Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Suzanne Anan. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Polar Opposites in Belmar

When I first saw Suzanne’s beach life paintings in a group show at the Parlor Gallery, I fell in love with them. They were not your typical “Jersey Shore Beach Art”. You know, the typical “Sunsets and Sailboats”, they were snapshots of beach moments and the lifeguard life of Belmar beach. Not sure what I mean? Close your eyes and imagine being kicking back on the beach reading this on a busy, hot and steamy Saturday in late July. What do you see? You see a Suzanne Anan painting! However, the next time Suzanne was in a Parlor show, I saw a completely different side of Suzanne’s work, a more dark, romantic, sensually strong poetic side with the subject based on her favorite poems and literature.

Tell me about your art background.

In my younger years, I enjoyed drawing. A health issue kept me home and I found comfort spending my days drawing to my heart’s content. In college, I earned a BFA from Kean University with a concentration in Design. My last class was an elective for painting. It was a first level course in stretching canvases and mixing paint

After graduation, I longed to find purpose for art making. I was managing a group of designers at the Asbury Park Press. Shortly thereafter, I wound up taking a position at the Star-Ledger as an illustrator/designer. I was not getting enough creativity managing others and this position. I decided on a whim to apply for a master’s degree at NYU in a study abroad program in Venice, Italy. I knew it would be a stretch to get accepted being that I lacked a formal fine art background in painting. I didn’t let it stop me. I poured my whole heart into my cover letter and sent my application off with art samples. It was a long and agonizing wait but, I was accepted. Now the real trick was explaining to my boss that I was leaving a job I loved for two years to live in Italy to pursue a master’s degree. It was the best experience of my life!

What inspires you?

I get so inspired from reading poetry. There is usually one line in a poem that captures my attention and I turn it into a painting. For example, for my painting, “The Terrace in the Snow” I took inspiration from the last lines of a Chinese poem by Su Tung P’O, “The icicles on the eves, drone in the wind like the swords of murderers”. Another example, “The Dark Night” inspiration came from a poem by St. John of the Cross, “I stood and forgot who I was, my face leaning against Him, everything stopped, abandoned me, my worldliness was gone, forgotten among the white lilies.”

You paint in two completely different content styles with the beach pieces and the more poetic pieces. Do you find you paint more of the lifeguard / beach scenes in the summer?

I find myself completely absorbed with summer living. Yes, my attention is completely focused on what surrounds me. I am in progress of creating several scenes of the shore, lifeguards and all the beauty and colors associated with these very vivid scenes. I have so many images in my head that I hope to have enough time in my life to get them all out.

Being a Monmouth County artist, what would you like to see happen in our county art community?

I would like to see a Monmouth County artist network or database created. One that lists your skill, your location, your style of art and your interest in work or volunteering. Whether or not you would like to donate or receive work for payment, this is a great opportunity for collaboration. For example, I volunteer and give away almost as much as I get paid. Personally, I try to keep that balance. There are many an occasion that people ask me about a mural artist or, perhaps a portrait painter, maybe someone specifically who would volunteer for Liz’ Linen’s or Mary’s Place to help a 501c3 create a portrait of a sick loved one, or a mural in someone’s bedroom who is convalescing. This type of project could be part of a volunteer organization’s budget, who fundraised to fulfill their mission. Another example would be mentoring younger artists. This type of one-stop network can build a stronger community of volunteerism and a great source for future prospects for work.