Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

"Great stuff. Love your work."
Seymour Chwast

Search This Blog

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On my Doorstep

ON MY DOORSTEP I HAVE FOUND all sorts of things: a cat, freshly baked banana bread, flowers, dry cleaning and laundry, groceries, suitors and various parcels.

Imagine my surprise when I returned home recently and found two huge paintings (at left) I had done as a young artist propped up on either side of my front door, staring at me accusingly, imploring me to take them in. I hadn't seen or even thought about them for at least 30 years.

What was I up to at that time? They are large, colorful, acrylic paint-on-linen, figural paintings after Heinz Edelmann, the psychedelic pop artist who created the art for Yellow Submarine. One is an intricate tangle of a man, woman, bird and bicycle and the other is a sandy island in a rolling sea on a sunny day with sailboat, sunbather, umbrella, bubble-spewing whale and erupting mountain. Flying above, overseeing it all, is a large white bird.

Upon closer inspection I noticed decades of dirt and mystery spills on them. Both canvases were worn through to the stretchers at the corners, making them look even more like the abandoned orphans that indeed they were. I brought them into the house and immediately cleaned and restored them as well as I could..

As to what I was up to in my life, I had sold these two paintings, along with a triptych of girls, to a photographer friend, Benson, for his studio. This gave him what was at the time the largest collection of original Depingos in the world. I joked that I hoped he would take good care of my "children," especially "the girls." He replied that now that he had so many of my "children," he wanted me to start having his. He wasn't joking, either. I guess it was a proposal of sorts. I didn't mind his having my "children," but I didn't want to start having his, so we drifted apart.

Years later, when my daughter, Nicole, was going away to college, she saw photographs of "The Girls" that Benson had bought along with the two paintings shown here. She asked where "The Girls" were, because she loved them and wanted to use them to decorate her dorm room. Unfortunately, she couldn't. Very shortly thereafter, I ran into Benson, whom I hadn't seen for years, at an opening. Astoundingly, he whispered in my ear, "I think you want your girls back." I was stunned by the acuity of his mental telepathy because I had never said a word to him about them.. Of course, I said yes and Benson had them delivered to my apartment the next day. Nicole brought them to college, and later on to her first home. Today the girls hang in her office.

It's funny how paintings serve as visual memories of the phases of an artist's life. I don't know why Besnon returned these paintings after so many years. There was no note with them–just his card. I've tried to conjure up mystical reasons for the return but remain baffled. My only thought is that there are birds in both of the returned paintings and that Benson somehow gleaned from the preternatural ether surrounding us that I am having a solo show this year entitled Birds of a Feather. Maybe he thought they should flock together. Or, perhaps, more prosaically...

he is simply moving to a smaller studio.

Paint on,


  1. Is that where you found Mr. Depingo?

  2. Anonymous: Yes, and he can be found there sometimes even today, if he is unruly.

  3. Great Blog ! Love it ! It's always a lovely surprise, when someone does something, truly kind + thoughtful, without any strings attached. Let's wish him, some " Good Karma" in return.