Mort Luby Jr. donates Joe Thum painting as auction item for Salute to Bowling

    12/09/11

    IBMHOF News

     A large (30" x 40") oil painting of bowling pioneer Joe Thum will be the star attraction at the Salute to Bowling at the 2012 Bowling Summit next month in Napa Valley, Calif.

    Created by Bowlers Journal International publisher emeritus Mort Luby Jr., the artwork will be featured in the collection of sports memorabilia to be auctioned at the fundraiser for the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.

    Click on the image to enlarge it.

    Joe Thum was a major promotional force for the sport in the early decades of the 20th century. A poor immigrant from Germany, he began his career as a bowling proprietor when he built some alleys in the basement of his New York City saloon.

    Later, he installed 24 lanes in a building on Broadway. When friends derided the notion of such a large tenpin center, he retaliated by christening the place the "White Elephant". The establishment flourished.

    An avid internationalist, Thum was one of the chief organizers of the huge bowling exhibition which was held during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Then-BJI-publisher Mort Luby Sr. was part of the entourage that accompanied the Thum-organized American team that dominated the competition.

    Thum was also a major cog in the creation of the American Bowling Congress, precursor to the United States Bowling Congress.

    Mort Luby, Jr., 80, was editor and publisher of BJI for four decades. When he retired more than 15 years ago, he transformed himself into an artist. Over the years, his paintings have won more than 40 major awards, including four best-of-show citations. His work is displayed in five galleries in Chicago and Maui.

    Luby is currently immersed in a new project that will bring him back to publishing: a book called "Chicago Brushstrokes" will feature 100 of his Chicago-area paintings.

    The Thum painting took more than a month to complete. After researching period details (such as the actual lampposts that lined Broadway in the 1920s), Luby delved into ancient photos and stories from BJI files before taking up his brush.

    Why Joe Thum? "I've always felt that Thum is one of bowling's unsung heroes," says Luby. "He really planted the seeds for bowling's worldwide growth."

     


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