Image: Brandon Ballengée, Motel for Insects, 2012, Smithsonian National Zoo
ecoartspace would like to honor and express sincere gratitude for Amy Lipton and her sustained efforts over the last two decades, working with artists on behalf of nature. Through her curatorial practice, she helped make visible to the larger public the unique artistic approaches in the fields of environmental art, ecological art, art for nature, enabling them to flourish, as such innovative practices gained traction across the globe. The art and ecology community will be forever grateful for her pioneering contributions.
Amy Lipton (1956-2020)
Amy Lipton, gallery director, curator and ecoart pioneer based in New York’s Hudson Valley, passed away on Sunday, December 6, 2020 due to complications from ovarian cancer. She was laid to rest two days later in the Riverview Natural Burial Grounds at the historic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. During her career as a curator, Lipton organized dozens of exhibitions and programs, gave lectures and participated on panels, and worked with hundreds of artists engaging ecological issues.
From 1986-1990, Lipton was co-owner and co-director with Barbara Broughel of Loughelton, the pioneering East Village gallery where Mel Chin had his first New York solo exhibition, “The Operation of the Sun through the Cult of the Hand” (1987). She next owned Amy Lipton Gallery on Prince Street at Crosby in Soho, which evolved into Lipton Owens Gallery through 1995. In 1999, Lipton was introduced to Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace, through independent curator and former Los Angeles gallerist Sue Spaid. Lipton was preparing to travel to Aachen, Germany to install art works for her good friend and artist Chrysanne Stathacos in the exhibition “Natural Realities: Artistic Positions Between Nature and Culture,” curated by Heike Strelow based in Frankfurt. Lipton invited Watts to join her in Aachen for the opening reception in June where they met for the first time in person. The exhibition featured artworks by Robert Smithson, Helen and Newton Harrison, Mel Chin, Ana Mendieta, Ulrike Arnold, Eve Andree Laramée, hermann de vries, Mark Dion, Henrik Håkanson and more. It was an important gathering of like minded artists and curators who all shared a deep interest in the relationships between art and nature. Lipton and Watts each had young children at the time and were keen to work with artists addressing environmental issues, primarily for the sake of their children’s future. They decided to partner as a bicoastal curatorial team and in 1999, applied for nonprofit status under the umbrella of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE) in Los Angeles.
In 1999, Sue Spaid and Amy Lipton coined the term ecovention (ecology+invention) to describe artist-initiated projects that employ inventive strategies to physically transform ecosystems. In 2002, Lipton and Spaid co-curated “Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies” for the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, an exhibition that included artworks by AMD&Art (Stacy Levy), Brandon Ballengée, Betty Beaumont, Joseph Beuys, Jackie Brookner, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Mel Chin, Betsy Damon, Agnes Denes, Georg Dietzler, Tera Galanti, Hans Haacke, Harrison Studio, Lynne Hull, Basia Irland, Patricia Johanson, Laurie Lundquist, Kathryn Miller, Nine Nile Run Greenway Project (Reiko Goto and Tim Collins), Viet Ngo, Ocean Earth, Aviva Rahmani, Buster Simpson, Robert Smithson, Alan Sonfist, George Steinmann, Susan Leibovitz Steinman, Superflex, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Shai Zakai. International in scope, the exhibition and its accompanying catalog (the first online for free) aimed to show that despite artists’ practical goals, their artworks remained open-ended in scope. For the artists ideas to come alive, five of them were commissioned to produce new ecoventions, six others produced in situ ecoventions, and Jackie Brookner worked with the Mill Creek Restoration Project to create Laughing Brook (2002-2009/present), a permanent ecovention in Cincinnati.
Select exhibitions which Lipton curated after 2002:
Imaging the River, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY
Alexis Rockman: Human/Nature and the Environment, Carriage House Center, NY
It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine), Ramapo College Art Galleries, Mahwah, NJ
Nuturing Nature: Artists Engage the Environment, Concordia College, Bronxville, NY
Beyond the Horizon at Deutsche Bank on Wall Stree, NY
Down to Earth: Artists Create Edible Landscapes, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia, PA
Silent Migration: Brandon Ballengée, Central Park Arsenal Gallery for Human/Nature: Art and the Environment Series, Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, NY
E.P.A. (Environmental Performance Actions), Exit Art, NY (curated with Watts)
Into the Trees, The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center, Ghent, NY
Out of the Blue, Bergen College, Paramus, NJ
BioDiverCITY for 5x5 Project in Washington D.C. presented by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in 2012
TRANSported for the New Museum's Ideas City Festival and Arts Brookfield at the World Financial Center Plaza and at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City.
FOODshed: Agriculture and Art in Action, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY
Tipping Points: Artists Address the Climate Crisis, Bergen College, NJ
In 2016, Lipton with Jennifer McGregor co-curated the exhibition “Jackie Brookner: Of Nature,” a retrospective of the artist’s work at Wave Hill in the Bronx. Brookner (1945-2015) was a good friend and mentor to Lipton, and Lipton was an impassioned proponent of the artist's work whose focus was healing, whether purifying air, water or memories. Adamant that science matters, Brookner stressed the importance of scientists evaluating the efficacy of her projects, which left a lasting impression on Lipton.
Amy Lipton was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from California Institute of the Arts in 1980 with a BFA in Art and Design and worked as an art director for the publication WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing founded by Leonard Koren before moving to Manhattan, New York in 1982. In 2001, after many years working as a gallery owner and director, and two days before 9/11, Lipton moved with her family upstate to Garrison. She commuted for a few years while staff curator at Abington Art Center and Sculpture Park in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and for a couple years while director at Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, New York. Lipton lived in the Hudson Valley for almost twenty years and was married to composer and musician Ben Neill. Their daughter, Kadence Luella Neill, lives and works in New York City.
Additional artists with whom Lipton worked include (not a complete list): Lillian Ball, Joan Bankemper, Vaughn Bell, Dove Bradshaw, Michele Brody, Jackie Brookner, Diane Burko, Nancy Cohen, Xavier Cortada, Elizabeth Demaray, Steffi Domike, Simon Draper, Leila Nadir + Cary Peppermint (EcoArtTech), Peter Edlund, Fredericka Foster, Matthew Friday, Futurefarmers, Joy Garnett, Fritz Haeg, Ruth Hardinger, Kimberly Hart, Susan Hoenig, Katie Holten, Natalie Jeremijenko, Patricia Johanson, Nina Katchadourian, Eve Andree Laramée, Rapid Response, Robin Lasser, Stacy Levy, Lenore Malen, Mary Mattingly, Sarah McCoubrey, Maria Michails, Alan Michelson, Jason Middlebrook, Kristyna and Marek Milde, Patricia Miranda, Eve Mosher, Itty Neuhaus, Lucy and Jorge Orta, Joan Perlman, Michael Pestel, Andrea Polli, Andrea Reynosa, Alexis Rockman, Ann Rosenthal, David Rothenberg, Christy Rupp, John Sabraw, Carolee Schneemann, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Steven Siegel, Brooke Singer, Rebecca Smith, Jenna Spevak, Roy Staab, Tattfoo Tan, Joel Tauber, Sarah Trigg, Linda Weintraub, Marion Wilson, Elaine Tin Yo and Andrea Zittel.
You are invited to leave comments below in her memory: