Saturday, October 12, 2013


The first time we saw Susan's print of "Cordia's Rose" we were hooked on becoming photography collectors. It was on a trip to Santa Fe at a time when money meant very little to us. Life was rich. We worked hard as only youth can do. All-nighters were a part of the price you paid for a room next to Don Imus at the La Fonda hotel just off the square in Santa Fe. We stuffed ourselves on lime and tequila prawns, got naked in the communal hot tub at Ten Thousand Waves, and walked the art galleries on Canyon Road from one end to the next. It was here that we discovered The Platinum Gallery run by John Stevenson. John dealt in photography but specialized in platinum prints signed and in limited editions by world famous artists. John wore his passion on his sleeve. He knew everything there was to know about photography and his eye for quality was impeccable. He described the richness in tone of platinum printing in such colorful descriptive language it was hard not fall in love with the works he hung on his walls at the gallery.
We spent hours with John picking out the beginnings of our collection. The vintage prints were out of our price range but there were plenty of contemporary artists to pick from and at the top of our list was "Cordia's Rose" by Susan Johann. The purchase brought us in contact with the artist and this began an almost 30 year relationship with Susan, her family and us.
Since then we have purchased several additional works by Susan and two years ago hosted an opening of her work at our store in Madison.
Susan is currently finishing up a book of photography on American playwrights but her recent body of work is a series of flowers all shot in a tiny Tiffany box. The prints are large. They blow the scale of the box and its contents to gargantuan size yet the delicacy of the tiny blooms is not lost by this but enhanced, making what you might not see visible.
The veining of a leaf, the golden hint of decay on the edge of a petal, the touch of pollen on the tip of a stamen are all made easier for the eye to feel.
Each of Susan's images rests on a field of black just outside the sliver of Tiffany blue announcing the upper edge of the Tiffany box.
There's something about the aqua blue of a Tiffany box that lifts the pedestrian to elegant. In Susan's photos the box isn't lit from within which makes the box fade into darkness leaving the rim to define the box. But it's this rounded edge and its aqua blue color that are so universally understood you immediately connect its contents with everything that is Tiffany and sophistication.
Each of Susan's blooms becomes a precious jewel gift-wrapped for our astonishment. They become diamond necklaces, precious jewels or a string of pearls.
Throughout the years Tiffany has designed broaches and pins to replicate the beauty of nature with precious stones.
Susan's approach to beauty only borrows the box to lift her incredible flowers to the height of million dollar jewels.
Life presents us with exquisite beauty. Every time I look at Susan's work I feel like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" as Richard Gere opens that box of jewelry. There's a squeal of such joy. That's the squeal of seeing something that sparkles while lighting up your mind.
Go to Susan Johann's website to see more of her Tiffany series.

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