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Gary Lisz was an artist whose scope was multi-faceted. He worked professionally in many creative fields. His career began in fashion design, designing for two contemporary sportswear lines consecutively. His designer ready-to-wear line was carried in his own department within many of the nation’s most prominent department stores, including Bergdorf Goodman, Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and Neiman Marcus.
Eventually his design interests expanded into costume and set design for the theater. Some of his 25 theater credits include: Teeth N’ Smiles and Tie Up the Ballcock, New York City; A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Frankfurt; and A Couple of White Chicks, New York City, for which he was awarded the 1981 New York Critics Dramalogue Award for costume design. He designed the La MaMa production of Diamonds and Toads for cabaret singer Marleen Menard, as well as costumes for David Lawson’s short film for HBO, Cat and Mousse, which was invited to the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.
His credits for ballet and modern dance included: Vertigo and Bruised Knuckles for Helen Kent of The Murray Louis Dance Co; Biology 101 for Martine van Hamel and Kevin McKenzie of American Ballet Theatre, choreographed by Michael Kissler; and Emerge for the 1979 Spoleto Festival in Italy. He designed for Robert La Fosse, including Yesterdays in San Bernardino, California, and Woodland Sketches for New York City Ballet’s American Music Festival in the spring of 1988. They also collaborated on Lisz’s concept for a performance art/dance production of the classic myth Persephone in New York City in 1985. He also designed John Kelly’s production, Find My Way Home, at Dance Theatre Workshop, for which he was nominated for a Tony and a Bessie Award. As a costume assistant he worked on I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can for Paramount; Piaf at the Plymouth Theatre, New York; Sophisticated Ladies, Lunt Fontaine Theatre, New York; and the ABC Television production and the national touring company of The Elephant Man.
Lisz was also a painter. His works have been shown in New York City and Washington, D.C., and have entered many private collections here and abroad. His poetry was published in Bomb Magazine in 1986.
He was a graduate of Parson’s School of Design, Fashion Program, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C.
Lisz died in 1998 at the age of 44. At his death, he was a professor of design at Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology.