UC3 and The Ritz Digital Challenge are auctioning off an original watercolor portraying The Ritz Theatre and Church Street in Thomaston as it looked in 1939. The painting is being donated for the auction by Colorado artist Valerie Berry, who has a Thomaston connection – her daughter is Thomaston-Upson Archives Director Penny Cliff.
Berry explained the theme of the painting, which is 10x 17 in a 17 x 24 frame, and dated 2012.
“The theme of the painting is to portray Church Street as it would have been in 1939, with the focus on the Ritz movie theater, the main source of entertainment in that period. The styles of the cars were changing quite radically from the square bodied vehicles that had been popular since the development of the motor vehicle, to the swept back styles that were being produced from the mid-thirties. The brown and peach car is a 1931 Fiat 524. The convertible car to the right side of the painting portrays Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1935 Lincoln Sunshine Car. At the entry of the United States in World War II, his vehicle was temporarily replaced to be reinforced with steel plating to offer the president more protection. He was given a car that was previously owned by the notorious Gangster Al Capone — a bullet-proof 1929 Lincoln — a car that had been impounded by the F.B.I. upon Capone’s arrest. F.D.R was a regular visitor to Warm Springs, Georgia and would drive through Thomaston streets in his well-loved Lincoln. Customs were so very different in those days. Courtesy and civility were very much a part of the culture and remains so to some extent in the southern states in our day. One of the customs would be that a gentleman would always tip his hat if he passed by a lady on the street, as shown in the painting. The dog with the boy is a wire-haired fox terrier. Terriers had been popularized by a series of movies titled The Thin Man featuring Myrna Loy William Powell and a wire-haired fox terrier named Astro who was almost as popular as his co-actors and certainly as cute.”
The painting can be viewed in the lobby of The Ritz. Bidders can pick up their bid sheets at The Ritz Theatre. Bidding closes at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, with the winner being announced at The Ritz at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8. Bidders do not need to be present to win.
In addition to the original watercolor painting, full size reproductions are also on sale for $30, and postcard size for $3.
UC3 (Upson County Concerned Citizens) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to preserve unique, historic, family-oriented resources of Upson County. Their first goal is to obtain a digital projector to keep The Ritz open when 35 mm film movies end.