Our Town: Painting in a pandemic, with Richard Lipke

The virus has pushed him to work even harder, creating 34 paintings since October.

  • Monday, August 24, 2020 2:17pm
  • Arts

Editor’s note: This occasional column, presented in partnership with Vashon Island Visual Artists (ViVA), re-introduces islanders to old friends in Vashon’s vibrant artistic community. This week, we hear about what brought painter Richard Lipke to Vashon, what has kept him here so long, and what he has been creating in the era of coronavirus.

Lipke began his artistic journey in Kenosha, Wisconsin and started drawing before age 12, using old paper window shades to have a larger canvas. He was also playing some serious guitar at a young age. He left Kenosha for the wild west of Madison, meanwhile painting all the time and showing around Wisconsin.

In 1973, Lipke headed west in a $300 pickup truck and ended up on the Vashon Dock, trying to find the one person he knew in the Northwest, Cletis Goldman.

Lipke did find Goldman after a night spent in the Dockton parking lot, and thus began his artistic and community life on Vashon. He has shown on Vashon, most recently at Sugar Shack, and at some off-island venues, although his clients are primarily private commissions. A painting of Lipke’s became the poster and symbol for “Catch Us While You Can”, a visual and performing art show at Open Space for Arts & Community. That image was originally bought by a woman in a religious group who spoke in tongues and decided Lipke’s work “touched God.” She bought four pieces.

Painter Richard Lipke arrived on Vashon in 1973, trying to find the one person he knew in the Pacific Northwest (Courtesy Photo).

Painter Richard Lipke arrived on Vashon in 1973, trying to find the one person he knew in the Pacific Northwest (Courtesy Photo).

Like many artists, he has worked to support his art — first at the Vashon Children’s Center and then as business manager of Granny’s Attic. Richard’s previous style was painstakingly geometric but he now works in acrylics and has radically changed styles in the last year into creating more abstract expression compositions. The virus has pushed him to work even harder, creating 34 paintings since October.

He noted that in one painting done in March he could see the “COVID fear reflected in it.”

Lipke works big so the canvases he creates are anywhere from 72 inches square and smaller and the brushes that he makes are big as well. A long way from paper window shades!

Reach Lipke at rlipke@centurytel.net. For more information about Vashon Island Visual Artists and to find out how to book a private studio visit with a local artist through ViVA’s “Art by Appointment” program, visit vivartists.com.

— By Christine Beck, for ViVA.


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