SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF MORE RECENT HAPPENINGS
In May 2014, my photo collage “Psychedelic Pier” was on exhibit in the juried art show ”Photography Writing With Light” at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto, CA. I won 1st Place in Photography at the Santa Cruz County Fair 2014 for “Hawaiian Santa Cruz”. My photographs have been on the cover of the Santa Cruz County Bar Association’s Membership Directory, four years in a row: July 2014 – June 2015, July 2015 – June 2016, July 2016 – June – 2017 and the latest issue July 2017 – June 2018.
Two of my photo collages “Springtime Casino” and “Red Flower Lighthouse” were chosen to be included in the “Hidden Treasure Art Magazine Yearbook 2015”. In April 2015, two of my photo collages “Springtime Casino” and “Surfer’s Paradise” were in the juried art show “Spring is in the Air” at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto, CA. “Springtime Casino” won an Honorable Mention.
At the Santa Cruz County Fair 2015, I was awarded an Honorable Mention in Professional Photography for “Capitola at Sunset”.
In March 2016, my mixed media painting “Springtime” was on exhibit in the juried art show “Fur, Feathers and Fins” at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto, CA. My Santa Cruz photo collages were on display at the Om Gallery in Santa Cruz during the month of August 2016. And in October 2016, my paintings and photo collages were exhibited at Nut Kreations, also in Santa Cruz. From October 22 – November 13, 2016, my acrylic painting “Descent Into Madness (with Purple Hope)” was on display at the Santa Cruz Art League in the juried art show called “Energy & Stillness: A National Abstract Exhibit”. From Jan. 6, 2017 – Feb. 5, 2017 my photo collage called “Colorful Evening Boardwalk” was in the membership show at the Santa Cruz Art League. Also, my painting entitled “The Earth is Flat” can now be viewed in a virtual art gallery at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnk_1S2G-oE&feature=youtube. And I have a page at Artist Info that can be seen at: https://www.artistsinfo.co.uk/artist/susan-kessler. From Aug. 4-24, 2017 my photo collage called “Redwood Tree Lighthouse at Sunset” will be on display in the juried art exhibition entitled “Science, Technology & The Future of Art” at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto, CA. Soon, I will have more exciting news to share with all of you.
There have been many past awards over the years from juried art shows and the Santa Cruz County Fair. Also, in the “Guide” section of the Santa Cruz Sentinel May 30 – June 5, 2013, I was one of the featured artists. The newspaper article can be seen toward the bottom of the last page in my Blog.
MY ARTISTIC AWAKENING
I grew up in Southern California, actually the San Fernando Valley in a city called Granada Hills. I guess you could say I was a “Valley Girl” before that movie ever came out. And no, we didn’t talk like that. As far back as I can remember, my favorite times always had to do with art.
When I was 14 years old, I entered a paper dress contest called “Paper Caper” sponsored by Montgomery Wards. A couple of girls at my Junior High School who were enrolled in the “Wendy Ward Charm Center” at the store located in Panorama City, were selling the green paper dresses for $1.00 each. It was sort of like the old “Handi-Wipe” type of paper, thicker than a paper towel. Anyway, there was a pattern drawing imprinted on the green paper for both the front and back of the dress. The first thing that needed to be done was to cut out the pattern, then, try to figure out the best way to design it. There were a few rules that had to be followed, like no staples, etc. Nine Southern California stores participated in the same contest. I believe we had a couple of weeks to design our dresses. Then there was a fashion show at each one of the stores, put on by the charm center. Even though I wasn’t enrolled in the class, I was still able to participate in the contest. Not only did we model our paper dresses, they also wanted us to model one of their dresses sold in their stores and for doing this, we got to keep the dress we chose to model in. The girls from the charm center already knew how to walk like a model, but I did not. I had a crash course in modeling before I did my part in the show.
I had decided to paint swallow-tailed butterflies all over the dress. The black and yellow looked really pretty up against the green color of the dress. Using a darker color of green paint between the butterflies, I poured the paint on the dress and then used a straw to blow the paint in different directions. It turned out really good. Believe it or not, I won the contest in the Panorama City store! I was so excited! The prize was a trip to the Teenage Fair at the Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, CA. It took place during the week of Easter vacation. Nowadays, they call it spring break, and Junior High is now called Middle School, so this gives my age away a little bit.
There would be another contest held there. I was now competing with the eight winners of the other stores. The catch was, the store had a sales booth set up there to sell their paper dresses, and we had to model them like mannequins. They had these little round stages that actually turned around slowly as we posed without moving. Different colored lights were shinning on us. A lot of teenage boys really tried to make us laugh, but we were pretty good at not letting them distract us too much. Because we were all winners from each store, we also got to go on the rides for free when we weren’t modeling.
I remember standing on the round, turning, little stage and hearing the “Turtles” singing on the big stage. I wish I could have seen them, but I was working. When it was time for the contest, the band that was supposed to judge us was unavailable, so the “Nitty Gritty Dirt Band” said they would do it. We were taken outside where the rides were and went up on a big stage. They asked us questions about the designs of our dresses, how long it took, etc. After they deliberated a few minutes, they started by announcing the third place winner and it wasn’t me. Then the second place winner; and again, it wasn’t me. I was feeling a little sad; because I really, really wanted to win, but I just knew they were going to call someone else’s name. I couldn’t believe it when they actually said I had won first place! I was in shock. Before the paper dress contest, I’d never won anything in my life. The prize was a little black and white television set, although it wasn’t given to me that day.
A few days later, I got a call from the charm center director, asking me to come down to the store. There was a photographer from the newspaper there and that’s when I was given the television set. The next day; my picture, along with the director and the merchandise manager, was in the newspaper with an article about my experience. A lot of people at school saw it. The newspaper got one thing wrong though, they called it a paper blouse contest. I guess because they were mini dresses. Oh well!
At that time in my life, my home life wasn’t real good. My parents were getting divorced, etc. Having had such an exciting thing happen to me, really gave me a new outlook on life. Nowadays, a black and white television set wouldn’t be worth anything; but back then, it was quite a big deal! It was a wonderful experience in a time of a lot of turmoil. I’m so grateful to have been a part of the whole thing!
I guess I’ve always had a creative nature about me, and it’s finally come full circle with the selling of my art, recognition from my peers and my own website. I thank God for everything he has given to me; including and especially, my wonderful and supportive family and friends.