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

A Review of Susan Swartz’s Personal Path Solo Exhibition at the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany - May 21-August 2, 2015

At the famous Deutsches Eck, or “German Corner”, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers converge, lies one of Germany's oldest and most beautiful towns – Koblenz.  It has been dedicated as a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered to be a national treasure. It is also the backdrop for Susan Swartz’s latest solo exhibition, Personal Path, where 80 of her works occupy three floors of the City’s esteemed Ludwig Museum.

On May 20, 2015 I had the great pleasure of attending the opening of the exhibit, attended by many leaders in the European art world and several key dignitaries of Germany. The Director of the Ludwig Museum, Dr. Beate Reifenscheid, noted in her opening remarks that dedicating three floors of a museum to a single artist is almost unheard of, which is true not only in Europe but anywhere in the museum world.  Seeing an exhibit with three floors dedicated to a single artist is truly a remarkable experience.  It is a triumph in the career of any artist, past or present.

Amy Brownstein, Jim Swartz, Susan Swartz, and Robin Marrouche

Amy Brownstein, Jim Swartz, Susan Swartz, and Robin Marrouche

The artist’s journey is clearly visible when works created over the past ten years are placed within a single show.  Over the three floors of the Ludwig Museum, Susan Swartz’s paintings tell a story not only of her artistic career but also of her personal victories and dedication to expressing the beauty of nature. Swartz overcame sicknesses that, through using a newfound strength of inspiration, allowed her to display a new form of power and narrative in her work.

The first floor of the exhibit displays Swartz’s larger paintings, some of which belong to museums and private collections, and are quite well known in her hometown community of Park City, Utah.  Earlier works are placed between newer paintings, so visitors can see the evolution of Swartz’s artistic style.  Experiencing these large creations hanging and well lit in the museum is magical – the colors are brighter and the brushstrokes are more vivid. 

Moving through the show reveals the clear progression of the exhibition.  The second floor features two of Swartz’s series, the Contemplation Series and the Landscape of Resonances, among other paintings.  Here, the move from slightly abstracted to fully abstracted painting becomes visible.  The contrast between the bright colors of the Landscape of Resonances Series and the soft shades of the Contemplation Series creates a flow to the room giving visitors space to think about Swartz’s work and its changes overtime.  The third floor showcases some of Swartz’s smaller works, again blending newer and older pieces to maintain the energy and juxtaposition that is so crucial to the exhibition.

Curator Dieter Ronte aptly quotes Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist on Swartz's work in the entry didactic: "Each of her paintings richly illustrates the beauty of our world...".  You leave the Ludwig Museum's doors not only inspired but also grateful for nature's wonders. The energy of the show is unbelievable and its setting at the famous German Corner, makes it all the more special. The careful placement of paintings and enormity of the exhibition puts Swartz’s work in a new light.  I urge anyone visiting Germany this summer to pay a visit to Susan Swartz's stunning exhibit in lovely Koblenz. 

Robin Marrouche is the Executive Director of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah.  She has been following Susan Swartz’s career since 2007.  Swartz’s work was part of a group exhibition at the Kimball Art Center in 2013. 

A photo gallery with images of the exhibition can be found here.

 

Susan Swartz Is Now Featured In Solo Exhibition at Ludwig Museum, Koblenz

On Wednesday evening, May 20th, an exhibition of paintings by Susan Swartz, opened at the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany.  This solo exhibition entitled, Personal Path, features more than 80 works of art spanning various stages of her career. Works exhibited encompass many styles, showcasing Swartz’s evolution as an artist from a realist painter to an abstract painter. The exhibition will be on view through August 2, 2015.

More than 300 guests attended the preview event. Remarks were made by our distinguished guests: Joachim Hofmann-Göttig, the Lord Mayor of Koblenz; Julia Klöckner, the Vice President of the CDU; Professor Dr. Beate Reifensheid, the Director of the Museum; Professor Dr. Dieter Ronte, the Exhibition Curator; and Susan Swartz.  The exhibition was organized and made possible by the Ludwig Museum and the Foundation for Art and Culture.

The Ludwig Museum was founded in 1992 and its permanent collection was assembled by the prominent collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig.  The collection is mainly post-1945 German and French art with well-known artists represented such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet and American artists, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg. 

Professor Dr. Dieter Ronte, the curator of the exhibition, and former Director of the Museum of Modern Art Vienna and the Kunst Museum Bonn, describes Swartz’s works as, “witnesses of personal introspection as self-discovery and self-determination through pictorial bursts […] full of romanticism, aspiration, love and always on the search for the secret supernatural, pursuing people’s mind towards nature, looking for a universal poetry which binds at the same time scholarship, religion and visual arts.”

Working primarily with acrylics on linen, Swartz’s work is known for its rich texture and the intricate layering of color she employs to give her paintings life and energy.  With her evocation of coastal splendor and mountain drama, Swartz follows in the tradition of the great German painters, 19th century Romantic sage Caspar David Friedrich, and 20th century icon Gerhard Richter.  She is inspired by the intersection of art, nature, and spirituality.

Commenting on the exhibit in Koblenz, Swartz says “I am delighted to share my work with visitors to the Ludwig Museum and the citizens of Germany. Painting is both my passion and my profession and, as the name of this exhibition suggests, my evolution as an artist has been a journey down a very personal path. I paint what I see before me, employing different styles and techniques depending on the imagery and what speaks to me.”

Swartz’s career has long been inspired by her views of the natural world and her spiritual beliefs.  As the Official Environmental Artist of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Swartz’s work both as a painter and an activist is widely recognized and credited with advancing conversation about human stewardship of natural resources.

Swartz serves on the Dean’s Council of the Harvard Divinity School.  Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Kollegienkirche Salzburg in Austria, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the Springville Museum in Springville, Utah, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She is represented by Belgravia Gallery in London.

Susan Swartz is available for personal interviews upon request.

Susan Swartz Awes and Surprises at Financial Times Opening Night Party for Frieze NYC

Susan Swartz

Susan Swartz

On Thursday, May 14, Susan Swartz’s original art work could be found displayed throughout the home of Financial Times US Managing Editor Gillian Tett in honor of the opening day of Frieze New York 2015.  As long time supporters of Swartz’s work, Tett and partner Joshua Brockner wanted to feature her paintings and art video installation at the event.  More than 10 of Swartz’s paintings, including those from her Contemplation Series and newest series Blue Reverie, were on display as well as her video, Preserving Grace, produced with cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg. 

Gillian Tett and Susan Swartz

Upon arriving, guests were provided with headsets to fully experience Preserving Grace.  The video blends images of Swartz’s paintings with photos of nature, showing just how intimately Susan’s works interrelate with the natural scenery of her surroundings.  Throughout the seven-minute video, viewers were captivated by the juxtaposition of the real and the imagined, and by Susan’s ability to transcend both these realms. Rethinking their own relationship with nature, guests watched the video multiple times and found Swartz’s work to be exciting and new, enabling them to deepen their appreciation of her canvases.

Guests enjoying Preserving Grace

Swartz follows the success of this event with A Personal Path, a solo exhibition at the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany from May 20 to August 2, 2015.  Swartz is truly a rising star in the international contemporary art world.

Forest Glow - US State Department Art in Embassies Program

Forest Glow, 2017

Forest Glow, 2017

Susan was recently invited to participate in the Art in Embassies (AIE) program and her work will be displayed at the US Ambassadorial Residence in New Zealand.  AIE, formalized by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, uses the visual arts to achieve the US State Department’s goals of promoting public diplomacy through cross-cultural dialogue.  AIE has over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, curators, galleries, museums, private collectors, and universities.  

Mark Gilbert, the US Ambassador to New Zealand, selected Susan’s Forest Glow for the Ambassadorial Residence’s collection.  Mark and Nancy Gilbert collect Susan’s paintings. Completed in 2007, Forest Glow is part of Susan’s collection of surrealistic and abstract tree paintings inspired by the Wasatch Mountains surrounding Park City.  The muted green and vivid purple hues of Forest Glow represent springtime, the arrival of color and the rebirth of nature.  Ambassador Gilbert explains his reasoning for choosing Forest Glow: “It is the perfect fit for the Ambassadorial Residence – it provides a connection between American abstract landscape art and the lush New Zealand scenery.”

Forest Glow on display in the library at the Ambassadorial Residence

Forest Glow on display in the library at the Ambassadorial Residence

Susan is greatly honored and humbled to join the prestigious artists represented in the US State Department’s art collection.  When Ambassador Gilbert’s tour ends, Susan’s artwork will remain in the AIE database, available for other diplomats to hang in their homes.  Susan’s work is not limited to one group of people or one location; it crosses national and international borders and spurs conversations about art and culture.

 While Susan’s work is currently hanging on the library wall of the Ambassador’s home, the official opening of the artwork at the Residence is June 21, 2015.

A Solo Exhibition at the Museum Ludwig Koblenz

Evolving Visions, 2015

Museum Ludwig Koblenz and Susan Swartz Studios are proud to announce Susan Swartz's solo exhibition, A Personal Path.  Consisting of approximately 80 major works, Susan's paintings will be featured in the entire museum and will be on view from May 21 to August 2, 2015.  The Exhibition will include a number of very recent paintings as well as significant earlier work from private collections and museums. 

Susan Swartz explores the landscape through potent colors and richly layered abstract paintings.  With her evocation of coastal splendor and mountain drama, Susan follows in the tradition of the great German painters such as 19th century Romantic sage, Caspar David Friedrich, and 20th century icon Gerhard Richter.  She is inspired by the intersection of art, nature, and spirituality.

As Susan's relationship with nature has evolved, her painting has progressed from a realist style to an abstract style.  A Personal Path reveals the depth of her work and the evolution of her abstract paintings.

The Museum Ludwig was founded in 1992 and its permanent collection was assembled by the well-known collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig.  The collection is mainly post-1945 German and French art with well-known artists represented such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet and American artists, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg. 

The museum regularly presents major special exhibitions and is proudly featuring Susan Swartz's work.

The Bhutan Series

Rice Fields and Prayer Flags 

Rice Fields and Prayer Flags 

The Bhutan Series is a new set of paintings inspired by Susan’s recent trip to Bhutan, the land of Gross National Happiness. Focusing on native vibrant colors, The Bhutan Series explores the region’s landscape, in particular its rare confluence of spirituality and natural beauty. The Series contains five pieces, several referencing the ubiquitous prayer flags that seem to spring naturally from the Bhutanese landscape. With similar brushstrokes of whites and vivid colors, the prayer flags pop and move as if blown by the wind, and these contrasting colors produce a sense of unity between Bhutan’s natural splendor and the flags’ man-made material.   The relationship between the environment and Happiness shows just how intertwined are human life and nature.  Similarly the strength and emotion of Susan’s work reflect the tension she sees between the beauty of nature and the pain it has caused her.  In Bhutan, Susan was reminded of the softer, more loving and spiritual side of nature.  

The largest painting in the Bhutan Series, Rice Fields and Prayer Flags (48 x 72), shows the richness of the Bhutanese countryside, recalling rice paddies and forested mountainside.

Prayers Over Rice Fields

Prayers Over Rice Fields

In Prayers Over Rice Fields (20 x 20) the blowing prayer flags span the diagonal of the canvas, emphasizing the force of the wind.  

Prayers Afloat

Prayers Afloat

Using the prayer flags as a connector, Susan, in Prayers Afloat, depicts the interaction between these materials and the sky.  The softer contrast alludes to a greater spirituality and reinforces the natural relationship between the prayer flags and the Bhutanese countryside.

Joy

Joy

Joy (36 x 48) uses varied colors with an emphasis on red hues.  The superficial layers of Joy seem chaotic, but look deeper to discover a sensation of spirituality and peacefulness. 

Bhutan September

Bhutan September

Bhutan September (48 x 48), with its softer tones and abstracted images of tress, offers yet another perspective of the Bhutanese landscape.  Various shades of greens and whites invoke a soft, warm, and inviting feeling, alluding to the peace and happiness nature provides. 

For Susan, painting is her release, another form of spirituality.  Her work and process of connecting spirituality and nature takes to heart the ideals of Gross National Happiness.

Beyond the canvas - 15 years of supporting documentaries

Susan Swartz with Amy Ziering, Producer of The Hunting Ground 

Susan Swartz with Amy Ziering, Producer of The Hunting Ground 

During the last half of January, Park City, Utah transforms into the “it” destination for film lovers, celebrities, and other affiliates of the motion picture industry.  Sundance shows over 200 films across all genres. This year’s documentary category was particularly strong due to many of the films’ topical subject matter.  Combining her passions for philanthropy and art, Susan Swartz has been actively involved with the emergence of documentary films at Sundance over the past 15 years, hosting the first documentary parties at her home and founding Impact Partners in 2007.

Six of the eight films Susan was involved with were produced with Impact Partners, an organization that brings together filmmakers and film investors / philanthropists to create cinema that engages pressing social issues. 

The films Susan worked on with Impact Partners cover a broad range of topics including film, environmental, and international history; prostitution; and sexual assault.  Censored Voices reveals, for the first time, interviews with Israeli soldiers returning from the battlefield of the 6-Day War in 1967.  Chuck Norris vs Communism looks at the impact Western films had on Romania during the Cold War. Dreamcatcher, a British film, tackles the world of prostitution through the eyes of a former prostitute turned powerful advocate for the community.  In How to Change the World viewers learn about the 1971 nuclear test zone protest that led to the founding of Greenpeace, now a leading environmental advocacy group.  Sembene! celebrates the “father of African cinema,” a man who gave Africans a voice. 

Susan with Regina Scully, Executive Producer of The Hunting Ground 

Susan with Regina Scully, Executive Producer of The Hunting Ground 

 One of the most important films at the Festival was The Hunting Ground.  Using verite footage and first-person testimony, The Hunting Ground follows survivors of rape and related crimes on college campuses as they deal with the aftermath of sexual assault.  A timely film, The Hunting Ground shows the larger effects of sexual assault by looking at various organizations including politicians and support groups.

Susan was directly involved with two other films. Taking a different approach to gender differences and issues, The Mask You Live In looks at the effects a narrow definition of masculinity has on boys and men.  Racing Extinction, directed by Louie Psihoyos (Academy Award-winner for The Cove), reveals the issues surrounding endangered species and mass extinction.  Susan and Louie worked together on The Cove, so Racing Extinction allowed for them to further develop their relationship as well as discuss additional opportunities for environmental films. 

Susan with Louie Psihoyos, Director of Racing Extinction 

Susan with Louie Psihoyos, Director of Racing Extinction 

Susan’s involvement with Sundance’s documentary films has allowed her to explore other art forms and connect with a larger and varied audience.  Her work extends beyond the filming process – she supports both the filmmakers and subjects by providing a space in which creativity can thrive.  Susan has created a network that gives voice to the voiceless and exposes the oft-unseen realities of the world at large.

Sundance Film Festival Utah Women's Leadership Celebration

Sundance Institute and Zions Bank have joined forces to recognize women leaders in the arts.  This year’s award celebration fell at the end of the Sundance Film Festival, which hosted discussions and events surrounding the roles of women in the arts, particularly the film industry.  The award holds significant weight, occurring at a time when women in the film and television industries are trying to raise awareness and shift paradigms of gender norms.

The event celebrated women onscreen, behind the independent lens, and local role models.  As an involved member of the documentary film community and an artist, Susan’s award reads as follows:

For her leadership in the arts, we recognize Susan Swartz, an internationally acclaimed visual artist who explores nature through potent colors and richly layered abstract paintings. Inspired by the intersection of art, nature and spirituality, her distinctive style has earned her a place in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Springville Museum of Art.  Susan was the Official Olympic Environmental Artist for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and is published in the Gibbs Smith collectors book Painters of the Wasatch Mountains.  She is a member of the Deans Council of the Harvard Divinity School and a Founder of the Christian Center of Park City and Impact Partners, producing many award winning documentary films.  

The award was presented at the Sundance Film Festival Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration, a luncheon and private film event honoring female leaders in the arts.  The luncheon included a presentation by Geena Davis, Academy Award-winning actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media.

At the end of the celebration, Zions Bank presented Geena Davis with a Susan Swartz original painting in recognition of all the hard work she has done for women in media and the arts.  In Susan’s words the painting, Crimson Fog, “symbolizes Geena’s exuberance for life and activist endeavors.  The red color of the painting represents Geena and the strength and capabilities that women hold.”

Susan is honored to have participated in this celebration and to have been able to help Zions Bank recognize Geena for her impact on women in the arts.  Geena, Susan, and the women in attendance have been and will continue to be trailblazers for women in the arts and media.

Combining Spirituality With Nature: Susan's Trip to Bhutan

 

 

 

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a land of startling beauty and aesthetic contrast: craggy peaks and verdant valleys, fraying rope bridges stretching across milky blue glacial rivers, terraced rice paddies and stone templates strung with faded prayer flags. Much has been made of Bhutan’s promotion of Gross National Happiness as its primary national measurement.

 

A New York Times T Magazine article quoted Kinley Dorji, the head of Bhutan’s Ministry of Information and Communication explaining the principle: “When we say ‘happiness,’ we have to be very clear that it’s not fun, pleasure, thrill, excitement, all the temporary fleeting senses. It is permanent contentment — with life, with what you have. That lies within the self.”

 

This fall, Susan traveled to Bhutan and was bowled over by the country’s astounding natural beauty and the rich otherness of its culture. As Susan absorbed the country’s dramatic wild spaces and its complex modern history, she was most struck by the pervasive relationship of Bhutanese spirituality to the landscape. And the evident outcome of this connection indeed felt like a deep contentment.

 

“I have always sought refuge and inspiration in nature,” explains Susan. “And while the religious language and the landscapes of Bhutan are foreign to my own background, the reverence for the divine in nature was immediately familiar.”

 

The universality of this ecological spirituality inspired Susan to create two new paintings. Both large-scale works of acrylic on canvas are dominated by the deep green hues that characterize the country, with layers of nuanced texture and meaning.

 

Bhutan - Rice Fields and Prayer Flags (48 x72) is a characteristically large painting that conveys the contagious joy and that Susan observed and felt throughout her travels in Bhutan. The fecund hues of green dominate the canvas, recalling the productive rice paddies and lush forested mountainsides. This vivid green is punctuated by energetic accents of white and yellow, like playful prayer flags waving in the sunshine.

 

September (48x48) With a name that references a Buddhist ecological allegory, this square painting depicts a more intimate and peaceful view of the Bhutanese forest. The textured abstractions of rich greens and yellows convey the forest as the unfettered and eternal source of vitality of and youthfulness.  

 

The Hike For Hunger

Tomorrow afternoon, the Christian Center of Park City will host an event that has become a tradition in the area. The annual Hike for Hunger will bring together people from all walks of life to raise awareness of issues related to hunger and poverty and the charitable work done by the Center to address these concerns.

As a co-founder, board member, and active supporter of the Christian Center, Susan Swartz is poised to assist in the effort to bring greater visibility to these issues and will participate in the hike with her family and friends.

Founded in 2000, in large part thanks to Susan’s vision and drive, the Christian Center is a community organization that provides services and support to those in need throughout the Park City region. Regular happenings include appearances by prominent spiritual leaders and authors, seminars and volunteer opportunities. The Center runs a Snacks for Backpacks program, providing nutritious small meals to school age children in need, as well as a food pantry, counseling services and a free legal clinic for community members. Striving to provide support to people when, where and how they need it most, the Center relies on the financial and material support of individuals and institutions.

The Hike for Hunger is in its third year and will take place tomorrow, September 13, 2014 at the Deer Valley Resort’s Snow Park Lodge. All are welcome to attend, activities for children of all ages will be provided on site.  Check in begins at 2:00 PM and registration remains open