Remembering My Grandfather Ludlow Thorston
Ludlow Thorston, one of America's greatest watercolor artists, and more importantly my Grandfather has passed away at age 92.
92. What a long life! And man, did he live it to the fullest.
Known to me as Poppi, "Lud" was born in Irvington. His father was a professional musician in a big band. From a young age, Lud was drawn to art. From what I'm told his mother thought it was just a hobby, and wanted him to get a "real job." He stuck with his passion. Poppi and I shared that trait.
Lud attended the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts and wasn't trained in watercolor, but rather in illustration.
This print is called "Ludlow 1950." As you can see, he had a knack for illustrations, but the watercolor style was there.
The early 50s would be a life-changing time for him.
Lud was drafted during the Korean War and stationed in Evansville, Indiana. You should know that Lud was a very practical man. I remember him telling me that when he arrived in Evansville soldiers were mainly assigned one weapons system to train on. He got trained on all three because "when I get sent over there, I sure as hell wanted to know what I was doing."
While stationed in Evansville, Lud was tasked to work at the Serviceman's Club. When those higher up in the ranks learned of his artistic abilities they had him to paint a huge mural in the club. While he was never sent into combat, he had a profound effect on his fellow service members before and after they served. He was honorably discharged.
Lud was so proud to have served his country. A few years ago on Christmas Eve, he brought his uniform down for the family to see. He was beaming when he put his jacket on and it still fit. He explained the toughness of material of the uniform saying "they don't make 'em like this anymore." He discovered a still fully functioning watch in a pocket.
After returning to the civilian world, Lud would attend NYU through the G.I. Bill. Later he would earn his Masters degree. He had always struggled with words and reading. It wasn't until after his education and later in life that he would discover that he accomplished all of this despite having dyslexia.
Lud taught art in the public school system for over 20 years. The majority of that time would be spent in Parsippany. When school was out, he was a Good Humor Man. He was also regularly displaying and selling his art at shows all over. There were many times when galleries would approach him to sell his artwork, but my Grandmother had a different idea.
Why be featured, when you could be in the spotlight? In 1979, together, Lud and my Grandmother Nell opened the first Ludlow Thorston Gallery in Seaside Park.
While Lud's paintings were front and center, my Grandmother added to the gallery with gifts, crafts (some made by her), and cards that really brought everything together.
The gallery thrived. So much so that my Grandparents would soon open another in Bay Head.
That would be followed by their third location in Island Heights. That gallery is still open and run by my Grandmother who is 88.
The phrase "one of a kind" is thrown around a lot. But, my Grandfather was truly that.
That picture says it all. I enjoyed his wit and wisdom the most. There was rarely a time when you wouldn't share a laugh when in his company. And stories, he had a ton!
It wouldn't be uncommon for him to show up for a holiday dinner dressed like this, for no reason.
His humor came primarily from people taking life too seriously. Any time I was having a tough time, he'd always remind me that in life one must "keep it light, and keep it moving."
His favorite quotes were "be content and riches will come" and "to do is to love."
Lud's outlook on life was profoundly simplistic, if that makes any sense.
This was a gift that he gave my brother.
Maine was a second home to my Grandfather. He and my father would go camping there regurally. The sights of Maine would be subjects of many of his works.
Lud would occasionally come to my elementary school and do live demonstrations during art class. I was so proud to say that's my Poppi!
While I'm going to miss him tremendously, my Grandfather's life lives on through his artwork hanging on walls all over the world and in my house.
My favorite painting from my Grandfather is an original and has never been put into print. It hangs in my Mom's house and according to her "isn't going anywhere."
Lud painted this and put in the window of the Seaside Park gallery when I was born. I was his first grandchild. He then framed it and gave it to my parents.
I truly feel I'm a better person having Ludlow Thorston in my life. Keep it light and keep it movin'.