Cherished Sonoma artist Lin Lipetz dies

Beloved artist, mentor, community member and mother, Lin Lipetz, died in her home Sunday, Jan. 5, after a recent illness. She was 85.

Born in Bozeman, Mont., in 1928, Lipetz was drawn to art at an early age. She went on to get a master of fine arts degree at the University of Washington in ceramics, textiles and painting. She also earned a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University in interior architecture.

“A loving mother,” Lipetz is survived by her son, Brad, and daughter Jan, as well as a niece and nephew. “Lin (Lipetz) was a true teacher to the end, leaving us with a guide to navigate our own spiritual universe,” Brad said, referencing Lipetz’s book “The Secret of Inner Presence.”

“To say she was an author, artist, instructor, realtor and interior architect is only scratching the surface to all who knew her …,” he said.

While living in Seattle, Lipetz founded and directed the University of Washington’s Factory of Visual Art.

She continued to foster her passion for art when she moved to Sonoma 33 years ago.

She served as a commissioner on the Cultural and Fine Arts Commission for the City of Sonoma and was an establishing member of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in the 1990s. SVMA Director Kate Eilertsen, who has known Lipetz for the last five years, said not only was Lipetz “ a great part of the museum from the very beginning,” but she was also a committed artist. “(Lipetz’s) commitment to art was an inspiration and sustaining,” Eilertsen said.

She was also a member of the Sonoma Community Center’s faculty, where she taught numerous painting classes. Bonnie Joy Kaslan, who was a student and friend of Lipetz for 13 years, credits Lipetz for inspiring her to become an artist, noting her mentor was there for every single student. “Art was always intimidating for me. … But Lin (Lipetz) had this unique ability to be so encouraging and be playful about teaching.”

Kaslan said she will treasure memories of art retreats with Lipetz and will miss the “twinkle in her eye.”

“For her students to carry on her legacy, we just have to keep showing up and keep on painting, make it a joyful experience,” she said.

In 2009, Lipetz was named the Sonoma Treasure Artist of the Year, selected not only for her contributions as an artist and teacher, but to the community as a whole. “She was guided by a big stripe of integrity,” longtime friend and fellow artist Doug Wilson said. “Her art was an inner journey for her and in her teaching she always gave students the view, ‘Whatever you do has to be your own inner journey to reach the soul and the spirit.’”

Wilson, who said he knew Lipetz best through an intimate dinner group, said she always dressed “like a million bucks.”

“What made her unique was she was always a curious person and did not hesitate to make choices – even courageous choices,” Wilson said.

Jackie Lee, a close friend of four years, who was with Lipetz and her family in her final week, said Lipetz was “a wonderful woman in so many ways.” She said Lipetz had a calmness about her that put others at ease and was also encouraging, making her a mentor for many students and a friend to all. Lee, who recalls many people calling her friend gracious and authentic, said, “She was everybody’s hero.”

A memorial will take place to honor Lin Lipetz at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St.

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