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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Sunday, April 10, 2022

Andy Warhol, Art and Shopping

Andy Warhol and I have two things in common. One: we are both artists -- even though he is one of the most important artists of the 20th Century -- and I am merely a for-hire 20th-21st century artist who loves her work illustrating, cartooning, and painting. Two: He loved shopping and so do I. I was always ashamed that I loved shopping so much and kept it a dark secret until I read that Andy did too. Then I was proud that I had the same passion for it as an art icon. I tried to analyze why artists would love shopping so much. There is the facile answer to this: When one goes shopping she is surrounded by space, shiny, bright and muted colors, patterns, shapes and lines of all sizes and dazzling light. All the things we artists love. I, personally, carry all those images around with me. The next time I am drawing or painting this melange comes flowing out and I utilize it in the process of creation. If I had a better grasp on the philosophy of the great art critics, e.g. Arthur Danto and Walter Benjamin (I painted more than read while in school -- sorry Cora Cohen if you happen to be reading this) I would be able to explain this next less obvious answer more tidily. Anyway, here's my try: When you make a work of art, it doesn't belong to you. It was yours while you were working on it, but if it reaches the status of a "work," you don't own it anymore. It is an entity unto itself, incapable of being owned. Even if you buy it, it doesn't really belong to you, nor does it belong to any gallery or museum. That is why some artists don't sign their paintings on the front of their canvas, as initiated by Moholy-Nagy. In addition to the signature implying ownership, it distracts from the "work." (I stopped when my NYU classmates laughed hysterically every time they saw my signature on my work.). If artists can't even own their own work, they are going to want to own something. It is only natural ... so we go shopping. Andy bought so much stuff, he had hundreds of unopened boxes still in shopping bags piled all over the place. I at least open mine. Oh, excuse me ... I have to go shopping.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Severed Cords


Severed Cords, pen and ink on paper, 8 x 11 inches























HI MOM,

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY.  I actually liked it better before the umbilical and telephonic cords were cut. Nonetheless, I hope you are having a heavenly day in heaven. Probably all the days there are heavenly, so what do you call it when it is a special day? Earthly?  I would love to know, but unfortunately we never get to talk anymore what with you in heaven and me on earth.

With all of the new technology, I can't believe I can talk to someone in Mozambique on Facebook, which is thrilling in it's own way, but I cannot talk to my Mom! I'm amazed that some brilliant astrophysicist has not yet figured out how to enable us to talk to those we love after they leave the planet.  After all, we (or at least those of us who are old enough) have watched astronauts walk on the moon.  We saw them take one small step for man in boots so unattractive it made me cringe.

What about doing this for mankind? Let the people who are missing their mothers talk to them. I think that would be a worthwhile scientific endeavor.  I would rather spend money for that than to watch one small step in some majorly ugly boots. Which one would you vote for? I know my vote is going for talking to my Mother.  Her name was Babe Bisgood and she was more interesting than any astronaut.

Since no one else seems to be working on it, I have applied my astonishingly unscientific, nontechnical mind to the problem.  Hey! You never know–a fresh outlook and all. I'll never be hired by NASA. I've got a different kind of mind.  I think I've got it. I'm confident it is original thinking.  What if we simply dial our old phone number from when we were children (In my case, SPencer 9–6134–wish I had my childhood Princess telephone on which to call)  Your parents and you carry the old number with you like sort of a primitive precursor of the bar code.  Why do you think you've never forgotten your old phone number in the first place?  This is the reason. It's just that nobody ever realized it before. I am not even thinking of becoming famous here. I'm just thinking about talking to my Mother.

OK. It's Mother's Day and I'm going to try it. I'm calling.  Here goes ... S.P.e.n.c.e.r.9.6.1.3.4 ... It's ringing ... that's a good sign. Hmmm ... no answer. Well, maybe Mom's out for Mother's Day.  I hope so and I hope she is having a wonderful time.  There is no recording asking me to leave a message, so maybe there is no voicemail in heaven.  Maybe God's not that into technology.  I should think not.  After all, He's very old.

No answer ... that's OK  No problem, Mom.  Love you and catch you tomorrow.

xoxoxoxoxo
Susie

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Drawing in the Dark



Drawings done in the dark at Big Apple Circus, ink on paper,  8-1/2 x 11"

ANDRE MASSON  (1896-1987), the French surrealist painter, developed "automatic writing," which is spontaneous linear expression -- in his case of his personal mythology. Some believe that automatic writing is communication with the Other Side. But Masson reported that the figures which appeared in his automatic drawings were not the result of spiritual influence but rather came from his tapping into his own subconscious. The artists who followed his automatic drawing influence would draw with their non-dominant hand, or blindfolded, in order to create from a place deep within the inner self. To enhance this phenomenon, the artists would draw a swirling line with a pen rather than a pencil because ink flows more easily than graphite. They also used a pad rather than a single piece of paper so that they could keep going, thereby plumbing further their inner depths.

I am inspired by Masson's work and wanted to try automatic writing myself. Armed with a pad with slick paper and a very flowing, leaky fountain pen, I went to the Big Apple Circus. Although the circus ring was lit with spotlights, the seating area was pitch black - I could not see what I was drawing-- just had to feel the pad and pen (mimicking the blindfold requirement). Although I drew with my dominant hand, I was extremely uncomfortable in the crowded bleachers, with coats piled around and on top of me and with various parts of others' anatomies poking me. This crowding impaired my drawing ability (mimicking drawing with my non-dominant hand).

The circus acts came and went in the ring with lightning speed and often overlapped. This obscured my vision of my subjects. In trying to keep up with my subjects, I had to draw at a speed at which I was not competent. Most of the time, I could not see my subjects in their entirety. Sometimes, I could not even tell what they were and simply drew their motion, which was neither tangible nor visible. The flashes of strobe lights further compromised my vision.
Every time I draw, even in my studio in optimal conditions with well-lit, stationary signifiers, I believe the drawings come from deep within me. Considering the poor drawing conditions at the circus, compounded by the obstructed visibility of my subject matter, I believe that my drawings were in a strict sense automatic and thus comparable to Masson's automatic drawings. I definitely did not have time to think about content, and most of the time I was drawing only motion.

When the performance ended and the house lights came on, I cleaned up our popcorn, cotton candy, soda and coffee cup detritus. I was enchanted by what I found on the floor. All the time I was engaging in automatic writing, my coffee cup had been practicing it also. The cup managed to produce quite a nice work, which I call "Rings on Napkin."