SPIRIT OF STANLY 2024: Family uses a large canvas

John Thomas Williams Jr., along with his sons John “Jack” T. Williams III and Eli M. Williams, is a notable local artist with a passion for art and architecture that runs in the family. John’s artistic journey began in childhood, and he honed his skills through private art lessons in downtown Albemarle. He pursued his love for art and architecture by majoring in art and art education at Wingate College. Over the span of 30 years, he dedicated himself to teaching art in Stanly County, fostering a love for the subject in many students.

During his teaching career, John developed a deep interest in historic restoration, actively participating in the restoration of homes and buildings in downtown Albemarle. In 1999, he embarked on his first major art installation at the Boardroom Bar and Bistro, contributing to the design and overseeing the restoration process. His artistic talents were showcased in 16 large-scale paintings for the main bar area. Additionally, he created an annual Santa print for eight years.

Both of John’s sons, Jack and Eli, followed in their father’s artistic footsteps by majoring in art. Jack graduated from UNCW, while Eli pursued his art education at UNC. Together, they founded WMS Brothers, a company dedicated to restoring ghost signs, creating new signs and producing murals. Their work is prominently featured in various counties, including Stanly, Anson, Cabarrus and Montgomery. Eli even has a mural on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

The family’s current project involves the restoration of a 1929 Sinclair Gas Station, which will serve as a home and studio. John’s impact as an art educator is evident in the success of his students, many of whom have entered the art profession as designers, graphic artists, tattoo artists and more.

Nicole Williams plays a crucial role as the driving force behind her husband and sons, contributing to the family’s success by handling marketing and keeping them on schedule. Together, the Williams family continues to leave a lasting legacy in the local art scene, combining their artistic talents and passion for restoration.

This article previously appeared in the Spirit of Stanly magazine.