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The news of artist, environmental activist, documentary film producer and philanthropist Susan Swartz.

Breaking New Artistic Ground

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A guest blog entry by Robin Marrouche, Director of the Kimball Art Center of Park City, UT

The art world is legendary for taking risks, but the Catholic Church less so. That's in part why tonight's grand opening of Swartz's exhibit "A Personal Path" at the breathtaking Baroque Kollegienkirche cathedral in Salzburg is so special.  It falls on May 29th, the Day of Ascension, and is a major honor and feather in the cap of the career of a American artist. The creative collaborative concept is an actual breakthrough and is making headlines in Europe for bringing contemporary art to an unlikely setting.

The show was the idea of German visionary Dr. Walter Smerling, Chairman of the Foundation for Art and Culture in Bonn Germany. Dr. Smerling has conceived of and initiated public art projects with some of the most famous artists in the world over the past decade in Salzburg, such as Marina Abramovic and Anselm Kiefer. His goal has been to transform the city which is known as a musical epicenter  - being the birthplace of Mozart - for its famous summer concert series into a year round compelling and culturally rich visual arts destination. Dr. Smerling saw Susan's work in the Belgravia Gallery in London and it gave him the idea and inspiration to propose the concept to the Mayor, the Salzburg Foundation and the leaders of the Church to see if they would take the literal leap of faith with him.

Swartz and Smerling are blazing new trails by marrying modern abstract expressionism in such a traditional and conservative setting as an historic and landmark church.  The result is an extraordinary marriage of art and spirituality in a unique modern context. It has to be seen to be believed. It also embodies two of Susan's greatest passions, her art and her faith with the opportunity to be shared by all. The church itself is breathtaking and is a substantial part of the landscape of this incredibly beautiful European city. To see modern works of art adorning its grand walls is visually subtle, stunning yet very powerful and ethereal at the same time. One is moved beyond words by the exhibit's impact upon entering the cathedral. It feels like it is breaking some unwritten rule to see contemporary art in a Baroque church, but it works beautifully on so many levels and floods its interior with a sense of light, color, grace and energy.

"This opening is immensely meaningful to me" remarked Swartz. "My spirituality has always been a partner to my painting. I draw on my faith whenever I paint, wherever I am. Being in Salzburg with my paintings in this beautiful historic church, I feel the same flood of passion. This pairing of art and faith is, in my mind, as natural and perfect as can be. I am delighted and honored."

Dr. Smerling concludes that this remarkable exhibit, A Personal Path marks a major turning point for the Salzburg Foundation which has broken new ground with this project.  Tonight's opening will be attended by art critics and patrons from around the world, including the renowned architect Sir Norman Foster which is an amazing tribute to Susan's talent and widespread appeal. The show will be on display through July 4, 2014.