Past Shows & Events

A Tribute To Suzy Greenberg

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September 10, 2012, 4pm-10pm

This exhibition was curated by her longtime collaborator, gallery advisor and friend Lars Mason, Director of Academic Services at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

Works of art are usually described in the present tense, as they are always observed and experienced presently. They are the things that last. It is the artists that don’t. Art is the gifts that the artist leaves behind. Suzy Greenberg’s art is just a small part of the gifts she left us. There is something comforting about looking at her body of work. Like so much else in her life they are filled with her keen insights on the foibles that come with being human, delivered with wit, humor, and intelligence. These things, at least, are ours always.

Suzy’s most recent body of work is a series of light boxes from 2011. Layered transparencies, each coated with paint or collage combine to create micro- and macrocosms of the universe. Turning the light off and on changes perceptions, realities and perspectives. With the light off in Apollo Twin, the Milky Way swirls in the great abyss of space.  But, turn the light on and the empty galaxy is suddenly teams with the life created by all that churning gas and dust--cells and babies glow through the layers of time and space. Mythic characters float in their heavenly homes. Suzy’s layers capture the multiple planes of human existence as their own lives and creations attempt to fill the voids in the vast expanse of space.

Suzy's work often exhibits these multi-directional movements and relationships. Her work, on the surface, often explores a bit of personal identity such as a childhood story or memory. She inevitably whittles inward, exposing the big picture stuff from these smaller details. A seemingly abstract pattern or stream of thought  often meets with a very representational, empathetic human side, that tries to find a spot and a purpose for us in the vastness. It is never didactic or heavy handed though, because welded to all this soul-searching is  a we-are-all-in-it sense of humor. Her work on any scale pokes fun at the human condition and our need to find a place and a purpose in the universe.

Full of Grace, a large scale installation is a chapel to the Virgin Mary. Suzy comments on the conflicting desires of our mortal, physical world with that of the spiritual in a mosaic of toast and scales. Each piece of  toast that lines the walls carry the potential to prove the existence of God by transforming itself miraculously into the image of The Virgin. The vintage bathroom scales offer hope, redemption. If we are good, will God show is love by taking that last five pounds? Suzy blithely weaves together our need to find proof of God with our very physical obsessions with looks and weight.

Finally, there is the jewelry and light sconces Suzy made to support her SooVac habit. Shrinky-Dink lamp shades made with tiny squares of quirky people and animals harken back to her childhood, their retro shape an homage to the space-age fad of the era before that. Miniature people--punk rockers, brides, businessmen--encased in little circles of glass dangle from earrings and chains frozen in their everyday activities. Suzy sold these in that cabinet of curiosities that served as the store in the front of the old SooVac space.

Paramount to all of Suzy Greenberg's work is people. Lifesize, real people. When Suzy opened the doors to SooVac in 2001 she knew that she wanted a place where artists could experiment, take risks, get experience. She was one step ahead. Always. Someone would show at SooVac and the next thing you knew they were winning awards and popping up in reviews everywhere. The list of artists she worked with is a massive array of talent in all media, and an amazing group of people. Suzy’s talent, lay not only in her eye, which was impeccable, but she saw in artists things they did not yet see themselves.

It wasn’t finding the next big thing Suzy was interested in. It was the artists, each one. She supported them with her mentorship, through purchases, and exhibitions. At an opening, she would find a nerve-wracked artist in the middle in the opening, leading them to a folding chair in the backroom. She would hand them a drink and give them a few encouraging words and a moments silence before sending them back out into the hordes.

One of the last times we saw Suzy, we sat at a front table in Muddy Waters drinking vodka sodas and snacking on fries. As usual, we covered every topic from art, to romance, from tv psychics, to the future and death. ”What comes after?” we wondered after discussing the horror movies streaming on Netflix and cheesy sci-fi.  “We’ll know when we get there,” she said.

~~Andrea Carlson and Tamatha Perlman, SooVac Curatorial Panel

Photographed by Rik Sferra

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