Jack Lorimer Gray

About the Artist

Jack Lorimer Gray was a Canadian artist, with strong ties to West Palm Beach, who was as much at home at sea as on land, and is best known for his maritime paintings.

Early Life and Education

Jack Lorimer Gray, circa 1967

Jack Lorimer Gray was the only child of Scottish parents, who emigrated to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Gray was born. Gray’s father was a civil engineer.

His artistic talent was apparent when he was a child. Growing up in a port city, near Lunenburg Bay,  Gray drew pictures of ships at sea and the crews that sailed them.

He attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, worked on fishing boats for about a year, and then went on to study at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art under the tutelage of Arthur Lismer, the English-Canadian artist who specialized in painting dazzle camouflaged ships during World War ll.

In the summer of 1947, Gray shared a studio with fellow student and artist, Joseph Purcell, who was also from Halifax. The studio was over a fish store in New Harbour, Nova Scotia. Gray also continued to paint in the port town of Lunenburg, near his childhood home, where dory fishing boats were, and still are, manufactured.

Available at Surovek Gallery:
Jack Lorimer Gray
Lone Fisherman
Oil on canvas
21 3/4 x 29 3/4 inches
Signed: Jack L. Gray (l.l.)

Career

Gray had his first solo exhibition at the Hackmatack Inn in Chester, Nova Scotia in 1948. The exhibit led to commissions, which included Gray’s illustrating Thomas Head Randall’s A Muster of Arms in 1954.

Thomas Head Randall’s A Muster of Arms and Other Stories
Illustrated by Jack Lorimer Gray, 1954

In 1955, Gray moved to New York, where he painted scenes of the New York Harbor, sometimes aboard his own 15-foot skiff, which he called the S.O.B., sometimes aboard the mothballed U.S. Navy carrier Enterprise, which gave him a spectacular view of the harbour. It was during this period that he painted what was to become known as the New York Harbor Collection, which included The Battery: Demolition of the Old Produce Exchange Building in 1957.

Gray left New York in 1959, spent two years living in Rockport, Maine, a few more years back in Halifax then, in 1966, he lived and worked aboard boats in West Palm Beach.

Jack Lorimer Gray
The Battery: Demolition of the Old Produce
Exchange Building, 1957
oil on canvas
66.04 x 92.08 cm. (26 x 36.3 in.)

In 1962, Gray presented President John F. Kennedy with Dressing Down the Gully, a fine example of the maritime painting for which he was well known.

President John F. Kennedy with Dressing Down the Gully by Jack Lorimer Gray

President John F. Kennedy with Dressing Down the Gully by Jack Lorimer Gray Cabinet Room, White House, Washington, D.C., 1962

Jack Lorimer Gray died in West Palm Beach in 1981. He was married twice and had two sons. His ashes were scattered at sea, near Lunenburg Bay, where he began his career as an artist when he was a schoolboy.

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