Located in Caroline County, Virginia, the Center is sponsored by the Sidney E. King Foundation for the Arts. The Foundation celebrates the work of Sidney E. King and other local artists, as well as promotes the arts via regular programs and special events.
A nationally renowned painter and muralist, Sidney E. King grew up in Dorchester, MA and learned painting at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, getting tips from famed John Singer Sargent.
During World War II, King was based at the US Marine Corps base in nearby Quantico, Virginia, serving as a painter of signs, combat planes, insignias and recruiting posters. After the war, he painted on commission for book publishers, churches, and others.
Developing a reputation for skilled murals, King worked with Dupont Chemicals to develop oil-based paints for use on wood to make paintings that could endure the elements (including a 100 degree temperature variance) well enough for lengthy outdoor display.
He painted the largest mural in North America, (400 feet long x 75 feet tall) in the rotunda of the Mormon Information Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as a 400 foot mural for the 1964 New York World's Fair.
Over the decades, King painted nearly 200 historic murals for the National Park Service, mostly displayed outdoors at Civil War battle sites and Historic Jamestown. He was known for his skillful painting and the historical accuracy of his works.
Sidney E. King taught painting to students in the region and painted 6 days a week until he was 92 years old. King lived most of his life in Caroline County, at "The Willows" near Bowling Green, Virginia.