Tribute to Professor Mel Leipzig

Kicks off Fund for a Student Art Gallery at MCCC

5-1-09

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- Friends, students, colleagues and former students turned out in large numbers at Mercer County Community College’s Gallery April 29 to join in paying tribute to artist and long-time MCCC professor of art and art history, Mel Leipzig. The special event also kicked off a new fundraising drive for a student art gallery.

As part of the tribute to Professor Leipzig, a former student, photographer and staff member at MCCC, Mike Dill, presented a special gift to the college -- a framed photographic portrait of Professor Leipzig, and a collage made up of a combination of Dill’s photography and a line drawing by MCCC student Ryan Lawyer. Both prints will go on permanent display at the college’s West Windsor campus. Copies of the artwork are also available as donor gifts for those who contribute toward a new student art gallery, which is now in the planning stages.

According to MCCC President Patricia Donohue, the student art gallery will be a place dedicated to changing exhibits of student art, and where students can learn how to plan and curate exhibits.

Dill, who is director of facilities at the college, said he is very appreciative of what Professor Leipzig has taught him, especially about the appreciation of art, and he wanted to give something back to the college in Leipzig’s honor that would be a permanent testament.In brief remarks Leipzig said how honored he is to teach at MCCC. “Mercer has the best art department in the state," he said. “People ask me if today’s students are different from those 30 or 40 years ago. They are not, they are just as bright and committed, and very talented.”

Leipzig, a much-heralded painter, has garnered a multitude of awards and honors for his work. A participant in numerous one-man and group shows in the U.S. and abroad, his paintings are included in collections at the White House, the Whitney Museum, the Yale Art Gallery, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the Montclair Art Museum and the New Jersey State Museum, among others. Leipzig often depicts MCCC faculty, staff, students and locations in his realistic art.

Currently Leipzig is featured in two concurrent shows at the New Jersey State Museum entitled: Professor Leipzig’s “Selected Works” and “Artist as Curator,” which will run through September 6. For the latter exhibit, Leipzig has selected paintings from the museum's collection of American art. According to museum curator Margaret O'Reilly, "Through all of Mr. Leipzig's work is the extraordinary chronicle he has created of his life and the lives around him. It has become an expanding memoir of time, place and the characters that have been allowed to weave themselves into Leipzig's world."

Professor Mel Leipzig, left, holds his grandson while MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue, Director of Facilities Mike Dill, and art student Ryan Lawyer show Dill's photograph.
Mike Dill's portrait of Mel Leipzig.
Collage by Mike Dill and Ryan Lawyer.

Professor Leipzig earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Yale University School of Art and Architecture, and a three-year certificate from The Cooper Union. He was elected to membership in the prestigious National Academy. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, he also received a Fulbright Grant to Paris, three grants from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and a Certificate of Commendation from the State of New Jersey for contributions to the arts. He was the first faculty member at Mercer County Community College to receive the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

For questions about donating to the student art gallery and acquiring a copy of the Leipzig portrait or collage, contact Barbara at MCCC’s College Advancement Office at 609-570-3607 or email princeb@mccc.edu.

For more information about the current State Museum shows visit the museum website here.

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