The Terry National Art Exhibit was a prestigious and exciting development in the fine art world in the 1950s. Edward B. Terry devised the exhibit in conjunction with the Terry Art Institute, which was located in the Coral Gables neighborhood of Miami, on SW 27th Avenue at 10th Street. The Terry Art Institute boasted one of the most beautiful, spacious and modern buildings in the South, used exclusively for art. It billed itself as, "Florida's Outstanding Art Institution."
Artist Marion Terry served as president and head of the Terry Art Institute and E. B. Terry served as treasurer. The institute offered day and evening classes in all forms of commercial art and costume design, as well as the fine arts. An excellent faculty included such well-known artists as Marion Terry, Paul Laessle, Chester Tingler, and Joe Adams.
Registrations resulted in students from such places as Winnipeg, Canada, New Mexico, Ohio and many other far off places in the States.
In 1951, the Terry National Art Exhibit caused a nationwide stir in art circles. The concept behind the huge national art show was to feature the best work of artists from every section of the country. Said E. B. Terry, promoter of the show, “I don’t care if they all go to Kalamazoo or New York or Coral Gables. Pick the best paintings regardless of place.” Which the exhibit curators did, with the result that the artists featured spanned the country; many achieved broad recognition in the art world.
Exhibits were held in subsequent years. One article claimed that among the art events of 1952 none attracted more attention among artists than the Terry National Art Exhibit held in Miami, Florida.
In 1953, the media characterized the exhibit as “extravagant” with very generous prizes awarded, at the Dinner Key auditorium in Miami. The exhibition was said to have cost $85,000 and featured some of the highest art awards in history, with $13,000, given out. Artists from 47 states were represented. The Terry Art Institute was short-lived; by 1955 Marion Terry had relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she continued her art career independently.
Among those whose works won the Terry National Art Exhibit prizes were James Brown (First Place), Lamar Dodd (Honorable Mention) and Ellis Wilson, whose $3,000 award allowed him to travel to and paint in Haiti.
Selected List of Artists Associated With and/or Whose Work was Featured at the Terry:
Marion E. Terry
Ruth Erb Hoffman
Ellis Wilson - who received a $3000 award
Allan Hugh Clarke
Patricia Lee Morrison
Phyllis Rosen Cohen
Mary Lee Cull
Dorothy Lake Gregory
Howard A. Jacobs
Myrtle Anne Charles Otto
G. Russell Tolton
Don Adams - yes, the actor from “Get Smart”