Thurston Wells Munson was born to Frank Manuel Munson, and Dollie Jane (Wells) Munson. When Thurston was 17 he became a deckhand on a ship to Guatemala to earn money so that he could attend the Museum School of Art in Philadelphia. A prize he won for an early work paid for a trip to Paris where he ran into Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway. "I can't say I was an intimate member of the group, but I used to drink coffee with them at the Dome," Munson said. "I kept my mouth shut, and my eyes and ears open." Munson paid for a trip to southern France with funds from the sale of a portrait and from playing poker, worked his way to Algeria and hitchiked through North Africa. In 1928, he worked his way to Bombay as a deckhand on a sheep boat. He traveled through the bandit-over-run Khyber Pass in Kashmir. In Srinagar, he was commissioned to paint life-sized portraits of the British commissioner and his three predecessors, before going back to Paris and opening his first studio. In 1929, he had an exhibition of his work in Paris, France. Mr. Munson returned to the United States in 1929. He had studied in Paris and London. In the autumn of 1930, Thurston W. Munson and his brother, Claude H. Munson had a showing of their combined works at the Artist's Guild of Springfield. As noted in the Tuesday December 2, 1929 edition of the Springfield Republican: "ARTIST"S GUILD SHOW - Oils, Water Colors, Block Prints and Etchings of Quality. The fall exhibition of the Artist's Guild in Springfield, at it's Studio, 62 Harrison Avenue (east of Dwight Street), is a varied and pleasant show of paintings in oil and water-color,... Thurston Munson shows an especially interesting group of paintings and figures. Especially notable is the "Market at Montreal," a well filled canvas in which people and cattle are effectively grouped in a decorative design. The artist's brother Claude H. Munson, shows a group of studies of clouds, trees, and sand dunes..."
During the Depression, Thurston Munson was a muralist, pool hustler, and boxed professionally as "Kid Munson."
He painted large murals for hotels and restaurants during the 1930's, including an exotic mural in Adajian's restaurant on Asylum Street in Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1934, Munson had an exhibition in New York, and by 1935, he was designing nightclubs. In 1950, Munson had studios in Springfield, and Rockport, MA. He was a member of the Rockport Art Association. In 1952, he became a partner in the Springfield architectural and engineering firm of Munson & Mallis. Munson designed sets for Berkshire Ballet productions of "Firebird" and "Giselle", as well as portaits of players for the original Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. His murals and portraits can be found in Rockport, MA., and other Eastern states. Munson designed churches throughout New England, and created a 92-foot mosaic for the Church of the Holy Cross in Portland, Maine. He was past president (1963), of the Society of American Registered Architects. In 1988, he established a studio in Mexico, and published a booklet of his portraits in 1991.
[Bio by contributor SonofaBourbeau. Much of the material above is from Thurston's October 10, 1998 obituary published in The Day newspaper]
Emily Majeska Munson