Fred (Fritz) Lipp passed away on Sunday morning. A tremendous loss for his family, his students and Rochester. I’ve written quite a bit here about him. His longtime students, our fellow painters, could find no reason to leave the advanced painting class once they found Fred. He had an amazing ability to always be there to take it up a notch. There was no end because as he often told us, he learned from the best. He conversed with Matisse, Van Gogh, El Greco and Guston when he stood in front of their paintings. “They talk to me,” he would say. And Fred loved to share what he learned. We were so lucky to have know him.
Every year the Creative Workshop would have a faculty show and Fred would show a new piece, something to blow your mind, but otherwise he was very quiet about his work. He was commissioned to create the sculpture shown above (please click on it for full photo) for Rochester General Hospital. Entitled “Omnipresent,” it was paid for by a wealthy donor and it originally sat in a courtyard where you could walk around the piece and experience the sculpture in space. The hospital expanded. The sculpture was moved to the Marion M. Whitbeck Garden, in a courtyard near the old entrance. The light that was inside the piece no longer shines. In fact it is not even wired as it was in its original location.
As fate would have it Fred spent some of his last days in this hospital and he visited his sculpture. He talked about the piece in our last conversation and we promised him we would do all we could to get the hospital to run an electric line to the sculpture. Maybe someday we will again see the light as it seeps out the artfully constructed openings.
Our friend, Alice, who was in the class when I first joined, emailed us this. “His words still ring around in my brain… when I paint or just in life… the wisdom applies to both life and art.” I’m quoting her because I feel exactly the same. It is our duty to duty to carry on with this wisdom.