TOM ALWAY was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, and grew up in the small town of Warner, New Hampshire. Living the bucolic life on a semi-farm, he was an active member of the local 4-H club and used its resources and mentoring assists to develop skills in, for example, animal fitting and showmanship, public speaking, and leadership . After graduating from Simonds Free High School he was accepted into the University of New Hampshire, majoring first in chemistry in the College of Technology and then switching to Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts, from which he received his BA.
Just after receiving his degree, Tom was accepted into the British Summer Studies Program at the University of Edinburgh and enrolled in a course on 18th Century Political Philosphy. Following this academic stint in Scotland, he came to Canada to attend graduate school at York University in Toronto, enrolling in the first master's program offered in Political Science at the university, and from which he received his MA.
Throughout his academic career, Tom had been drawn to the theatre, actively participating in student productions.
An audition with the Stratford Festival prior to his graduation from York University, led to an invitation to join the Stratford acting company at the Avon Theatre in a production of Hadrian VII starring Hume Cronyn, followed by a year-long US National Tour.
Tom returned to the Stratford Festival to appear in An Italian Straw Hat and There’s One In Every Marriage which later transferred to Broadway at the Royale Theatre, produced by the legendary David Merrick.
In the next few years, Tom performed at theatres across Canada, including the National Arts Centre in Ottawa as well as theatres in Toronto (Young Peoples Theatre, Theatre Plus and the St. Lawrence Centre) and in Vancouver (The Arts Club).
Tom also spent some time in New York to try his luck and in order to support himself landed a job with the Shubert Theatre Organization (owner of some of the most famous Broadway Theatres), and vicariously appeared on many of these Broadway stages in his role as night watchman for the Schuberts. He also substituted as a stage doorman and was asked to take over the most prestigious stage door of the season, the Plymouth Theatre, where Richard Burton was doing Equus.
In addition to acting,Tom found work as a stage manager and company manager working at Theatre New Brunswick and culminating with a Canadian tour of the Moscow based Borodin String Quartet produced by Overture Concerts of Vancouver.
By the mid ‘80’s, and ready for new challenges, Tom joined the film and television industry as a Set Decorator, both in Toronto and later in Halifax. Some of his credits include Moonlight And Valentino with Whoopi Goldberg, To Die For with Nicole Kidman and Bailey’s Mistake with Joan Plowright and Linda Hamilton, Fly Away Home with Anna Paquin. For additional listings of his Set Decoration credits click here.
In 1997, Tom moved to Nova Scotia, home of his maternal grandmother and in partnership with artist Peter Blais, established the Maritime Painted Saltbox Gallery in a heritage property in Mahone Bay.
Tom began to paint in earnest developing his technique
as a visual artist, creating bold acrylics on canvas. His
first public showing came in 2001 at the Art Sales And
Rental Gallery at the Art Gallery Of Nova Scotia in
Halifax. (Now the Teichert Gallery) That exhibit at the
New Faces Show led to subsequent invitations for two
Featured Artist shows at the Gallery: Panes and Sills
(2009, publishing a book with the same title, click on
the badge above the book image to review the book) and Sea Debris (2012).
Drawing inspiration from the landscape around him, Tom paints realistically, exploring the play of light and shadow. Sometimes with a surrealistic bent, he paints to give a sense of what is in front of the canvas, drawing the viewer into the picture. Windows and foundations have become signature motifs and the addition of modeling paste has added new texture and a new dimension to the work. Recently Tom has begun to paint what he refers to as ‘Fun Art”. Visit Tom's galleries to view his work.
In 2005, Tom and Peter relocated to Petite Riviere, Lunenburg County, NS, and reopened their gallery in a converted barn by the Petite River.
Building on their reputation established in Mahone Bay, the Painted Saltbox Gallery was soon designated as a gem by Lunenburg Region, while Nova Scotia Tourism recognized the Gallery as A must-see destination on the South Shore.In 2018, the Painted Saltbox Gallery is celebrating 20 years as an artist-owned gallery, showing exclusively the work of artist/owners, Tom Alway and Peter Blais.