by Travis Lassiter
March 1, 2018
Clark Hipolito lives the life most of us dream about. He rubs elbows with rock stars, athletes, and actors, owns a wine shop, and serves on multiple art committees. On top of all this, he still has the time to work with multiple charities and pop in to accept an award from the governor of North Carolina!
Clark was raised in South Jersey. At a young age, his Aunt Alice gifted him a Crayola 64 pack and a doodle pad at 5 years old. With a physician as a father, and a mother who was a nurse, school was of course a high priority, but he spent many days in class doodling and sketching. Clark attended Seton Hall for business, but realized this was not the path for him. After double majoring in business and art, he decided to set out for New York City. He applied to MTV, Spin, and Rolling Stone, and received offers from all three. MTV was in its heyday, and drew him in as an intern for on air graphics. On his first day, he met Iggy Pop. His second day, he was introduced to Henry Rollins, and he just couldn’t believe this was real. He was eventually hired on full time, and finally began to realize how his dream could become a career. In his true entrepreneurial spirit, he began painting backdrops for MTV Unplugged, murals, and everything else art related he could get his hands on. Every day was a new adventure, rubbing elbows with Kurt Cobain, Smashing Pumpkins, Run-DMC, and everyone else who was relevant at the time.
After five years in New York, he was ready to branch out and try a different environment. After spending some time in Charleston, SC, he ended up visiting Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street and was immediately entranced by the energy around him. Clark moved to Raleigh, and started work on Casalinga Italian restaurant. While painting their mural, he decided to give the restaurant an old world feel and filled the accent walls with plaster and faux finishes. This immediately caught the attention of the Parade of Homes, who enlisted his services since no one in the area was doing this type of work at the time. He quickly developed a reputation as a great faux finisher and muralist, and was commissioned by multiple owners in the Governor’s Club, Hope Valley, and others. His work ranged from painting murals on ceilings, fireplaces, range hoods, and of course clouds on ceilings. Things were really taking off.
In 2004, the Carolina Hurricanes moved their new organ into The RBC Center, and asked Clark to paint it as a test run. They were so impressed, that they commissioned him to create a large scale art installation during the 2004 NHL draft. As part of the installation, he was provided with equipment from NHL legends Wayne Gretsky, Mario Lemieux, and others. This equipment would be used as key elements in the art installation, which would be permanently mounted in the RBS center. During the draft, he even painted live using Eric Staal’s skates as palette knives! He has since worked on many more projects with the Hurricanes, including a 40 foot installation for the Canes Corner in the Hurricanes Hangout at Rex Hospital. Clark also completed a 100 foot mural on perforated metal on the roof top of the new Cardiovascular Center. his work with hospitals has also included a large installation at the UNC Hospital Hillsborough location and a light installation for the Duke Medical Center.
During this time, Clark also had art shows popping off in Manhattan. This drew the eye of the film industry, and his work was chosen to be used for the pilot of a new TV show - Sex and the City. He provided art for their first 3 seasons. His artwork was also noticed by Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, and he was featured on several shows including One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek. Clark had always been a surfer, and fit right into the Wilmington, NC scene. He found an old beat up surfboard, and decided to give it an old school feel. Stripping off duct tape and filling in all the dings and holes, he decided on a faux wood grain finish. On the beach, he constantly received compliments, and decided to do a series of boards to showcase at a popular downtown Wilmington restaurant, Deluxe. A silent auction was held, and he almost sold out the first night with boards selling as high as $5,000! Word got around and Clark was soon working on boards for Pink, and had David Duchovny and Demi Moore promoting his brand ArtCo Surf in their movie, The Joneses. One of his boards was even stolen out of Bill Murray’s house in the movie Zombieland. This rising star could not be stopped.
For his next metamorphosis, Clark began painting for Band Together, a NC based organization that uses live music as a platform for social change and charities. While painting live on stage, Michael Franti presented Clark with his acoustic guitar and asked if he could paint it. The only catch was that his next show was in two days at the Orange Peel in Asheville. Clark worked through the weekend and delivered the guitar to Franti just in time for the show. Clark continued to explore refinishing guitars, ukuleles, and even painted a tambourine last month for Robert Plant. After his work with Band Together, Clark realized he could have a huge impact on the lives of others and began working with Eliza Olander and the Triangle Wine Experience. After being the featured artist his first year, he became more entrenched in the event which benefits the Frankie Lemmon Foundation for children with disabilities. Clark continues raising funds and doing good (yes, like Superman) wherever he can. Last month, he was presented with an award from the governor for his work with these charities. Big dreams, and a big heart to boot!
I believe I also mentioned Clark owns a wine shop. All of this work with wine makers gave Clark the idea to open Wine on Main in downtown Clayton. As part of the growing outpost of the Triangle, he also decided they needed some art to go with their wine. He then joined the Public Arts Advisory Board as Chairman, and worked with other artists to import sculptures to line the streets and further develop the Clayton Sculpture Trail. Artists put their work on display yearly for patrons to enjoy and drive creativity in this growing community. The trail even includes an upcoming Veteran’s Memorial sculpture to commemorate our soldiers who served.
Clark Hipolito is the artist who never says no, and it has served him well. You will find his work throughout the state including locations such as the Lincoln Theatre, Walnut Creek,
Aloft (Brier Creek), Midway Airlines, and even a yacht for Doug Lebda, the founder of Lending Tree. You can also see his latest mural at the new Southbound restaurant in Charlotte,co-owned by NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. We are truly lucky to have such a talent with the drive and heart that Clark brings to North Carolina. I, for one, am excited to see what comes next.