People often ask us where we find our artists, and up until recently, the answer has always been word-of-mouth, art publications, art shows, other gallerists and various reputable referrals. Now we can add one more unexpected source to the list: a Huffington daughter! Who knew that a biomedical engineer from Georgia Tech would bond with a sorority sister who just happened to have a very talented artist mother, whose work Christie saw one day and said, “Mom, you need to carry this artist!” Of course we couldn’t just take Christie’s word for it, and with a little more information, and lots more work from Barbara Sussberg, we all agreed that the artist’s clean, tonal, modern and heavily filtered palette-knife work would be a great fit for the gallery.
We’ve loved Barbara’s work but we’ve also loved the personal connection, and her story of dealing with life’s unexpected curve balls, that led this ex-New Yorker turned Southerner to jump from VP and Creative Director for an Interior Textiles Firm to painter, eleven years ago.
It’s a great story, and we think you’d like to hear it in Barbara’s words (and yes, she was a journalism major!):
“I spent 20+ years as the head of design for the textile weaving and printing company my grandfather had founded in the 1920’s. I joined the firm after having learned retail buying at one of the major NYC department stores. Before that I spent a year in Paris, learning the high end French interior design market and developing my great love and appreciation for the impact of color.
We lived on Central Park West, life was good.
After many many booming years, globalization hit the American Manufacturing world and much of our industry was completely wiped out from top to bottom.
Eventually my husband, our daughter Sam and our 2 long haired dachshunds Charlie & Simon decided to do something very rare for people born and bred in NY: We pitched our entire life and started over in a completely different environment.
We knew people in the Atlanta area who convinced us to move there and all of a sudden I found myself in Peachtree City Ga in a huge house on a lake.
My new neighbors teased me that it was a little like the 1970’s TV show “Greenacres” where Eva Gabor moved from Park avenue to a farm. I couldn’t stop the old NYC rushing but I had nowhere to go! When the garage door repair man “blessed my heart” because I had backed completely through the closed door while rushing to get to a spinning class, I knew life had really really changed, and I needed to also.
The noise from the crickets bothered me, I was used to the sound of the M-10 bus. Wherever I went people smiled, waved, nodded their heads, and all I could think was “WHATS going on? WHY are these people being SO NICE? WHAT do they want from me?” It took a little while for me to realize that people are just plain nice in the South.
So I made a list of all the things I had always wanted to do but never had time for in my crazy, busy old life:
- Slow down, be where you are!
- Learn to cook
- Learn to grow vegetables and roses
- Play golf
- Try yoga
- Speak more French
- Learn to paint
… And I fell in love with painting.
I took lessons and workshops and plein air painting trips to France and Italy. It was hard. I almost quit a hundred times. But eventually I started to develop my own voice and techniques.”
After their daughter (Sam) graduated from Georgia Tech, Barbara and her husband decided they missed city living, and moved to the historic downtown of Charleston SC where she paints from a studio in her home, with two large easels on an old beat up Stark rug she brought from her NYC dining room. The couple recently bought a summer cottage in Maine, and her studio is in an old lobsterman’s workshop with a view of the sea, where she is inspired by the reflection of light on the water.
HH: What music do you listen to when you paint?
I always have music on in my studio, anything from Baroque chamber music to jazz to the B-52’s depending on the inspiration I need that particular day.
HH: What is your technique and how has it evolved over time?
I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the science of color and mixing my own. It’s the first thing I think about when I’m starting a new painting. I paint in layers, building up thick texture, scraping and removing as I go along, allowing the layers to dry in between. I paint with large palette knives and rags. There’s no question my background in textile design has had a big influence on my painting technique.
HH: Artists that inspire you? JMW Turner, Helen Frankenthaler, Esteban Vicente
HH: City you love to visit? Paris
HH: Favorite place to live? Paris
HH: Your go-to museum? Guggenheim, Met Breuer, Musee D’Orsay
HH: Painting that you wish you owned? Eric Fischl “False Gods”
HH: Movie you could watch over and over? “Something’s Gotta Give” with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson
HH: Song that puts you in a happy mood? Earth, Wind and Fire “Let’s Groove”
HH: Fictional (or real) dinner guests? Iris Apfel
HH: Favorite restaurant? Any good old fashioned NYC Chinese
HH: Guilty pleasure? A lobster roll
Barbara recently sent us some new work that we love, called “Sam’s Point I and II.” We asked her about them and she said they were inspired by her daughter, which is why they’re called “Sam’s Point” – a little play on words.
“I had just started some new canvases when Samantha came home for Thanksgiving holidays. She walked into my studio took a look and said “MOM, don’t do much more!!!!! JUST add some light reflection and think of them as a pair, they would be so beautiful in one of those big houses in Atlanta!!!”
At first I thought she was a little crazy, then as I started to look at them through her big green eyes I realized she was absolutely right, making an excellent point and taking me in a new even more abstract direction.”
The things we learn from our daughters! Here’s Barbara Sussberg, and the two beautiful girls that introduced her to Huff Harrington Fine Art!