Suze’s Art News December 2020

Since September…

In the past several months, I’ve given several virtual talks, one for Puget Sound Book Artists which covered my bark beetle books in last summer’s long empty and silent exhibit, “Gathered from the Field,” at Kittredge Gallery  ·  University of Puget Sound. Another was for Seattle Co-Arts which covered a range of my art projects and what motivates me.  I was deeply gratified by compliments such as “…[your work] would expand [students’] ideas of what a book is,” “Your exposition of the effect of eco-disruption is so creative and compelling,” and “[you are] a link for both scientists and artists to collaborate.”


(Above) West Point Lighthouse at Low Tide,
watercolor on paper, 11”x15”

(Below) Suze painting masked in Kubota Garden
(James McFarlane photo) 

A June-October activity that was surprisingly meaningful was coordinating plein air outings for our local Northwest Watercolor Society NWWS, together with Stephanie Twigg’s longtime group of summer painters. We visited 21 different locations; in such stressful times, the chance to paint together outside, even masked and socially distanced, was revitalizing. We had participants tell us it was the highlight of their weeks and downright life-saving.


The Magnitude of the Problem, panel 2. Varnished watercolor on torn paper, 39” x 47”

There are some advantages to this pandemic for exhibiting artists — NWWS’s International Open was virtual this year, which meant no packing, shipping, or delivery as well as no size limits. I was happy to have one panel of my huge, burned tree painting, The Magnitude of the Problem, in it. The total piece is 21.5 feet long or high, a format which doesn’t translate well to a small horizontal screen. Part of reacting to a work of art is a visceral response, feeling its scale in relation to your own body in space. (See Art in the Time of Coronavirus, or, “The Big Tree” ) for a longer essay about it.)


(Top) Ars datum est (Volume XIV). Fir-engraver-inscribed log; laser-cut mat board; paint; linen thread. 16.5″H x 5″ diameter, closed. Each page is essentially a bar from a bar chart representing the areas affected in British Columbia and Alberta from 1999-2007.

(Bottom) Beetle Graph (Volume XXXI). Douglas fir branches, laser-cut wood, laserprint transfers, bronze rings. 86″H x 18″W x 3″D The top three species contributing totree mortality in Washington State from 2009-2018:  Dendroctonus ponderosae (~69%); Scolytus ventralis (~20%); Dendroctonus pseudotsugae (11%). Data from Aerial Detection Surveys summarized in WA DNR annual Forest Health reports

I was honored to receive the “Strongest Voice in Art” award from Lynn Hanson Gallery’s annual ICON Show. Juror Stephanie Hargrave gave the award for my bark beetle books shown above.


Goodell Creek Cedar, varnished watercolor on torn paper, 52”H x 16”W and 52”H x 44”W

I thank June Sekiguchi, multi-talented artist and curator for featuring 6 of my burned tree portraits in her recent Earth, Wind and Fire exhibit at Ida Culver House Broadview. It is closed to the public but there is a video here:Earth Wind and Fire at Ida Culver House Broadview.


Party Platforms. Mixed media, ~15”W x 18”H x 10”D.

Somewhat frivolously, my longtime friend Cath Carine and I created a mixed media piece called Party Platforms – when will they learn to dance? As the election got closer it was harder to find any aspect as amusing as it seemed last February, when the original task was to develop shoe-based artwork for the Anacortes Art Festival’s fundraiser gallery. That event was postponed and then cancelled, but it was shown in Las Lagunas Gallery’s “Political Discord” virtual exhibit. Watch an animation here: Party Platforms animation 2 on Vimeo


What’s Yet to Come
(or, as this past year has taught us, at least what I have planned that might change…)

At the invitation of the Woodinville Arts Alliance, in October I installed 17 burned tree paintings and 4 burned-over landscape paintings at Patterson Cellars‘ tasting room at their Seattle location. They look great in this big space, but of course with our current pandemic closures, they’re again all by themselves. They are supposed to be up until sometime in March – I hope they can be seen before then!


Tentatively titled Zion Branches, varnished watercolor on torn paper, 52”H x 22”

In March-May I will be part of an environmentally-themed exhibit at Columbia City Art Gallery in Seattle. I will have some new material there, such as this just-finished Zion National Park tree. I am experimenting with new ways to mount separate additional branches alongside the trunk of the tree. I found the branches so visually exciting it’s tempting to start a new series of just branches!


(Left) Forest Decomposition (Volume XIII) Beetle-inscribed bark embedded in epoxy resin covers; laser-cut mat board pages with tea-dyed rice paper and pyrography; viscose endpapers, linen thread 9″H x 8″W x 4″D closed

(Center and Right) Outbreak (Volume XXV) Log with beetle galleries, handmade Japanese paper, iron-oxide-dyed non-woven viscose 12″H x 6″ diam. Some of the sheets are chiri (“leftover”) kozo fiber which has many small bits of bark embedded in them. The frontispiece has leaf skeletons embedded in it. The increasing circular areas covered by rubbings taken from the same represent the proportion of tree mortality in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area of central British Columbia 1999 – 2016.

North American Handmade Papermakers’ “Materiality” exhibit will be online this year. It goes live on December 21 at https://www.northamericanhandpapermakers.orgI’m honored to have two of the bark beetle books that include handmade papers in the exhibit, where they are surrounded by amazing pieces. I owe a debt of gratitude to Mary Ashton, who taught me about making Japanese papermaking as well as Western, and to Bonnie Thompson Norman who helped offset-print some of those papers.


Just over Knapsack Pass, watercolor on paper, 11” x 15”

From January 6 to February 20 I will have small Northwest landscapes at Shore-Lake Art Gallery in Lake Forest Park, mostly from the many hikes I took this summer.

I’m happy to have a 2021 Shunpike Storefront exhibit exact date and location TBD, during which I will finally have a space large enough to be able to show “The Magnitude of the Problem” (see above). Likewise I will have an October storefront for the City of Auburn’s Art on Main program.

Bark Beetle Book Vol. 34: Resource Competition. Branch with beetle galleries; blue-stained dimensional lumber, laser-cut Baltic birch plywood, with laser-print transfers, Kevlar thread. 5″H x 12.75″W x 4″D. I interpolated a branch to dimensional lumber in both form and graphics, because both beetles and humans like to make their homes from trees; hence we are competing for the same resource.

I have been continuing to work on bark beetle books with my chief scientific mentor, Dr. Diana Six of the University of Montana. While we were already in this collaboration, together we will be part of an exhibit entitled “Science Stories” which matched book artists and scientists at the University of Puget Sound. It will be virtual from March – September 2021, with the hope that it will be installed and viewable in person in September.

For the same effort I have been acting as book artist/designer to a collaboration between Professor Daniel Burgard, a chemist working on environmental monitoring through wastewater sampling, and photographer James Oker.

Larches at Lake Ann, watercolor on paper, 11” x 15”

And last but not least, I will once again be teaching a 2-day online winter landscape painting class (is that an oxymoron!?) through Seattle’s Gage Academy. There’s still room.


Stay safe and keep those around you safe!