Lisa Patt—1955-2019

Lisa and Stephen Patt in Venice. Photo courtesy of the Patt family

Many will remember Saturday, November 16, for the dramatic fire in the afternoon, and a huge noise and vision of yellow fixed-wing water tankers soaring close overhead to start the airdrops. That was the moment that my wife Lisa Patt left this earthly plain and departed for parts unknown. There was a brief but intense illness, and she fought it like the philosopher, artist, and warrior that she was, to the very last. No fear, eyes wide open.

Those who knew Lisa will remember her as a passionate artist, devoted wife, mother of two wonderful human beings, and a faithful friend. She started her life on October 7, 1955,  in Southern California, daughter of a bohemian artist, and a constantly shifting locale, from Santa Monica to Europe, to Berkeley, where she attended college.

I met her while she was teaching art in a tiny town in the Dominican Republic, San Pedro de Macoris, a place at once unforgettable for the ever-present smell from the local molasses factory and its beautiful beaches. We moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where I studied medicine and Lisa worked odd jobs to support us. She would come home smelling of spices, from her temp work at the McCormick factory, finally finding her home at the Tomlinson Gallery where she perfected the craft of framing. Our travels were constant, from Gainesville, Florida, for my residency, where she got pregnant with our first child, Ariel, thence to Fresno to finish training. We welcomed a feisty little girl into the world at the birthing center of Fresno, surrounded by Lisa’s mother, sister, Nicki, and moved out to the grape fields so I could deliver other babies and make a living. Throughout all of this, Lisa was an artist, photographer, painter, sculptor, devoting long hours to her work, which was strongly influenced by her travels to strange climes. Always on the move, we went to New York to study and raise a daughter. 

My life with her was constantly punctuated by her art: a glimpse of  a dead, tortured, twisted tree growing into the web of a fence lying by the side of a road in Long Island, required that I had to somehow rescue and steer into our tiny Subaru; journeys to Los Angeles, Westchester, and her continual education from Berkeley to Towson to Pratt Institute and, finally, her last stand, getting her PhD at CUNY. She made lifelong friends wherever we went, usually artists and writers, and she stayed a constant in their lives right up till the end.

Our son, Paris, was born in Culver City at, yes, another birthing center, and we finally settled in Topanga, with me building a family medicine practice and Lisa pouring her love and energy into a collective for artists, SITE, and thence onto the Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICI),  which still remains active in the art world. She taught Art History at Crossroads School, and mentored many young lives, teaching them a love for art and for the unseen in the world.

I will remember her forever, for her love of her family and friends, her fierce devotion to her art, her implacable sense of fairness, forever a Libra, and finally, for the dear and sweet companion she has been for the last forty-one years.

I hope this note sparks some tender memories among those who loved her, and for those who did not know her, a sense of wonder and ambition for the infinite drive that can propel us all forward in this precious short life.


  1. Beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing your life with Lise with us. She touched so many lives and helped make us better artists and people.

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