The community is invited to the unveiling of 1st Lt. Thurston “Turk” Griffith, Jr.’s painting that will be hung in the lobby of Griffith Gymnasium at 6 p.m. Monday, May 12.
Griffith Gym is named after 1st Lt. Thurston “Turk” Griffith, Jr., a 1958 graduate of Los Alamos High School. Griffith was awarded posthumously by General William Westmoreland the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, The Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
In December of 1964, Griffith was assigned to the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam. He served as an adviser to units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam in Binh Tuy Province. On Jan. 17, 1965, the Vietnamese unit was ambushed by a Viet Cong force. It was in this battle that Griffith lost his life. He was the first New Mexican killed in the Vietnam War.
Robert Wells, the project facilitator was a 1962 U.S. Military Academy classmate of Turk Griffith. Wells, regardless of having lived in Los Alamos for 30 years, did not know that Griffith Gym was named after his West Point classmate until the rededication of Griffith Gym in May of 2012. While a letter-sized bronze plaque over a water fountain has existed in the gym for years, Wells felt that Griffith warranted a memorial that anyone entering the gym will understand why he is being recognized for his Los Alamos High School achievements, his West Point career and his heroic combat-related sacrifice in Vietnam. Wells personally was committed to this project and its success.
The painting of Griffith was done by Master Artist Paul Milosevich. He graduated from California State University-Long Beach in 1965. He studied with several established artists, such as Bettina Steinke, and taught art at Odessa College and Texas Technical University in Lubbock. In 1991, Texas Tech University Press published Out of the Ordinary: The Art of Paul Milosevich. Milosevich’s work is in numerous collections, such as the United States Golf Association, Disney Corporation, National Ranching Heritage Museum, Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, Museum of Southwest, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Professional Football Hall of Fame, Royal & Ancient Museum (Scotland), Buick Museum, PGA of America, and Museum of Texas Tech University.
Milosevich lives in Santa Fe. In addition to art, he has had a long time interest in golf (having co-authored a book titled, Texas Golf Legends, containing 100 of Milosevich portraits) and country music (having been elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the West Texas (Buddy Holly) Walk of Fame. Milosevich was the Official Portrait Artist for the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup Team (PGA Commission). He has been featured in Southwest Art magazine, on the NBC “Today” show, the “Texas Country Reporter” television show, Japan’s “Golf Digest” magazine and Golf Illustrated magazine.
Master Printmaker Stephen Zeifman oversaw the canvas stretching, framing and artwork crating for the shipment from Santa Fe to Los Alamos. Zeifman owns and operates Rush Creek Editions in Santa Fe, one of the premier digital fine art printing studios in the United States. Zeifman and his staff create museum-quality fine-art prints and box sets for photographers, artists, collectors and museums. He is originally from Canada and has been practicing and teaching photographic, painting and printmaking arts since 1969. He created one of Canada’s most advanced and innovative secondary school art programs at Bishop Strachan School in Toronto, where he received the Teacher of the Year Award from both students and colleagues. Zeifman has exhibited photography and paintings in commercial and non-commercial galleries in Canada and the U.S. He also has published several works of fiction and a series of paintings, assemblages and sculptures based on his fondness for Newfoundland.
In 2013, Zeifman completed a short film titled “Looking for Mr. Stieglitz,” for which he was both writer and director. The film stars Rachel de la Tore (known for her work in the 2008 movie Appaloosa and the 2009 movie Whisky Flats) and Tone Forrest (known for his work in the 2009 movies The Eye and Conspiracy and the 2013 movie Banshee Chapter).
The Los Alamos Athletic Department would like to issue a special invitation to members of the graduation class of 1958 of Los Alamos High School to join us in this celebration. For more information, contact Los Alamos High School Athletic Director Vicki Nelms at 505.663.2532.