Above: Georgia artist William Entrekin’s watercolors line the wall by the child-proof dining table of lacquered grass cloth amid lighting by Yaakov Golan.
Livvy Lipson strikes a balance between the aesthetic and practical. She draws from the region while assembling from the globe. At the end of the day, her space is alive in a warm, calm and light way. Here in a multilevel Sandy Springs townhouse is evidence that small details can make a big impact.
Jaffe: What initially interested you in Georgia artists?
Lipson: When we arrived in 1976, we realized that we had very talented neighbors and friends. Who better to support? Yvonne Randall (“Stepping Stone”) was a highly regarded painter and sculptor; John Soulliere’s home studio was a few doors down. He worked magic in batik. Batik is a “resist” process for making designs on fabric. The artist uses wax to prevent dye from penetrating the cloth, leaving blank areas in the dyed fabric. The process is repeated to create complex, multicolored designs. John was my neighbor, and we went shopping at his house. We organized a show of his work to support the Walker School.
William Entrekin is the South’s Andrew Wyeth. … His paintings give me such happiness. … And finding Marietta’s Robert Meredith’s trompe l’oeil work was pure delight. His pieces are full of wit and whimsy. The “Raggedy Ann and Andy” is total Americana, and it is fun to look at and play with as it moves. I met Meredith in conjunction with fundraisers for the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.
Jaffe: Did you use an interior designer?
Lipson: I worked with Michael and Patti Corcoran from the onset. … They knew me well, and it was a good partnership. Michael drew the townhouse from its earliest stage — from the ground up — moving the rooms around to give me morning light at breakfast. Patti helped me incorporate old pieces I loved to update and renew.
I never saw myself as collecting, but I made purchases when I saw things that attracted me. After downsizing in 2009, I culled through my possessions, and luckily my children — both married with young families — were moving into houses, so collectibles and furniture found new homes. One of my requests when Michael was designing the townhouse was to give me as much wall space as possible, and it happily happened.
Jaffe: What’s the most unusual piece you have? Any sentimental family art?
Lipson: My mother brought this primitive folk art painting back from China in the ’80s. I like the watermelon theme. I think of watermelons as so Southern, and yet they are ubiquitous in China. My mom had a good eye and found my Peter Max “Moon Landing 1969” print in San Francisco. I learned he was Jewish, born in Berlin, moved to Shanghai in 1937, Israel in 1948, later Paris and then New York. My parents were of modest means, and our house was filled with prints including these two Diego Riveras.
My mom proffered good advice. She said: “To admire sculpture, circle 360 degrees. Oftentimes the back has the best view.” That speaks to Yvonne’s pieces.
Jaffe: Your late husband Robbie’s photography is so vivid; it mimics paintings.
Lipson: Robbie’s cameras came with us when we traveled with more lens cases and camera bags than luggage. During our trips to southern Africa, the Ukraine, and, closer to home, the Dale Chihulys at Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Gardens or the butterflies at Callaway Gardens, Robbie was always on a quest for the perfect image. His photographs are a vivid reminder to me of those times. He was CEO of WellStar, and his works are on permanent display at Kennesaw State University and Kennestone and Cobb General hospitals.
Jaffe: How do you use your kitchen and dining room to entertain?
Lipson: The lacquered grass-cloth table is very functional. … I am fortunate to have my children and grands close by, and the nine of us can all be together. I like contemporary neutral furniture. The kitchen has a light, fresh walnut look with minimal cabinetry. I added some personal touches, like locating the microwave below counter level and adding a walk-in pantry.
Jaffe: Your screened-in porch is comfortable this time of year.
Lipson: Moving from our family home adjacent to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park was emotional. My favorite part of our Marietta home was the screened-in porch. I really missed having a space that brought the outside in. I jumped through hoops to get the addition approved. This past Thanksgiving was balmy, so we enjoyed dinner for 19 in the screened porch with twinkle lights on the ceiling illuminating our table.
Jaffe: You work as a travel adviser — what are some of your favorite haunts?
Lipson: The exoticism of India, the wildness of southern Africa, or leave me in the art museums of Vienna. … I keep up with special art exhibitions that are taking place when my clients are in a particular destination. The weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal is really helpful, suggesting the bouquet show at the Dallas Museum of Art or the Van Goghs in Amsterdam. Before the huge Matisse show last year at MOMA, it was in London’s Tate Modern with no crowds. If I have learned one thing over the years, it’s that there is something special to discover wherever you go. … Just outside Hartford, Conn., the Hill-Stead Museum has matching Monet “Grain Stacks” that have never been seen outside of this once private home.
Jaffe: If you could wake up tomorrow with one new piece, what would it be?