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

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Colors Askew

So he started his period - Blue (1901-1904)
My painted bench is of manganese hue
The alizarin tube was through.

I painted it so I could rest
While working on my book
–and solo show–
Where the painting will go.
The curator declared the bench my best
(not crimson but blue)
Have a look.

To you
The colors may seem askew ...
But hey! When you're outta red
you use blue
Whatever else are you gonna do!


Paint on,

Friday, April 22, 2011


The ones with the polka dots are the hardest!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Shape of Things

A FRIEND OF MINE, ANOTHER PAINTER, recently criticized me for painting my subjects and models so irreverently. He said he noticed that I had a complete lack of concern for their meaning or function.

He's right. As a closet formalist, I concern myself primarily with form or shape.
I can rely on shapes. They maintain their integrity. A shape stays the same no matter how you look at it, or where it is placed. A word and its meaning can change but a shape stays the same. If I turn a painting upside down, the shapes will remain just as I painted them, even though inverted. But the word for the shapes will change drastically, thus transforming the meaning and function of the element.

First image:
I can demonstrate this In my painting Upsidedown Sky. In its normal configuration, the way I painted it, the sky is at the top of the canvas and also appears as a reflection in the swimming pool. The reflected sky actually has heightened color because of the turquoise paint on the walls of the (actual) pool. The pink rectangular shape bordering the pool is the above ground part of the pool–at least those are the words that describe it in this upright orientation.

As I paint, I rotate the canvas. This insures that the composition works from all four sides. When you turn Sky Blue upside down:

Second image:
The pink border of the pool is no longer a pool element, but becomes a skylight through which you see the water. But in this orientation the water is not water anymore, it is sky. The element that I originally painted as sky is now at the bottom of the canvas. This way it is no longer sky; it looks like and becomes a lake. In this painting, sky and water, two disparate words with different meanings, are fungible when inverted.
The shapes stay the same, but the words and functions for them change.

In addition, when viewed upside down, what used to be the distant background appears more like a reflection in the lake because it is now inverted. Similarly, the hanging vine when the painting is upright transforms into a shoot. Here again, the shapes stay the same but the words change. This is why I like shapes better than words, although ...

I love words when I "paint" with them in my essays.

Paint on,
Depingo (who is sometimes unsure which end is up)

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Cufflinks, Too?

that Uncle Sam
in his red, white and blue with stars.
He'll take all your money and then your shirt
For dinner you might even have to eat dirt
with no dessert!
Or the kind of Spam than comes in a can.

You'd be better off living on Mars–
with no cars
*Viewing the stars
from Mars*
But not Sam's.

Maybe you should
go on the lam
Get away from Sam!
I am.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Botanical Gardens, please.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I WAS PROBABLY THE ONLY SEVEN YEAR OLD surgeon's daughter who worked. I had a job breaking in ponies. And the amazing thing about this is that I never required my Dad's fracture-mending services. My horse sense told me that my equine job was the greatest ever. My parents never knew about it, so please don't tell them now.

Sam, the owner of the stable where I rode, continually acquired new horses and ponies. He usually bought them at auction. He preferred the wild horses for economic reasons–they were much cheaper than the trained ones. Of course that left him with horses that refused to be saddled or have a bit in their mouths which, of course, precluded bridles and reins. No matter, Sam really loved a bargain.

Breaking in the new horses was not a problem because Sam had several stable hands, all excellent riders. They were more than happy for the opportunity to break in the new arrivals. The ponies did present a problem, though, because the stable hands were too big for the tiny animals. The stable hands' legs were too long and would would drag on the ground while mounted. In addition, their weight was too much for the ponies.

One day when Sam was watching me jump my horse, you could almost see a light bulb go on over his head. Even though I was only seven, I was an experienced equestrian; I had been riding pretty much from the time I could walk. I handled horses well, had a good rapport with them, was light as a feather and had short legs. After a while, the light above Sam's head started flashing * Depingo * good rider * Depingo * light weight * Depingo *short legs* Depingo * break ponies*

I was delighted when Sam asked me to break in his ponies. My pay for this service was to be the right to name each pony I broke in. At age seven I thought this was a great deal. Sam explained that the breaking of a horse or pony is pretty straightforward, uncomplicated work. (He forgot to mention that it was also extremely dangerous.) My job was simply to stay on the pony's back, no matter what happened, until the pony submitted and acknowledged that the rider was the boss.

While breaking in the ponies I had to ride bareback and without reins because the ponies would not let the stable hands get close enough for saddling and bridling. If I were lucky, the pony would still have a loose rope lead around his neck for me to hold. If not, I would just hold onto the pony's thick mane.

I quickly learned that wild ponies will viciously and relentlessly do anything to get a rider off their back. They buck, rear, kick, bite, and jump in an effort to dismount their rider. At their sneakiest, they run close to a stone wall or tree, so that the rider's legs would be crushed or she would be scraped off if she did not jump off first.

Nothing to it. Just stay on the pony. How easy is that? I actually became pretty good at my job. One day, I was breaking in a beautiful chocolate-colored Welsh pony. By this time I was a seasoned pony breaker and quite used to their tricks. After some initial bucking and rearing, most of them ran wildly towards the jumps in hopes that I would slide off their back. This didn't faze me in the least because I was quite proficient at jumping.

This time, however, the brown beauty headed away from the jumps and sailed over the corral fence."No problem, Welshie, I'm still with you,"" I whispered in a soothing voice, trying to calm him. I admit I was a little nervous because I had no way to steer or stop him. Nor did I know where he was taking me. I hoped not into the Central Avenue traffic. Maybe I'm going to have to ride Welshie the whole 41-mile length of the Aqueduct from Croton to New York City before he submits. As it turned out, my pony had a far more treacherous idea than that.

In a variation of the standard leg-crushing trick, (or maybe because he just wanted to go home) my mount galloped fast and furiously toward the pony barn. The door of the barn was small and the jamb was just high enough to clear a pony's head. An adult would have to stoop to enter. And, of course, a rider would get knocked off by a full frontal collision with the barn wall above the door. I think the pony knew this and I certainly knew it. I was terrified for the first time in my pony-breaking career. I had a few seconds in which to decide if I would rather take the hit or jump off a pony galloping at full speed. I decided to jump. Then everything went black.

I came to lying on the sofa in the caretaker's cottage. The caretaker gave me a cup of tea and a plate of cookies. Sam and the stable hands were there with me. They all cheered and applauded when I opened my eyes. After I finished my tea, Sam asked me to get up and walk around. I guess he wanted to make sure I still could. Sam was so nice that although I had failed to break in the feisty Welsh, he told me that I still got to name him. I named him Devil's Food Cake because of his rich chocolate coloring. Sam even gave me a ride home that day so I didn't have to walk. Devil's Food Cake eventually got broken in (not by me), became sweet and well behaved and was a favorite of all the young riders. Everyone called him Devil for short.

My pony breaking career came to an end after my failed attempt with Devil. Sam apparently decided that the work was too dangerous for a seven year old and hired someone else for the job. My successor was a retired professional jockey. I still got to name the new ponies, though, and I returned to ride at the stable every afternoon after school ...

wild horses couldn't keep me away.

Paint on,