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Gabriel Mark Lipper on the future of art

Gabriel Mark Lipper is an Ashland-based artist whose work addresses, in his words, “the growing schism between self and other.”

He works predominantly in oil and makes paintings that are classical in nature. He has studied in Germany, Italy and Japan and has been shown at numerous galleries in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere on the West Coast, including at the Hanson Howard Gallery in Ashland and at the Elan Gallery in Jacksonville. His work is held in corporate collections that include Blackstone Audio in Ashland and the Harry and David permanent collection.

I touched base with Lipper to talk about his work and the conditions under which artists might flourish in a changing world.

JG: Tell us a bit about your artistic background and how it led to your current work?

GML: I tend to see the world deeply and vividly. This kind of seeing allows me the opportunity to share that experience with others through my art and through teaching. I’ve been drawing obsessively since I could hold a crayon. Growing up I had some great teachers, and eventually that learning encouraged me to chase my dream and further my artistic studies. After high school, I studied for two years with Semyon Bilmes, a classically trained Russian illustrator. He gave me a strong classical understanding of drawing and painting, which allowed me to begin my career as a painter.

JG: How has the current global health crisis affected you as an artist in terms of your work and process?

GML: Recently, I had the good fortune to work as one of the 4 to 5 instructors teaching a large international online arts program. Over the course of the last three years as an online coach, I’ve been able to work with almost 2,000 students. This form of coaching has reshaped the way I see my work and teach my students. I’ve taught small classes from my studio over the last 20 years, but quarantine has even forced my local art class online. The result is that I’m now preparing to launch a brand new online program called 8PAINT Infinite Arts.

JG: What do you feel is the best way for visual artists to find support from patrons and the world in general in the decade ahead?

GML: We’re all experiencing a paradigm shift. This combination of caution and technology appears to be both shrinking and expanding our world at the same time. As artists, the keys to the city have been placed in our hands. The cultural gatekeepers, galleries and museums that used to support us through exhibitions and shows, or marginalize our work, according to their tastes, have been rendered almost impotent overnight. If the public can no longer gather in these institutions, the cultural torch needs to be maintained by the artists themselves. I’m currently working with artists in Europe and all over this country in ways that, before this pandemic, many of us hadn’t even realized were possible. Quick off-the-cuff creative problem solving is taking center stage daily in this organic and ever-changing environment.

As the art world moves forward, I see the direct relationships between artists and collectors as the key to the evolution of art and culture. Our access to one another is almost infinite. My hope is that through these new trails we will emerge more aware of each other as individuals and creatives. Perhaps we will begin to learn to trust our own voices and tastes instead of seeking external approval for our creations and artistic collections.

Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a columnist, arts reviewer and cultural commentator. Email him at gillespie.jeffrey@gmail.com.

Painting is “Between Two Worlds,” mixed media on panel (c) the artist