpiece originals and pieces from the renowned Dali and Chagall collections with a star-studded list of clients from Elton John to Prince Charles of England.
Yet, even with the acclaimed success of the framing business, it never quite nourished his soul. Something powerful was missing, and it was time for a change of course, once again. It didn’t take long for Thom to find an interested buyer for the business in Bill Wyland, brother of one of Hawaii’s marine life artists, Robert Wyland, leaving him free to concentrate exclusively on his first love — painting.
Classically trained in oils, Thom went through a progression of various art styles beginning with a Jackson Pollock-style as somewhat abstract, to realist and photo realist. This eventually morphed into his latest “Vibrant Expressions” collection. It is executed by combining a form of old master-style paintings using contemporary materials and technology by building thin layers of translucent and opaque acrylic, resin, lacquer, ink and other mediums. This completely unique technique provides a vision of the world never before seen or achieved by any other artist in the world.
After six years of experimental work, he combined these painting techniques with new pigments, founded the iluminARTi society, and unveiled his first collection to rave reviews. This technique is an exclusive new painting realm. Using an exclusive dual effect, the paintings in the light of day utilize brush strokes that float at different levels inside the painting. Then, when the painting prepares itself for night viewing, an entirely new set of colors within the painting turn on. The night view then provides a “hidden” painting within the painting, viewed only in the absence of daylight. The effect can last up to ten hours depending on the quality and quantity of light absorbed during the daylight hours. Only a few gallerlies around the world that represent these phenomenal works.
Fortunately for Thom, orders for commissioned work began coming in regularly with the engagement of well-known celebrities, and as an official artist for the Winter Olympics, the World Cup Equestrian, Las Vegas World Invitational Show Jumping, the FEI Budweiser World Cup, and America’s Commemorative 911 which which was commissioned for the White House collection. Thom also founded his own charity, Art Squared (Art2) with a one-night annual show in December that raises proceeds for local schools to support their art programs and supplies.
When asked what he might share with young artists trying to make their way through the industry maze, he smiles, “Be truthful, and devote yourself to your work if you expect to be successful. Remember that the past is the past, so keep looking forward.” What’s left on his own bucket list? Of course, a “paint safari to Africa," he muses — when he isn’t "rediscovering the hammock lifestyle" in his own backyard.
Although Madro may not offer huge array of limited editions, and recently one of his originals sold for six figures, some of his original collections are quite reasonably priced. He truly believes that everyone should have the ability to own and enjoy art. His collections offer a wide range of unique styles and can be seen at the two galleries in Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore along with a variety of other local artists. And, when in Las Vegas, you can visit his “Madness Shop” working studio by appointment, or overseas where his work is exclusively featured at the Thomadro Art Gallery Asia at the Liao Tea Storyland Cultural Center, Sun Moon Lake, in Nantou, Taiwan.
For more information, go to ThomadroArt.com or at AlohaFineArt.com.
More stories by journalist, Kaya Morgan, can be found on the links below.
Previously published interviews and article links soon to be available on this page include Angelina Jolie, Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Harry Connick, Jr., Nicole Kidman, Celine Dion, Sylvestor Stallone, Laila Ali, Martha Stewart, The Wrigley's, Google's Larry Page & Sergey Brin, George Lucas, Maloof Family, Casino Mogul - Steve Wynn, Wolfgang Puck, World Champion auto racer - Michael Schumacher, Top Biotech Executive - Tina Nova, International Hair Products Mogul - John Paul DeJoria, Wynn Resort, Amangani - Jackson Hole, Trinity Yachts with many more scheduled for publication.
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