Editor’s Note: Esteemed painter, sculptor and designer Sheldon Seidler passed away on November 23, 2015. Here, Myles Ludwig offers a tribute in memory of his close friend and occasional business partner.
by Myles Ludwig
Thanksgiving Day 2015. I am thankful Shel Seidler has been in my life for nearly half a century. Writing this on the plane, flying from Florida to California, and finishing it at my daughter’s home in Los Angeles, he is at my side, though he’s passed into another dimension, a borderless blend of colors much like his later painting.
Dear friend, wise teacher, mentor and motivator, business partner and brother, Shel’s been a constant in my life, a touchstone, since first we met serendipitously in Greensboro, North Carolina to judge the Art Director’s Club show there.
Shel has been generous, practical, precise, kind, persuasive, intense, gentle, understanding and charming. He had a ready smile, and yet, I can’t remember him laughing or telling a joke of any kind. He once told me his nickname in the military was “Angles.” He looked at life from an angle.
He was daring and yes, even reckless. We were reckless together, shared so many adventures here and abroad: Mexico, Martinique, Thailand and Hawaii. It’s a long list I savor. We worked together. He designed the first official magazine of the winter Olympic Games I invented and on which we partnered and the first issue of North Shore magazine I founded after moving from New York to Kauai, setting the template for me to follow. We were thoughtful together about love, family, the struggles and excitements of living, the ephemeral creation of work that satisfies, even if only momentarily.
Images from sheldonseidler.com
At home, I have a framed photo of us at the party we threw on the pub date of our magazine, Olympic. We’d rented the skating rink and restaurant in Rockefeller Plaza for the event and peopled it with friends, family, colleagues and a dash of glamour. It’s a black and white in a brushed aluminum frame. There am I in my pinstripe suit and still fresh beard, trying to look older and editorial and business-like, and there is he in his familiar saddle-colored suede blazer and black open-neck shirt, looking younger… a jaunty elegance as formal and natural as the gap between his front teeth, the white space that lent perspective, the angle. Debonair and devilish.
In those days, we spoke every day. In response to the question: “How are you?” We would both answer: “Still breathing.”
As precise and neat as his work as a designer has always been—I watched him make tiny thumbnails, truly no bigger than a thumbnail, to work out his graphic designs for annual reports, corporate brochures, magazines—so too were the fine line drawings of nudes he fashioned in my garden on Kauai, so too are his fluid and nuanced and breathy paintings of vaporous color.
He is still breathing in my mind.
The following piece on Shel Seidler’s work was featured in PRINT XXL:VI, for which he also designed the cover. Click each image to view an enlarged version: