Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"Don't Wear Beige, it might kill you."

A Visit with the High Priestess
of Artistic Excess

DESPITE the fact that Richard and I do practice some rites of minimalism (white walls, for example), Sue Kreitzman, the High Priestess of Artistic Excess, welcomed us to her studio this past Sunday. After all, along with her warning never to wear beige due to its deleterious effects on one's well being, she also eschews "minimalism like the plague."

But we are not strict minimalists. How could you call someone who did paintings with thousands of colors, like Richard did, a minimalist? So we were able to keep our footing quite nicely when entering Sue's studio (or her Flop House) in the Washington Heights area of New York City where we quickly became intoxicated with her extravagant and vibrant display of art.
Sue is an artist, curator and art collector. Ari Seth Cohen, author and photographer for the blog and book, Advanced Style, introduced us to Sue. We have met so many terrific people through Advanced Style

For someone who is now so completely immersed in an artistic life, it is worth noting that Sue was not always an artist. She had another life as a famous cookbook author and globe-trotting television personality.
 Sue as a celebrity cook, and
below, one of her
best-selling cookbooks.
As Sue tells it, one day 15 years ago, she was contentedly proofreading her 27th cookbook, when her hand strayed to a marker on her table and an innocent scrap of paper. As if an alien spirit had seized her, she drew a mermaid with a snake head on the paper. Voila! Sue, completely untrained as an artist, was now on the road to a life of art. And she would never look back. 
Sue in her studio, as she
greeted us on Sunday.
 If you are looking for labels,
you could call Sue's work
"Outsider Art," since she did not go to art school.
Women are her subject matter.
Sue creates assemblage sculptures
from found objects which
she assiduously collects.
 Some 30 years ago, Sue and her family moved to
London for her husband's job.
She still lives there, but spends
about 3 months in New York each year.
While here, she makes jewelry like this
Betty Boop mermaid necklace.
I love the No. 1 RICH perfume bottle.
 Sue uses mannequins and dolls as the base
for her assemblages.
They often take on super heroine
This one has the appearance of 
a firefly on acid.
 In the church of Female Worship
one might genuflect to
this orange centipediste.
 This lovely lady cannot rid herself of
her mother, who has implanted herself
in her skull.
Sue often begins a work with a
story in mind.
However, she says the work soon
takes on a life of its own.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil 
and wear red!
Sue wears her art as well.
Here she models a coat of her own design.
Judith Boyd, who blogs at The Style Crone, joined us
for the visit to Sue's studio.
Judith is wearing one of my hats.

 After our studio visit, we walked across the hall
 to the apartment where Sue lives
while in New York.
The apartment walls serve to display
Sue's collection of
works by other artists.
 Sue's kitchen with a view of
the Hudson River.
Sue lives in Castle Village, an apartment enclave
perched on Manhattan's highest point
in Washington Heights.
 Sue's living room with a breathtaking view of the
George Washington Bridge.

 A painting by
Karin van der Plas.
Catalogs from exhibitions Sue has curated in London.
As we leave Sue's world,
we pass through the beautiful
Castle Village lobby which
has not been painted red and yellow,
as yet... by Sue.

Thank you, Sue Kreitzman,
for being you and for
inviting us to your studio!

À Bientôt.


  1. I imagine one can spend days just looking at everything in her apartment. Reminds me a bit of Vreeland's red apartment.

  2. What a fantastic post Carol. I'm so sorry I didn't get to visit Sue's studio but you've provided a brilliant virtual tour. Good to meet you and Richard the other day. Let's keep in touch, Alyson

    1. Thanks, Alyson. Yes, we will definitely keep in touch.

  3. A wonderful post about a wonderful artist. I'm so inspired by her living room!

  4. She is right, Beige anything will kill us!!! Love your hats Carol. Im taking a Millinery class with Wayne Wichern in Calif this month, reignighting my passion for hats! Thanks for the tour of her studio and home. So inspiring! I may have to get some wall painted this year.
    -Celtic Lass-

  5. A brilliant post of a magical day! It was a honor to be at Sue's studio and apartment with you and Richard, and to wear the hat that you made. It has made its debut in Denver, on New Year's Eve, and was greatly appreciated.

  6. What an awesome lady...her world of color is enchanting.