Raymond Sipos – "Sheltered Cove & California Desert"


Sheltered Cove – 1989
Raymond Sipos, (Michigan and California 1939 – ), Sheltered Cove (1989), Acrylic on Plexiglas, 20″ x 30″

    Yeah, I know. Wallpaper. I always thank my parents for exposing me to art by the occasional purchase of an oil painting by a local artist and the presence of all kinds of art books around the house when I was growing up, but I swore I’d never invest my time and money on the same mundane landscape scenes and wrought iron rooster sculptures that decorated our wood-paneled 1950′s living room walls. But there comes a time when, after cultivating a great interest in abstract art and its many incarnations through museums, art galleries, books and documentaries, the return to a sublime landscape now and then to relax our senses and prepare them to once again embark on that strange and wonderful genre is a welcome repose.

I was first introduced to the work of Raymond Sipos in 1989 when I lived in Laguna Hills, California. Nearby, squeezed in-between a commercial printer and a machine shop in a dense industrial complex was a small art gallery named, “Gallery of Arts.” I came to find the folks that ran the gallery were of Greek heritage, and so was the bulk of their stock, except for a sizable collection of original Erté prints. Although I did show an interest in their stable of local Greek artists, they were really pushing the Ertés suggesting the ole’ boy was about to kick off (and they were right) and an investment in his work today would be worth many times more in the near future. But as hard as I tried to like his work, those gaudy, metallic designs reminded me too much of the film costumes for which he was brought to Hollywood by Louis B. Mayer in 1925, and did nothing for me at that time. If I looked at art strictly as an investment I would have gobbled-up every Erte they had. But I don’t, and I can honestly say I haven’t purchased a piece of art with the intention of making a profit because, like most, its about how the piece grabbed my attention in the first place and won my desire to own it rather than unloading it later on for a gain.

I then brought their attention to a very realistic original landscape that I couldn’t turn away from by a local artist I’d never heard of–Raymond Sipos. His brush strokes seem to illuminate from what I thought was canvas to create a light of their own. A beautiful panorama of color and subtle highlights reminded me so much of the California coastline I had been in love with all of my life. I could almost feel the brisk offshore wind blowing off the misty caps of the curling waves breaking towards the sandy beach, and that rarest of ice plant nestled on top a foreground of craggy rock, a local treasure not to be disturbed. This painting, as simple and sublime as it was, captured a corner of my heart and told me if I wanted a little secret place to escape to now and then, this was it.

I inquired if Mister Sipos had other paintings available and after a brief phone call I was asked to return the following Saturday when his agent would show some of his other available works and I was given his current catalog to ponder.


And ponder I did. Among the quaint meadow and marsh scenery, the towering Golden State Bridge seen from a remote side of the San Francisco Bay, and numerous dramatic seascapes was a series of desert settings pictured near the end of his portfolio. One in particular caught my eye as another reminder of those places I always looked forward to visiting, and the high desert is one of them. Many years back we would load up the car and head out to Lucerne or Apple Valley for a weekend of R & R. We normally did this in the fall just when the rainy season started and the temperatures went below a hundred degrees. At night we would watch the skyline dissolve into layers of pastel colors giving way to a bright blue/black sky. Sometimes we’d catch a sparkling meteor shower while laying on the roof of our cars sipping wine or enjoying one of the delicacies a chef friend thoughtfully brought along. In the morning we’d wake to a revitalized landscape, and the smell of damp vegetation and smoke from a wood fired stove emanating from a distant chimney, just like this one–

California Desert – 1989
Raymond Sipos, (Michigan and California 1939 – ), California Desert (1989), Acrylic on Plexiglas, 20″ x 30″.
This picture brought back all those sensations and when I saw it in-person, it became another must-have. Both of these works measure 20 x 30 inches, unframed, and are painted, interestingly enough, on Plexiglas. I’ve seen fine art done on almost countless medium but this was my first exposure to oil painting on plastic. Sipos uses a very thick and optically clear Plexiglas as his canvas and paints them with acrylic paint. The Plexiglas canvas allows him to achieve an almost glowing quality in his paintings as evidenced by his luminous skies and flowing water highlights. And his coloring can only be described as sumptuous. This was art that was simply pleasing to the eye, and my eyes just can’t get enough of it. As a landscape it doesn’t really have anything profound to say, other than what they all should say– “Don’t you wish YOU were here?”

During my investigation into Sipos I found out quite a few interesting facts about the man and his work. About the time of my purchase (1989) he was experimenting with a new printing process he was developing for reproducing his art, with a personal touch. He wanted to retain that luminous quality of Plexiglas in his reproductions so he developed a mechanized process of printing directly onto the plastic then touching up the highlights and other details by hand. This reduced the price of his original works by more than half and I was very interested in the results. It was an involved and labor intensive process but at close inspection the colors looked washed out and the details blurred. I resisted the temptation to purchase these reproductions hoping that the process would later be perfected but I believe the project was soon afterwards abandoned for quality reasons.

Here’s an excerpt from his bio:
“Ray Sipos, who is descended from a family of Hungarian musicians and artists, began his formal art career in a most unusual way, working as a mechanic and engineer at Cal Tech’s world-renowned Jet Propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California. Participating in an employee art show, he exhibited his paintings and sold out! With such encouragement, although he had just begun his career in engineering, he opted to develop his artistic talents instead. Such a mix of science and art was nothing new in Sipos’ life. He was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1939 and as a teenager, moved to Southern California where he attended California Polytechnic State College. While earning an engineering degree, he couldn’t resist also enrolling in painting classes. Studying with New England artist Benjamin McGrath, Sipos became a keen observer of nature. He learned to recreate the special light and atmosphere unique to California. But Sipos also began to follow his own path of exploration, thinking as a trained scientist as well as an inspired artist.”
I now see Raymond Sipos posters and prints in Wal-Mart, stationary stores and boutiques, but he seems to be leaning toward the fantastic in his current landscape renditions. Although the above two originals I purchased are more subtle in composition, the perspectives and skies are a bit dramatized and the colors enhanced, but they remain very enjoyable works none the less.

The Gallery of Arts was a nice find, and so close to home, but they have long gone by the wayside trying to provide a little culture to a tiny, bedroom community more concerned about how they look rather than how they look at things.

I purchased two original oils by Sipos from the Gallery of Arts that day, as well as one by another artist named Manos, but that’s another story.

Mike-

6 comments:

  1. "Sheltered Cove" is truly marvellous. I got the real feel of the shore water. The details portary of dessert is yet another a masterpiece. Nice work.

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  2. This is one of the most exemplary work of Raymond I have ever seen. This art explains why he is counted in a different category. Impressive use of color clearly distinguishes this piece of art.

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  3. I have 2 sipos paintings 9x12 the frames have a number marked f1020 and f 1021 the back of the painting has cp8018 and cp8013 one is a desert stream with snowy peak and the other is what looks like a laguna beach sea scape they appear to be orignals I would love to be able to know the names of the two paintings any suggestions thanks boater18@aol.com

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  4. If you could send me a snapshot of your paintings I'll check the Sipos catalog I have and at least give you the numbering assigned to his paintings. From there you could contact him at his website (http://raymondsipos.blogspot.com).

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  5. I received your images of the two Sipos paintings and have responded here.

    Regards-

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