Ted Ludwiczak

 

Ludwiczak ecame a stone carver after his retirement and created an environment around his home on the Hudson River, north of New York City, made up of hundreds of faceshe carved in stone.His life has been an adventurous odyssey. As an accidental stowaway, he left his native Poland in 1949 on a cargo ship sailing to India through the Mediterranean.On the return voyage he left the ship in Italy and became a German-speaking guide in Rome with a souvenir business on the side. His aunts, who had lived in NewYork City for some time, encouraged him to join them there. When he applied for a visa his language skills so impressed the staff that he was offered a job with theU.S. Army. He worked for five years in Frankfurt, German, and was made an honorary master sergeant, with his own car and driver. He became an expert on wineand lived the good life; but his aunts were adamant that he come to New York, we he did finally in 1956. In America Ludwiczak learned to grind contact lenses andeventually started his own business. He retired in 1986.He started carving in 1988 when he was building a red sandstone retaining wall on his property that abuts the Hudson River. He carved a face on one of the stonesand cemented it into his wall. He said it looked lonely, so he added more. Eventually he added hundreds of heads from the water level of the river, up the hillside to his house, and in front of the house facing the road. The environment created by Ludwiczak’s sculptures is powerful and startling to see for thefirst time. It is a mysterious and striking scene, often compared to the impact made by the figures on Easter Island in the Pacific.Ludwiczak’s favorite carving tool is the metal blade from an old lawn mower, although he uses other tools as well. Following his first carvings in red sandstone thathe found on the river bank, he subsequently used granite, white limestone, curbstones, and even marble. The carved heads range in size from a few inches to three or four feet in height, and may weigh hundreds of pounds. Ludwiczak transported some of the stones in the winter using a sled with the help of his son.The faces he sculpts have a wide range of expression. Some are thin and tall and others are jowled. Some have an enigmatic smile and others express strong emotionor portray a man singing. They are primarilymale faces and often reminiscent of Greek or Cycladic figures. Ludwiczak finds the face inherent in each stone and bringsout the character as he sees it. He does not repeat himself because the nature of and form of the stone determines the face. His affinity is to the stone.While he is basically interested in the front of the human face with its many variations, Ludwiczak’s work is more than bas-relief carving. His heads are worked in theround as he sees the face develop. As he follows the shape of the stone he says it talks to him. Some stones have more than one face. On occasion he groups themtogether or stacks them one on top of another.Most of his stone carvings remain on his property, but he does sell some. His sculptures reflect Ludwiczak’s personality. He ascribes his success in many enterprisesand his ability to adjust to life in different cultures to his good education, travel, and his innate optimism. And to this must be added his energy, talent, and creativity.