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Washington celebrates Alma Thomas, the late D.C. painter who sought beauty in the everyday

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Artist Alma Thomas’s distinctive style began with a passing glance through a window. In 1964, while preparing for an exhibition, the Washington painter and educator — who is now the subject of a months-long, citywide celebration, coinciding with what would have been her 130th birthday — gazed out from her living room bay window and saw the holly tree in her backyard, as if for the first time. It was a revelation. Rich with color, pressing up against the glass, the tree became an object of artistic devotion, and the window became the source of the light and patterns that pushed her work toward its signature vivid, exuberant look.

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