Susie Winton is an Atlanta artist friend. My most vivid memory of her from grad school days is of an early morning when she & I & Cecelia Kane & Susan Cipcic & Julie Stuart & Mitch Lindsey - aka the artist-activist group Stuff & Nonsense - were running around downtown Atlanta, putting up vinyl lettering on empty shopfronts. We had donned hazmat suits modified to look like pig costumes, planned our community-friendly messages in conjunction with local residents' wishes, and gotten a small grant to fund our spiffy, official-looking signs. Our mission had been going surprisingly well. COMING SOON: EMPTY SHOPS MAKE GREAT ARTIST SQUATS. Check. COMING SOON: A DECENT CAFE OPEN AFTER 6. Check. COMING SOON: COMMUNITY HEALTH CLINIC. Check. COMING SOON: REASONABLE RENT. Check. Time before the streets filled was running out. Suddenly, flashing blue lights. Nuts!
With my squirrelly history of speeding tickets, I was rattled. But Susie, unmistakably a Lady, even in a pink-painted full-body hazmat pig-suit with ears, walked up to the police cruiser and spoke calmly and politely with the officers. She told them we were doing an art installation in conjunction with the Downtown Tour of Lofts and Lifestyles, set to begin in a few minutes. This was true: we had been talking with the few pioneers who had started the process of re-inhabiting Atlanta's then-deserted downtown, and they wanted their vision for a livable city to be seen & heard alongside glitzy real-estate developers' promises of urban Paradise. The policemen thanked Susie, and moved on.
So, Susie is a Lady. She is also a wonderful artist, a wildly kind host, and an exemplar of the kind of modesty that lots of people like to talk about, but few embody. We spent some time together in her studio, and Susie told me about her current projects, all related to overlooked elements of daily life & art practice. These include:
When inflation & insecurity come to rattle their cages, I know I'll draw strength from the knowledge of Susie, quietly & masterfully at play in her beautiful space. Free, amused, and curious, I'll know she's there, dancing steadily with all the partners no one else thought to look at twice.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now