Abstract Notions

Red Dot by Jim Klein

Attend any modern art exhibit and you’re bound to overhear remarks like “my preschooler could do better” and “they want how much for that?”

While even the most educated art lover may have strong negative opinions about a piece that involves seemingly random brush strokes or splotches, there is much more than meets the eye behind the most well-known modern artworks. Indeed, there’s a rich history behind the abstract movement that can shed light on the value of this art form, and maybe enhance your appreciation as well.

Abstraction literally means to take something away from and that was the notion inspiring the artists of the late 19th century. The first signs of the movement can be traced to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Cubism, which all flirted with non-representational art. Expressionists like Henri Matisse focused more on color, shapes, and the emotions they evoked. Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali painted real things and people in an unreal manner. The artist most associated with the birth of the abstract movement was Wassily Kandinsky.

The commonality of these artists is that before experimenting with the non-representational, they were accomplished illustrators and painters. They understood perspective and color theory and the golden ratio – a compositional strategy in art. They saw modern art as an emotional response to the fundamental changes in society due to technology, the economy and philosophy.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

Artists throughout the last century continue to be inspired by the early movement of contemporary art – especially with popular and thriving urban centers around the world that are ideal for large, bold statements in paint and sculpture. Jim Klein can be counted as one of the inspired.


Meet Jim Klein

About two years ago, I was exploring the arts district in Scottsdale, soaking up the art, and looking for potential clients, when I entered the J Klein Gallery. It was a small space with vibrant colors and eye-catching canvases juxtaposed with traditional bronze sculptures of the animal world.

Turns out, I moved all the way from Colorado five years earlier to stumble upon a gallery featuring three familial artists from the very region I used to live! The owner, Jim Klein, splits his time between Scottsdale and Northern Colorado and created the space to showcase his own work as well as that of his nephew (Jeffrey Berryman) and cousin (Dan Ostermiller).

To make a long story short (haha, not likely), I ended up working with the gallery on some design projects and eventually came on as a part-time art consultant. This fulfilled a need for all involved and got me out of my pajamas and back into the joy of sharing art with the public.

Trappers Point by Jim Klein

As a former gallery owner, I sought to represent all types of art including abstract and non-traditional. I immediately appreciated Jim’s successful mix of interpretive and figurative imagery, with a broad, kaleidoscope of colors for his palette. His work is inspired by both Colorado and Arizona, flora and fauna, friends and strangers, as well as impulsive journeys through his own curiosity.


Speaking of journey, Jim’s artistic trajectory was not typical. Although he’s always been creative, his entrepreneurship was based in the agricultural industry. Upon retirement, he dipped back into painting and music and found a deeper well from which to draw. You’ll find conspicuous influences of his previous business and current farm life in many of his contemporary landscapes and the occasional cow.

“The subjects of my paintings are very seldom intentional. At a certain point, something takes over the brush, canvas, and paints and I have no control; the art goes where it goes,” explains Jim.

A man after my own heart, Jim relishes the marriage of art and story, often sharing his thought processes and sometimes humorous behind-the-canvas anecdotes. He doesn’t take the art world too seriously, and genuinely loves when his work makes people happy.

He gets it.

Before settling for a famous starry night poster or black & white photography for your own home collection, explore the diversity and delight behind names like Rothko, Pollock, af Klint and Klein. And next time you hear someone profess, “I just don’t get it!” remember that art appreciation doesn’t always require comprehension.

To learn more about Jim and the work at J Klein Gallery, visit here. Contact me for an exclusive 40% discount and free shipping while we’re closed due to the pandemic. [Portions of this post are from an article written by Susan Richards and reprinted with permission by DLP Marketing.]


Has Anyone Seen My Attention Span?

How are you doing?

Who knew six weeks ago this would be such a loaded question, right?
In just the past couple months:
Art festival season was in full swing in Arizona.
I joined a local writer’s group.
My “little girl” turned 18 and was looking forward to graduation in May.
I had a fabulous singer/songwriter scheduled for a house concert at the end of March.
A collage/journal workshop was on the calendar, and so forth and so on…
Then, suddenly our lives were turned upside down in what seemed like a matter of days.
Even though I already worked from home most days and consider myself an optimist, the past month totally knocked the wind out of me. Anyone else is in a similar, overwhelmed headspace?
Sure, I have more time now but my creative muse has left the building. My attention span seems to have vanished along with happy hour dates, summer concerts, and even hugs. My art supplies are collecting dust and incomplete sentences litter my writing like…
I’m sorry, what was I saying…?
The one thing I know, as the days pass it will be easier to get through to the other side of this crisis if we stay connected and supportive. I have been moved by such wonderful displays of community, generosity and outreach in our neighborhoods, from our schools and teachers, at the local essential stores and restaurants, and more.
For my part, I’ll be highlighting the talents of creative individuals who can’t share their gifts in the usual capacity right now – artists, musicians, writers, etc. I will post on my blog two or three times each week so if you’re interested, please follow for a small virtual showcase.
Meanwhile, you’ll find some people and resources below that have elevated my spirits in the past few weeks, providing much needed entertainment and inspiration. Enjoy, and reply to share your own feel-good finds.

For now, stay safe, stay home if possible, be well and wash your %#&* hands!

– Susan

• Follow Elizabeth Gilbert on Instagram for regular love and light. She also recorded an amazing piece about facing fear on the Insight Timer app.

• I’m head over heels for actress Mary Neely who is staying home while recreating musical numbers and costumed scenes from her favorite Broadway shows – all by herself! Check out her Twitter feed @mneelzy for ALL the joy.

• The Facebook page Viral MUSIC–Because Kindness Is Contagious is showcasing indie performers from all over the world. The live music is free but you can contribute to their digital tip jars whenever possible.

• The Getty Museum has challenged home-bound art lovers to recreate their favorite works with common things at their disposal. The results have been crazy fun and creative!

• One of my favorite people on Twitter, writer Chuck Wendig had a great post on his Terrible Minds blog last week that perfectly described how many of us feel.

covid help

Don’t just find your purpose, create it!

Last summer I celebrated one year of Suzu Creative and knew I wanted to find some kind of mastermind or program to help me fully clarify my business goals and provide a circle of support and professional knowledge.

Serendipitously, Quinn Tempest – a vivacious business coach and bright ray of sunshine on Instagram – launched just such a group and invited me to join the inaugural beta program! It has been an amazing experience of education, friendship, sharing purpose, and much more. Quinn has trademarked Create Your Purpose™ because that is her passion – helping people MAKE their path, not just find it. She has opened the collective to new members and I encourage you to check it out if you’re forging a new business, improving on an existing one, or trying to figure out what to do with your side gig that brings you joy. I know I’m looking forward to benefiting even more from Quinn’s expertise as well as that of dozens of smart, funny, wonderful women in business. Hurry, though! Registration closes this Friday.

Hit me up if you have specific questions – here’s her link to check out…

Fantastic photo shoot by Delight in the Desert Photography 😍

A Well-Read 2019

Before January ends I wanted to do a quick post to celebrate my love of language and storytellers in 2019. I must confess, when smartphones came out I joined millions of others who eschewed books for that hypnotic little screen. It had long been my habit to read before bed each night, but between Twitter, texting, emails and Words With Friends, my annual book count probably dropped to the single digits after 2010.

So embarrassing for someone who claimed to be an aspiring novelist.

In recent years I’ve made a concerted effort to read (and listen) to more books, explore genres outside of my comfort zone, and jump on recs from people whose taste I admire. Audio books were a godsend when I was commuting and I’m so appreciative that my local library offers an online app for audio versions, as well as eBooks. I’m a visual person so I love when an amazing narrator/performer elevates a story from the page to a vivid mind movie.

I will always schedule around Karin Slaughter and John Sandford new releases because nothing else gets done until the last page is turned. Christina Lauren is a romance writing machine that somehow creates new, individual and interesting characters with each new book. Jen Sincero and Brene Brown have articulately helped me steer my life and business these past two years. The last few pages of A Head Full of Ghosts scared the holy crap out of me!

I heard of a funny podcast about murder but I don’t do podcasts. So knowing nothing, I listened to the hosts’ book when it came out and then proceeded to binge three years of My Favorite Murder in mere weeks. Books – the gateway drug to podcasts??

Below is the mostly complete list of books I consumed last year. Lots of thrillers, romance, personal growth and a few memoirs. The majority are written by women and I’m committed to including more diversity in the line-up this year. I thoroughly enjoyed most of them, however there are stars to indicate my personal favorites. Please, let me know in the comments any titles you think that I MUST read in 2020!

2019 book list

Vision 2020 – with a Glance Back

I’m of the school that believes we are beginning a new decade in 2020, if only because it sounds so cool and futuristic. Also because the previous decade was a wild, bumpy ride and I’m looking forward to, well, looking forward! I had to close my art gallery in 2009 and spent the next several years fighting a tremendous sense of failure, but also learning from my mistakes, I hope. Briefly, here are some of the highs and lows from the past 10 years:

  • Got back in the newspaper biz.
  • Won some awards.
  • Wrote a novel-length story that published online.
  • Made new friends and met some of them in Forks, “under a near-constant cover of clouds.”
  • I fell in love – hard.
  • Moved to Arizona.
  • Stepfather passed away.
  • I found a dream job.
  • Had my heart broken. Ouch.
  • My closest cousin took his own life.
  • Mom moved in with us.
  • My sweet nephew took his own life.
  • Sold my house in Colorado.
  • Took several fantastic trips with Lacy around CA, CO, NC, AZ.
  • New baby in the family – such joy!
  • Dad died suddenly.
  • Left dream job to begin my own venture.
  • Mom passed away (much too soon but on her terms).
  • I launched Suzu Creative.

Running through that, I see there was a lot of loss, but I can close my eyes and easily remember all the fun, triumphs, adventures – and gratitude. I’m thankful that my daughter and I are healthy, and that I’ve successfully committed to being there for her by working at home. I truly appreciate all the friends – old and new – that make up my solid support system. And I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner.

Looking ahead to 2020, I’m already aware it’s going to be a year of significant change. In 2019 my business tangibly turned the corner from “I hope I can make this work” to “of course, this is going to be successful,” even if it didn’t always look like I originally envisioned. In fact, some major changes and choices at the end of the year has me mapping out an exciting new direction for Suzu that will include more writing, making art, and advocating for others in the creative sector. Stay tuned!

Personally, my little family is marking the year with big milestones. My baby graduates high school in May and I hyperventilate every time I think about it. My own high school will hold its 40th class reunion and I don’t understand how THAT happened in the blink of an eye! I’m making time to travel more this year, with plans on dividing my time between Arizona and Colorado in the near future now that a school district won’t determine where I live.

And of course, I hope the election in November brings about great change as well, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for Twitter or over multiple glasses of wine with friends.

Ultimately, my 2020 vision is focused on high hopes, new adventures, and making fulfilling connections. I think optimism is a choice and I will always choose to enthusiastically believe in the power of big magic, love, and the creative spirit. Join me, won’t you?