Celtic teammate
Tommy Heinsohn,
as it turned out,
also happened to
be an artist,
encouraging Lynn to
pick up a paintbrush.

Jim Locutoff was a star on
seven World Champion
Boston Celtic teams,
with teammates
Bill Russell and
Bob Cousey.

Lynn is hosting an
open house at her
studio in Naples on
March 20 as part of a
benefit for the Naples
Parkinson’s Association.

For the Love of
Basketball and Art

by Julie Clay

WITH THE RECENT passing of Boston Celtics legend Jim Loscutoff, basketball fans knew they had lost someone special. A California-born power forward, he played his entire record-setting professional career with the Celtics from 1955-1964 – world champions seven of the ten years. Coached by the renowned Hall of Famer Red Auerbach, the lineup also included greats Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Bill Sharman, Sam Jones, and Tommy Heinsohn. Upon retiring, Loscutoff insisted his jersey number 18 not be retired so future Celtics could proudly wear it. Instead, the banner raised in his honor at the Boston Garden simply reads ‘Loscy,’ his nickname. The number was later retired to honor Celtics great, Dave Cowens.

Post-Celtics, Loscutoff and his wife Lynn opened a summer day camp, Camp Evergreen in Andover, Massechusetts, which is still owned and operated by family members. Jim also coached basketball at Boston State College (now Boston College) for many years.

Written by his wife, Lynn Leon Loscutuff, Loscy & Me: The Artist & the Boston Celtics Legend, Jim Loscutoff… A Scrapbook Memoir, tells not just his story, but their story together, portraying what life was like over the years for Lynn behind the scenes as wife, mother and aspiring painter with dreams of her own.

Lynn recalls the fledgling team, “When Jim was playing in those early years, Boston was not at all interested in basketball; they loved hockey. As a young fan, I kept a scrapbook of my husband. The reporters would give me the original 8 x 10s. I kept those. They were pretty special and at that time neither the Celtics or the newspapers were keeping archives.” ‘Loscy and Me’ is that archive.

Life as the spouse of a professional athlete, especially back in those days, could be a lonely time, with all the ‘away’ games; then constant practices and commitments while home. As it turns out, writing this book was somewhat cathartic for Lynn. “When I started writing it 30 years ago it was to vent a little of my frustration because of the rules that Red set up as far as the wives were concerned. We were off the radar. The publishers would say that I’d have to write my own story – so I did. Then as time went on, I fought for my own interests.”

She continues, “To me, all of the years were very interesting. All of the years were very different. The years Jim played and we had babies. Then when we started our camp and Jim and I were working together, we found how different we were. Then I went into Boston and went into the arts.”

In the book, Lynn details how her goal had always been to paint, but raising their three children and supporting her husband’s livelihood came first. It wasn’t until after he retired from the Celtics and subsequent coaching career, and after they got Camp Evergreen off the ground, that Lynn even considered rekindling her passion for painting. Celtic teammate Tommy Heinsohn, as it turned out, also happened to be an artist, encouraging Lynn to once again pick up a paintbrush. She also got involved with Boston’s famed Copley Society of Art, eventually joining its Board of Directors.

“I was able to start really painting and traveling and got a studio for myself. I was fortunate to have all the opportunities when I was writing the book. The world was my canvas,” Lynn shares, “When I actually wrote a couple of books on painting and traveling, I had the opportunity to teach on cruise ships. I really enjoyed seeing different things and sketching them. What’s significant was that I was able to take my love of painting all over the world. When I look back at everywhere I went, I am astounded.”

One memory in particular always comes to mind. “The first time I was invited to teach on the Queen Elizabeth II was when it was going out just after 9/11. That experience was so extraordinary. Most of the American passengers cancelled, but my friend and I went. It was a memorable time. At first I had 20 people in a class, then the class grew to 100 students and people watching. Most of these students didn’t speak English and they were sharing equipment. The crew would be looking for papers and pencils when we docked. What I realized was how these people needed to be close to each other. It’s probably the most memorable teaching experience I’ve ever had.”

Teaching and being outdoors are two of her favorite things, the latter of which is reflected in her work consisting largely of vibrant garden displays. “I concentrate mostly on watercolors. I work on a particular kind of paper called Yupo. It has a surface that allows you to wipe off and start over. People think that watercolor is not correctable, but I’ve come upon this particular technique.” She continues, “I love color and line and letting the paint move around, and to teach a method that allows the freedom of the watercolors.”

Operating out of studios both in Gloucester, Massechusetts as well as here in Naples at Artisans Plaza, Lynn has also taught at the Naples Art Association.

Acclaimed painter and author today, devoted Celtics wife and mother in an earlier, busier time, Mrs. Loscutoff has certainly experienced a life of excitement.

She reminices, “It was different then. We all sat together at games. We helped each other with babies. Players often carpooled to the airport and practice. We were some young couples just struggling along in that particular employment. Now it’s a huge business all over the world and the salaries are so incredibly high. In those days all the players had summer jobs,” adding “I miss the camaraderie. Jim missed all the friendships that he had with his teammates.”

“My husband passed away December 1 and the Celtics invited [the family] to their home game on December 9. We sat in a private box, about 20 or 30 of us, and when the team came out to warm up they were all wearing shirts that said ‘Loscy’ on them. They also acknowledged Jim on the scoreboard. It was quite a tribute and very special.”

Her Naples studio is one of 16 that are hosting open houses and will be showcasing artists’ works as part of an upcoming benefit on Sunday, March 20 for the Naples Parkinson’s Association. This is a cause dear to Lynn’s heart as Jim suffered from Parkinson’s disease in his later years. Studios will be open 1-5pm.

On Saturday, March 26, from 10am-12pm, Lynn will be signing her book at Barnes & Noble in the Waterside Shop, located at 5377 Tamiami Trail N. in Naples.

Loscy & Me, the Artist & the Boston Celtics Legend, Jim Loscutoff… A Scrapbook Memoir is available in bookstores and online. For information about the book as well as Lynn’s artwork, visit www.Lynnloscutoff.com. Lynn’s studio is #8 at Artisan’s Plaza, located at 5760 Shirley St. in Naples. For information, call 776-2680. •

March-April 2016