In memoriam Meredith Lippman
Meredith Lippman 1952-2015 Past President of Pro Arts and Artist Advocate past away on November 8th, 2015. She was was an inspiration to many and a great friend to all who knew her. She was full of energy, smart, down-to-earth, genuine and passionate. Meredith was an artists’ advocate for the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, where she helped many artists connect with the community and grow their careers. Through this program she gave her full commitment and touched the lives of others, In addition she was also president of Pro Arts where her gift of being a natural born leader shined through. As friends, family and to anyone who knew her, we know that the mark she has left is a great one and she will forever be in our hearts through her compassion and dedication.
To honor her, Raven Williams* asked a few people that knew Meredith what was it like to work with her and what they remember most about her and here’s what they had to say.
Kathryn Klanderman Past President Pro Arts
I remember exactly when Meredith walked into my life. She was dropping off artwork for a show. Her work really spoke to me, paintings with strong vibrant colors: reds and pinks. And I found her to be a match for them. She was full of energy, genuine to her core, and with a real and true passionate love for art and other artists. She always saw the humanity in something first. She truly loved being part of a community, always going one step further to take an active role in something, never passive, not Meredith. And within all this was a deep kindness, and a strong intelligence about people and art that she had rightly earned. And she could put it all out there with conviction and truth.
Meredith was motivated by the artwork of really any medium that was first of all passionate, be it strongly or quietly, but also work in which you clearly felt the artist’s hand, voice or person somehow: work that would engage the viewer directly and personally. I would say that was her life’s work as well – through her painting, through her love of her family and friends, through her teaching, through her work for Pro Arts and Cultural Affairs. I can remember her much focused way of talking about art and always the artists behind it, and the many people in her life, artists or otherwise, whose stories she would be inspired by.
I worked with Meredith on many projects. She was terrific to work with, professional, knowledgeable and available. But perhaps more importantly, Meredith was great fun to work with. She dedicated herself to her projects because she loved them, and it showed. She always kept her sense of humor, and was always ready to take on something new.
I think above all Meredith loved her family and friends, and was so proud of her daughter Morgan and husband John. Beyond that, I think she was extremely proud of being in a position to reach out to people and make a difference in their lives. She was a wonderful artist and understood what it was like to take that on. She was always passionate about enabling other artists and building bridges between the art, the artist and the community. She was always compassionate about the struggles of others.
We shared a wonderful afternoon last winter, when we met for coffee and ended up talking for hours. Meredith was someone you could always talk with. She was a beautiful friend, woman, artist, mentor, and role model. I will always remember her tremendous warmth and her courage about things that mattered to her.
I met Meredith when she walked in off the street to volunteer with set painting for Renegade Theater Company in something like 1987. My first impression was yay! A real painter who wants to help us! Of course, I thought that about everyone who came in to help the company, but Meredith became my friend. Meredith had strong, well-thought out opinions and positions, and could tell you exactly why she felt the way she did – whether about people, social issues or art, if you wanted to argue, that was fine – welcomed actually. And if you could talk her out of her position, she was gracious and thoughtful about it. A strong, generous, incredibly compassionate and sensitive person, Meredith shared pretty much everything with me, which allowed me to do the same.
Meredith was drawn to art that knew where it stood in history, what came before – that is, art where the artist was aware that civilization has given rise to a huge body of great art. And with public art, was drawn to work that had a clear relationship to the environment in which it was showing. If a piece could change someone’s perception, it was good art
Meredith’s greatest achievement was her ability to switch from making her own art, and pour all that experience and knowledge into her work with the County, creating special projects that brought art to the public. I don’t know many accomplished artists who make that transition willingly, but Meredith believed in the community of artists, and believed in art, and its power to transform. Meredith’s politics guided much of what she did in her life, and if art could serve as a lens through which she could direct people to see differently, then for her, to make a much greater impact than anything she could do in her studio meant that she wasn’t giving up as much as everyone else thought she was.
At the time of her death, Meredith and I were scheming to do a large, public light/film project. I’d get emails at all times of the day or night with nothing in them but a link to something she’d found that had sparked her curiosity or imagination, and which would set off a series of ‘what if?’ kinds of phone conversations. Being in a creative mode with Meredith is one of the things I will miss most about our friendship.
I was drawn to Meredith the first time I heard her low voice and New York accent. Smart, funny, down-to-earth people like Meredith is the main reason why I left Los Angeles to come here.
Meredith was great at bringing people together, that’s why she was so good in Pro Arts and County Cultural affairs.
Annie and I, and Meredith and John, would see each other socially occasionally. We really liked each other, and we all always wanted to get together more often. But, for one reason or another, much to my regret, we never did. Meredith’s illness brought us very close to her, and to John and Morgan, their fabulous daughter, and we will not make the same mistake. John and Morgan will be a major part of our lives in the future.
My best memory is a day spent with her when they sent her home from the hospital in the hopes she could build up enough strength to handle the necessary future treatments. Sadly, it was her last good day, and we talked practically the whole time. We told stories of our childhood, talked about art and the art scene in the good-old-days in Jersey City, discussed what’s happening now in the art world, and of course we commiserated about her health issues and hopes. We did a lot of laughing in spite of her dire condition.
*Raven Williams is a student at Jersey City University and an intern for Pro Arts.