Suzanne; The Artist’s Life

My parents encouraged me to draw as much as possible in my early years. I am a native of Bratenahl, Ohio, but at age seven, the family moved to a cattle ranch in northern Florida, where my father became one of the first experimenters in hydroponic farming. The venture proved unprofitable and the family returned to Ohio; this time we settled in Toledo. My mother, an art critic, began writing for the Toledo Blade, and eventually became an art advisor for the Vatican.

I attended Case Western Reserve and The Cleveland Institute of Art, concentrating in art history and studio art. As an undergraduate student, one of my paintings was purchased by the Cleveland Museum of Art. Graduating early, after my junior year, I was awarded a fellowship at The Yale School of Music and Art. Soon after, I enrolled as a graduate student at the School of Art and Architecture at Yale.

I returned to Toledo after graduation and became director of the J. L. Hudson Gallery, which focused on contemporary art, which was not to the liking of the Toledo public in the early 1970’s. I then moved to New York, where I sought an audience more receptive to new ideas in art.

I arrived with $300 in my pocket. With portfolio in hand, I canvassed Fifth Avenue, relentlessly proposing that my paintings could be the backdrops for their window displays. Working with a store’s art director, I gave the displays depth, color, and often a narrative that would greatly enhance their product arrangements. Within a short time I was contracted by Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Charles Jourdan, Elizabeth Arden, Bendels, and beyond, to give life to their window displays. Nearly every Fifth Avenue store window bore my stamp.

Restless and seeking adventure, I teamed up with outdoor and hunting writer Alex Brant and became a safari photographer. I covered hunts and expeditions all across Africa, in Sudan, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Morocco, as well as in Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia, for about four years.

Then, I returned again to New York and was offered a position with British fashion designer Paul Costelloe. Again, I pulled up my stakes and moved to Ireland, where I sourced ideas and sketched the line for the fashion house, as well as covering the shows in Paris, Milan and London.

Gravitating again to New York in 2000, I developed the SB International Design. In a short time, I was sought by Bill Blass, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, and more. My expertise has led to consulting for architects and interior designers on projects ranging from apartments to homes in the Hamptons and Tuxedo Park.

At present, I am developing a line of bags and other products for food retailers.