Chiplis reading from his Mikulov, Czech Republic journal 2004- foto by Smith

Our long-time friend, frequent benefactor, and fellow artist Jeff Chiplis was shot twice late Friday night by two robbers while walking home from a concert at Pat’s in the Flats.

First we heard via FaceBook he was stabbed. Then we read in the press he was shot in the head. Finally found out once we went to the hospital he was shot twice. Witnesses said he tried to get away and the robbers shot him once sideways through the front of the abdomen and once in the leg.

He couldn’t talk when we visited Saturday because his mouth is blocked with the ventilator, but he opened an eye when we came in and gave us a thumbs up so he’s lucid and aware. The docs think they’ve fixed the damage so he’s been upgraded to critically stable.

This is from his friend ceramic artist Angelica Pozo’s FaceBook site yesterday: “Jeff has had one surgery from which he came through very well, good vitals. No major organs were hit. Perforated intestines, colon and an artery. He has a second surgery scheduled for tomorrow to finish repair. Sometime after which he can come off of the ventilator.”

Jeff is the reason I moved to the Tremont area back in 1985. And when Lady and I sold our place in 2006, he let us stay in his small two-room love shack out back of his place for 6 weeks. When we came back in 2007 on our way to Mexico he hosted us in the love shack for another 12 weeks, and when we moved back to the states in 2009, we stayed there another four weeks.

Chiplis is in the rare and very small class of “the nicest people I know” — he has more close, good, genuine friends than anyone I’ve ever met – probably in the hundreds, and from all around the world, especially since he hosts the international visiting artists who have residencies at Spaces gallery. Always available to help others, always smiling, just the nicest guy — the last person one would think a fair universe would damage. But then, this isn’t a fair universe, is it.

Jeff was the first guest artist I added to my art/poetry website in 2003. Here’s his current show of found-neon sculpture at the Butler Institute of American Art.

Jeff also collects carrot bags and paraphernalia and is known worldwide as the Carrot King.

This is hard on all of us of course but the pain he’s going through, the damage to his life, and the unimaginable agony his wife Cynthia is experiencing is impossible to fathom.

One important note – all the news articles keep saying he was shot attending the monthly Tremont Art Walk. NOT TRUE – he was shot three hours later while returning from a music concert. This was way after the Art Walk was concluded and a good distance away in a dark and isolated area.

News links to his shooting:,0,5500970.story

Chiplis reading from his Mikulov, Czech Republic journal 2004 – foto by Smith

7 Responses

  1. Thanks for this… I did not put all the buttons in a row about Jeff. Didn’t know he was the artist friend who you stayed with before and that you had known him for so long.

    I knew he was the one who did the Neon exhibit… but the rest I’d heard and nor related to him. So this puts things in a wider perspective for me.

    Life is strange.. hard to put any useful meaning to events like this. I always feel things happen for a reason.. but with something like this I feel it throws that theory out the window.

  2. SB: You & Jeff were two people who upon first meeting made me feel instantly comfortable. Nothing was taken from Jeff, this only adds to his legend. Wishing him the best & a speedy recovery. I still need to hear him play the portative organ!

  3. Thank you so much for this update. I’ve been thinking about Jeff and his condition, every minute since I heard about this. I’m so sad, and so extremely pissed off at the same time. Jeff is such a Sweet Man, which only pisses me off more that it happened to him. We all wish you well Jeff, and we hope to see you real soon!!!!!!

  4. Smith,
    Thanks for posting this, I’ve known Jeff for 30 years and one word always comes to mind when I think of him “gentle man”.

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