Creator of those teardrops on the bridge of his nose who taught art as a young man gets an O from his alma mater

Diagnosed with teardrops on the bridge of his nose last May, 47-year-old Lipp apparently was just sticking to his personal quirk.

“In my little neighborhood where we have a completely oblong mailbox, I have a sign that said, ‘Life is random,’ because I don’t have plans for my future,” Lipp said in an interview Thursday with the College of William and Mary, a Virginia public college.

Lipp was at William and Mary Wednesday, where he was honored at an art award ceremony on the campus and spoke about his unusual life in the arts. The college agreed to post Lipp’s creation to a large letter “O” outside of the Arts Center.

Lipp explained in the interview that his teardrops were caused by his odd childhood, which led to an early start on art.

“I had two brothers who were my age, and they were somewhat naughty,” Lipp said. “It was my job as a baby to go after them. A little mysterious how that worked, and so I followed their lead.

“I had no real artistic impulse, until my middle school year, when I was told I was, under very stern orders, to paint this, and I did. I fell in love with the brush,” he said.

Lipp said he always wanted to be an artist, as his “mama used to sew for a living.”

“Art was always this perfect escape for me, a way of being independent, and not allowed to join my church choir or get a boyfriend,” he said.

Since his death, his friends and family have suggested art outlets for the teardrops, and now Lipp’s gesture will benefit a good cause.

“Art should be able to withstand all obstacles and is always in need of encouragement. My campaign is aimed at raising money for scholarships that help young people fulfill their dreams,” Lipp said in a statement released by William and Mary on Thursday.

Along with marking the “O” for his “Sign of the Nude,” Lipp’s post also honors some close friends who perished from AIDS: Michael, Frank and Antonio.

Michael Lipp, age 20 and known to his friends as “Mush,” was killed in 1991 in San Francisco. Frank Schaffer, an HIV-positive artist, was known as “Art,” or “Archy,” and died from AIDS-related causes in 1991 in Miami. Antonio Brown, also a friend and an up-and-coming photographer, died of AIDS in 1987, his parents said in a statement they released about Lipp.

With in the news the Lipp obituary, his family created a legacy fund on GoFundMe, which has raised more than $7,000 for charity. As of Thursday afternoon, donations were coming in at a faster rate than expected.

The coins “are so much cooler than the fact that they’re very, very ornate, and they have a beautiful design,” Bill Wagner, the history professor who nominated Lipp for the award, said. “It really just adds to the story of his life, and his love of art.”

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