Rose Lipke, Coz Art- A Special Treasure In Cortez, Florida
Rose Lipke has a truly diverse and unique skill set. Born and raised in the small fishing village of Cortez, Florida, at the age of 12 she fished and crabbed commercially after school and during summers, learned the art of wooden boat building, and became an activist to conserve and preserve the environment and the traditional maritime way of life.
Rose has worked as a freelance artist since the age of 16, creating thousands of signs and logos for local businesses, original paintings and sculptures. A majority of her clientele comes mostly by word of mouth, as well as participating in art shows and coastal festivals throughout the state of Florida. In 2001 she went to work as the Lead Scenic Artist for Feld Entertainment, the largest privately held Production company in the United States. During her ten years there, Rose oversaw the fabrication of countless Disney on Ice shows, Disney Live stage shows, and Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus productions. She is still occasionally called back to Feld for special projects.
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H) Rose is responsible for organizing the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, which has drawn upwards of 20,000 annually to this tiny community for almost 35 years. In addition to her work with F.I.S.H., the intentionally much smaller Cortez Stone Crab Festival, is organized by Rose and a handful of other local sponsors featuring only local artists, local bands and local seafood. In just 4 years the attendance at this festival has swelled from 2,500 to 9,000.
Rose also serves on several other conservation and activist boards, including Fishing for Freedom, an organization that serves as an educational and advocacy tool to preserve the commercial fishery and surrounding environmentally sensitive waterways statewide and serves as Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Manatee County.
Rose shared some other information with me! She started selling hand painted sand dollars outside the Seafood Shack restaurant in Cortez during season. Having worked freelance her entire adult life (with the exception of her 10 years at Feld) she feels very blessed to have been able to raise her daughters with little more than a paint brush doing what I love.
A sign painter by trade, which in itself is a dying art in itself, she works in all mediums (illustration painting carving mosaic oils clay and mixed media) she gets bored easy. “I’ll pretty much build and/or paint anything I’m asked to, from basic furniture to 25’ hammerhead sharks to wedding cake toppers made of fish hooks (I have created all these) haven’t had a request I couldn’t pull off yet.” Her main focus is signs, murals, paintings on wood and more recently mosaics on unusual items. Her favorite and most common art is painting on reclaimed wood. Every piece of wood reacts differently so the wood dictates to you how it wants to be painted. She loves that!
In the near, future she hopes to start offering small workshops in her studio to help people create a variety of projects. She also takes on “real work” from time to time, mainly boat painting and Brightwork (varnishing teak and wood), it keeps her skills honed and keeps her humble at the same time. All of her work both artistically and otherwise is heavily tied to her roots in Cortez, it’s all intertwined to her!
all photos by Rose Lipke, Coz Art