LAAC gives artist, 92, her 1st public show

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For nearly six decades, Ethel Kipnes has created works of art, watching her creations span oceans and stacking them from floor to ceiling.

First aid came in the form Kipnes’ daughter, famed fashion designer and now author Vicky Teel, and then, the canvassed works that showed her expansive talent.

Ethel Kipnes, pictured with her daughter, Vicky Teel, poses with one of her many pieces.      Courtesy photo

Ethel Kipnes, pictured with her daughter, Vicky Teel, poses with one of her many pieces. Courtesy photo

Now, one can see those pieces through the end of October at LAAC in Andalusia, said Sheila Rhea.

“Ethel’s work spans nearly 60 years,” Rhea said. “And from her biography, one can tell that why someone who has led such a diverse life can create such fantastic pieces.”

Kipnes was born in Hudson, N.Y., and she had big dreams to become a fashion designer in New York. World War II put an end to her fashion dreams, and she moved to Washington to work as a secretary for the war department.

It was after her second marriage that Kipnes followed through with her artistic dreams, graduating from the fine arts school at American University in 1956. It was then she began a 55-year career of painting in oil and sketching in pen and ink, in large notebooks as she traveled the world with her husband.

In 1975, Kipnes had a one-woman art show in the Avanti Gallery in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Teel said the sellout success was enough for her mother to continue to believe in her gifts and to continue oil painting.

“Her paintings were mostly figures, often on very large canvas, and yet she never had another show, as her paintings were her babies,” Teel said. “She could not part with a single one. Every few years she would fly to France to visit me, and we would paint side-by-side” in the converted grenier of Teel’s 16th century mill house near Giverny.

During the next two decades, Kipnes was inspired by Monet, Matisse and Bonnard, Teel said.

“It was so amazing to watch her canvases change with their broad strokes and more vibrant colors that were inspired by the French Fauve movement,” Teel said. “Her previous darker oil paintings of the 50s had evolved into bright earthen tones by the 80s as she grew in confidence and happiness from her years in France, close to the homes of her idols.”

Today, at 92, Kipnes still sketches in pencil and lives with her daughter in Northwest Florida.

A variety of pieces are on display and available for purchase at the LAAC. A reception to close Kipnes’ show will be held on Oct. 27 from 1:30 p.m. until 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend.