Art Talk will feature Sucec and Beck
March 17, 2015
Visual artists Bonnie Sucec and Susan Beck have a uniquely collaborative relationship.
When one gets an idea for a piece of art, she will call the other and describe what she is doing. The other takes notes and comes up with a different work, based on the description.
That’s how the paintings for their portion of the Kimball Art Center’s "100 % Women" exhibit were created, and to let the public learn more about the process, Sucec and Beck will give a free two-hour art talk and gallery tour at the art center on Thursday.
"We’ve known each other for more than 35 years and we have always drawn together by trading our art work back and forth during the process of developing an idea," Beck said during the artists’ joint interview with The Park Record. "We also go on trips and look at artwork together. We have certainly had that kind of history."
The process begins when one of the artists comes up with a concept.
"For example, Susan will do a drawing, an original piece of her own, however she wants, and she’ll call me on the phone and describe it to me once she is completely finished," Sucec said. "While she describes it, I will grab a piece of paper and divide it into quarters and begin writing down the specifics — how big it is and what medium she used. I will also make note about how the light and how the art is highlighted."
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The two will discuss where the central image is placed on the canvas and if the subject is a person or thing.
"We will actually bring some of these papers that have our individual responses to each other to the art talk so people can see what we have written down," Sucec said.
"They’ll be able to look at the pictures we did from these notes and see how we arrived at what we did."
Painting individual, yet, collaborative works does have its own challenges, Beck said.
"It’s difficult to describe a piece of art to someone else, but there are a couple of things that come to play," she said. "One is that we are very familiar with each other’s artwork. That gives us a little sense of composition, placement and texture."
The other things is both artists have their own style.
"So, if Bonnie describes a face to me, I don’t try to draw the exact same face that she has done," Beck said. "I only pay attention to the size, placement, color and light and shade. We consider the verbal part of this process as a map, over which we lay our own particular responses.
"We have our own idea of a face and things like that," she said. "That’s what gives the works our own personal element, and it also helps us stay true to ourselves." While the two take verbal cues as to what they are working on, the artists have to be happy with the finished works in order for the process to work.
"You want to make it look good," Sucec said. "I don’t want to copy Susan and there is no way I could. I just have to draw like I do and arrange it so it all fits together so I can feel satisfied with it."
Still, it’s like Christmas when the artists show their works to each other.
"That’s a good way to describe it when we see each other’s work," Beck said. "It’s always exciting."
"We didn’t tell you also that we have almost come to blows a couple of times," Sucec said with a big laugh. "This really isn’t easy. I’ve called Susan several times and told her it was my last time. Then she’ll tell me to turn my paper over, close up my studio and go into my house. It’s not all roses."
The Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., will host a free Art Talk with Bonnie Sucec and Susan Beck, two of the visual artists whose works are featured in the "100 % Women" exhibit at the center, on Thursday, March 19, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The public is invited. For more information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.
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