Thomas was born in Minnesota in 1944, grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Karen and Knut Rude. Neither was an artist nor were his parents. Thomas ignored this. Cruising Minneapolis streets at night, from White Castle to a frozen Minnehaha creek for a skate, he always carried his wooden box of X-Acto knives and a lumber scrap or two. Thomas whittled human heads of pine, coloring them with dark shoe polish: blacks and cordovans. Later he would flee to California to further develop his art.

“My artwork refers to a journey through my own mysterious world, churning up artifacts, looking for answers. It is a dramatization of that which is significant to me when I go to make art. The shapes, colors, materials, ingredients are all specific and agonized over and accidentally stumbled upon. It is often surprising what comes flapping or oozing out and what remains persistently elusive.”


Self taught. In 1971 officially went into the business of custom woodcarving: Signs, doors, mantelpieces, sculpture, foundry patterns, restoration: “Orders for carved work of any description will be attended to with fidelity and despatch.” In 1987 began creating limited edition linocuts as well.


Carved wood, using hand tools (knives, gouges, mallets), significant found objects, paper collage, copper and other metals, paint, sometimes clay.


Folk art, Byzantine art, found objects with a history, blues harmonica, the alchemy of invention.


Numerous shows at West Coast locations including:

  • California Crafts Museum, San Francisco
  • La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles
  • Braunstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco
  • Elaine Potter Gallery, San Francisco
  • Kelley House Historical Museum, Mendocino, CA

Current Representation:

  • Portland Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery, Portland, OR
  • Simon Mace Gallery, Port Townsend,


TV features including:”Art Scan,” KRCB-TV, and “Back Roads,” KQED public television, San Francisco.

Numerous newspapers and magazines including Oregon Home, American Craft, Home and Garden, Sunset, Artweek.


  • Oingo Boingo, Los Angeles, CA (background art)
  • Millard Sheets, California School of Water Colorists, Anchor Bay, CA
  • David Wolper Productions, Los Angeles, CA
  • Masonite Corporation, Ukiah, CA
  • Authors Jean Auel and Danielle Steele
  • (Robin Williams had a whirligig of mine on hold at Virginia Breier Gallery, in 1985. After several months passed, with no sign of Robin, Virginia sold it to a cosmetic surgeon who was desperate for it.)


  • Arts in the Schools grant recipient, Point Arena, CA
  • Coastal Ridge Education and Research Center, Point Arena, CA
  • Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, CA
  • Acorn School, Point Arena, CA
  • Gualala Art Center, Gualala, CA
  • Bush Barn Art Center, Salem, OR