Susanne is an artist who shows great imagination and color
in her work. She attributes this to the importance of the sea in her life.
“I grew up in Sea Girt, on the New
swimming almost before walking. The first words I spoke were ‘see
boat’! Our family home was an oceanfront Queen Anne Cottage on what was
called Quaker Row so the ocean naturally became my first sea view and focus –
as did boats of all kinds! My mother used to refer to my twin brother and me as
her “sea babies” because no one could keep us out of the water! We
loved to ride the small waves at low tide from the sandbar up to the step at
love of art, however, was inherited mainly from my grandfathers – John Mason,
was an inventor, painter and a designer in silver for Tiffany & Co. He
created the Chrysanthemum Pattern among others and eventually had his own fine
arts store in Manhattan.
My maternal grandfather, Edmund R. Willets, was the founder of the renowned
Willets Belleek Co. in
– china known for its transparency. Our homes were filled with paintings,
china and silver so I grew up with a great appreciation for art.
“Just before WWII, my parents decided to live, during the winter,
in their Manhattan
apartment. My brother and I attended Friends Seminary on
16th St. before transferring
to George School,
a Quaker Boarding
School in Pennsylvania.
Both had really wonderful art departments, which is where I ‘woke
up’, so to speak. Graduating in 1945, I attended the Art Students League
in New York
– one of the great art centers of the world, which was an enormous eye
opener! My first sale was when the League bought a life drawing of mine – quite
a thrill! In 1948 I studied with American Impressionist, William von Schlegell, who had a studio in Mamaroneck
NY and another, along with his art
school, in Ogunquit,
Maine. I studied as his student at both
studios. Both towns are sailing ports where I sailed as well as in
I always loved being near water and sailing places.
“Much later – in the 70s – I started showing my work at the Betty
Parsons’ Gallery on 57th
St., as well as in several other galleries. I was
included in many museum exhibitions; my work now is in permanent and private
collections such as the Guild
East Hampton, NY
and the Delaware Art
in Wilmington. I was also nominated for an award in The
American Academy of Arts and Letters 1980 Exhibition – a feather in my
20-year-marriage, Susanne divorced and bought a converted barn in Amagansett,
Long Island, N.Y.
She had a separate 1700s Pennsylvania
barn dismantled and brought up to her property, situated a mile from the ocean.
It was reassembled with her new partner, Ed Morgan, to use as a studio. Her new
large abstract paintings sold well.
she and Ed settled in the BVI. They bought a Herreshoff 28 sloop, Ruadfor sailing and also designed and built a new home,
overlooking Jost Van Dyke with a lovely view of the
Caribbean Sea. Downsizing her art, she began working with
fabric collage, reverse paintings on glass, and more recently, computer art.
Her images are of sky, water, sailboats and tropical gardens, opening an
entirely new market for art lovers ( www.bviescape.com) “The sea
has always been, and is to this very day here in the BVI, my point of reference
– the biggest and grandest focus and influence in my life and art – besides my
children and grandchildren.”
It was a
joy for me to visit with Susanne and see her newest endeavors. Our islands are
fortunate indeed to feature such talent.