Arlington Arts Hosts an Artist Talk with Donald Lipski

By Editorial Team on September 11, 2017
Photo courtesy of Arlington Arts.
Artist’s Talk: Monday, September 18 at 7pm

A towering 60’ tall public art work entitled The Pike is planned to herald the entrance to Arlington along the Columbia Pike corridor, one of the region’s most diverse communities. Acclaimed artist Donald Lipski will discuss his creative process in creating public art work in an Artist Talk moderated by Arlington County Board Member Christian Dorsey, on Monday, September 18, 2017, at the Columbia Pike Branch Library, 816 S. Walter Reed Drive, in Arlington, Virginia. The event is free and open to the public.

During the conversation with Board Member Doresy, Donald Lipski will detail his artistic process and highlight the influences that shape his body of work, including this latest piece for Arlington. The artist’s work is in the permanent collection of the Walter E. Washington Convention and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “For the Western entrance into Arlington on Columbia Pike, I look to history, to the present and into the future.”, says Lipski. “I have tried to create a strong sense of place as one drives past… and give a special surprise treat to the pedestrian or cyclist.” The Brookings Institution refers to Columbia Pike as “The world in a zip code”. Within that zip code, largely falling under 22204, there are over 60 languages spoken and 130 nationalities represented. That diversity is not a recent phenomenon. “The Columbia Pike started out as an Indian trail, and gradually developed into the Columbia Turnpike Road,” notes Lipski, “mandated by an act of Congress to connect the young Capitol City to the nation to the west.”

Historically, a turnpike gets its name from an ancient, spear-like pike which was held as a barrier to traffic, and would then be turned to allow passage after collecting a toll. Thus, Lipski created The Pike as a single blade of a decommissioned wind turbine, 50’ in length. It will sit vertically on a 10’ high base that gracefully curves to the ground, making for a towering 60’ tall sculpture.

The base will be completely covered in a mosaic of coins which will spread out and disperse as they ascend the sculpture. “The coins (collected from the surrounding community) will not only remind one of the tolls once collected on the Turnpike, but will also reflect the diversity and ethic richness of the people who live [along Columbia Pike],” notes Lipski.

Artist Talk by Donald Lipski
Donald Lipski was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1947, the son and grandson of bicycle dealers. A history major and anti-war activist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Lipski earned a B.A. in American History in 1970. Already a budding sculptor, Lipski discovered ceramics while working with ceramics legend Don Reitz. He then pursued an MFA in ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1973, where he studied with Richard DeVore and Michael Hall. Lipski taught at the University of Oklahoma from 1973 to 1977, when he moved to New York and where he gained recognition with his installation Gathering Dust, first at New York’s Artists Space in 1978, and months later at The Museum of Modern Art as part of their Projects series. A three-time National Endowment for the Arts grantee, Lipski became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1988, was honored by awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1993, The Rome Prize of The American Academy in Rome in 2000, and Cranbrook’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013.

His work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the former Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Menil Collection and dozens of other museums. Lipski’s installation works continued in the 1990s with The Bells at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, The Starry Night at Capp Street Project, San Francisco, Pieces of String Too Short to Save in the Grand Lobby of The Brooklyn Museum and The Cauldron at the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York. In recent years, Lipski has focused his efforts on creating large-scale works for public spaces. Some of his most recognizable works include The Yearling outside the Denver Public Library (originally exhibited by The Public Art Fund at Doris Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York, 1997), Sirshasana hanging in the Grand Central Market, Grand Central Terminal in New York City, and F.I.S.H. at the San Antonio River Walk, in Texas. There are twenty some others across the U.S. Lipski lives and works in New York City.

The talk is scheduled at Columbia Pike Branch Library at 816 S. Walter Reed Dr., Arlington, VA. For more information, call (703) 228-1850 or visit