GEORGETOWN, Maine — Renowned Maine artist Dahlov Ipcar has died, her sons, Charles Ipcar of Richmond and Robert Ipcar of Brooklyn, New York, said in a statement Saturday afternoon on behalf of her family.
Ipcar was 99 years old when she died Friday, her sons said.
“Dahlov spent the morning as usual at her easel working on her latest painting; she fielded a few calls with her son, Bob, pertaining to a sit-down interview for a publication and worked with her son, Charlie, on a number of projects related to her upcoming exhibits,” they said.
“In the late afternoon she bid good day to her home health aide but early in the evening she phoned a family member [and said] that she wasn’t feeling well. She was still conscious when the emergency medical team arrived but then her heart gave out and she could not be revived,” her sons said.
“At the age of 99, she worked right up to the end, doing what she loved. We should all be so lucky — but it hurts just the same. May she forever be with the wondrous beasts of her imagination, a transcendental world that knows no beginning or end,” they said.
Ipcar was born in Windsor, Vermont, on Nov. 12, 1917, and was raised in Greenwich Village, New York City. Her parents, William and Marguerite Zorach were well known modern artists, with Marguerite Zorach’s work now included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Dahlov was raised surrounded by art.
She attended a number of progressive schools on scholarship, developing her art interests, and in 1939, at the age of 22, had her first retrospective show at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
Dahlov’s artwork has been featured in major museums nationwide and at numerous private exhibits. Much of her work can be seen on her Facebook page.
Dahlov wrote and illustrated more than 30 children’s books, including “The Cat at Night,” “Stripes and Spots,” Deep Sea Farm” and “Lobsterman.” She also wrote four fantasy novels, made three-dimensional cloth sculptures, and received numerous awards over her long life.
Ipcar moved to an extra farmhouse at her parents’ property in Maine in Georgetown in 1936 after marrying Adolph Ipcar. Dahlov Ipcar worked from a studio attached to a old farmhouse overlooking Robinhood Cove.
The Georgetown Historical Society was among the first to express condolences for Ipcar’s passing.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that Dahlov Zorach Ipcar died yesterday,” the society said Saturday morning in a post on its Facebook page.
“In addition to her tremendous contributions to the world of art and literature, she was brilliant, caring, and generous and a joy to be around. Her loss will be deeply felt by many because so many have benefitted from her remarkable time — nearly 100 years — on this earth. We extend our condolences to her sons and all her family,” the group wrote.
Despite failing vision because of macular degeneration, Ipcar had been painting as recently as Friday.
In a 2015 interview with the Bangor Daily News, Ipcar said she refused to let her poor eyesight keep her away from her easel.
“Everything is foggy. I get within an inch and a half of the canvas,” Ipcar said in the interview. “I don’t think I’d stop [painting]. Even if I can’t see anything, it makes me happy.”
She said at the time that she did not now why she had reached such a ripe old age.
“I thought I’d die at 80,” Ipcar said in the interview. “I’ve written instructions but thrown them away. I don’t know why I’m living so long.”
Dean Lunt is author and publisher of Islandport Press in Yarmouth, which published eight of her children’s books, four of her board books and three of her calendars in the past decade or so. Ipcar, he said Saturday, was a legend.
“She was remarkable. She was a remarkable woman, a remarkable artist, as close as you can get to a legend by sheer talent and sheer longevity,” Lunt said.
And more was in the works, he added. At the time of her death, Ipcar had some 100th birthday projects planned and was organizing a show of her illustrations coming up this fall at the Portland Public Library.
Lunt said that Ipcar was a rarity among artists.
“I think one of the most important things about her was that she was able to both be a fine artist … and simultaneously a creative children’s book illustrator,” he said. “It’s rare to see somebody be able to do both.”
While Ipcar didn’t get out much in her final years, Lunt said that when she did, the public response was almost overwhelming.
He recalled that at a book signing not too long ago at the Portland Museum of Art, her first in many years, Lunt and Ipcar figured they be there for two hours. After four hours — with lines still out the doors — the museum had to lock the doors.
“She’s going to leave quite a void,” Lunt said. “She’s’ the last of an amazing era of artists.”
Ipcar is survived by her sons, Robert Ipcar, his wife Jane Landis and their children and grandchildren, and her son Charles Ipcar and his wife Judy Barrows.
At Ipcar’s request there will be no funeral service, her sons said. Instead, a memorial service will be planned for this summer in Georgetown.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested how recently Ipcar had stopped painting. She had been working consistently and was in her studio painting on Friday a few hours before she died.