Growing up in a military family, Suzanne Betz developed an imaginative life to offset the childhood isolation and instability of frequent relocations. Within her fantasies, horses came forward as companion, spirit, and subject for her youthful drawings. Through her intuitive connection with this independent creature, Suzanne found both strength and liberation, which was channeled into her art. More than just an equestrian, she knew she wanted to be an artist.
Her formal art training began at the Corcoran School of Art (now the Corcoran College of Art & Design) in Washington, D.C., and her early style tended toward abstraction. As the breadth of her subject matter expanded, she held firm to abstract principles. Whether on the East Coast, at her longtime Hawaiian home, or now in the Southwest, Suzanne has worked “from the inside out” in the tradition of artists who struggle to make visible the invisible.
After the dissolution of her marriage, Suzanne somewhat spontaneously settled in Taos. Her new circumstances allowed the purchase of her first horse, a retired polo pony, who became her guide for this new path. The physical and cultural setting of the high-desert community also nurtured a meditative practice and afforded spiritual instruction. Suzanne’s complementary experiences have called upon openness to risk-taking and acceptance of discipline, an outlook that continues to feed her art-making activities.
Her willingness to pull up stakes artistically truly defines her: Suzanne has never been content to linger in any one approach, moving from a brilliant to a subdued palette, from small to large paintings. Her boundless curiosity sparks exploration of processes, techniques, intriguing materials, and experimental constructions. While holding to a central core, her work is energized by the change of terrain, which calls upon the artist to seek new equipoise.
Suzanne uses a painting’s surface as the threshold to a world between or beyond. Without ground or horizon, rich color fields create an ambiguous space to be filled with the viewer’s thoughts or emotional content. Through her command of contour drawing, Suzanne’s paintings embody a presence, and yet any sense of the material is defied by the alluring effects of luminosity and transparency.
With commitment but without attachment, she achieves stylistic agility and accesses the imagery flowing through her consciousness. Concealing as much as revealing, her equine and figurative subjects are arranged in suggestive but illusive narratives or encounters, often with symbolic or totemic forms. Staying light upon the earth, Suzanne’s nomadic sensibility is collective, dreamlike, and gracefully natural.