Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
I love how older ladies carry themselves in Berlin. So composed, so collected, so unafraid.
Working on these relaxed, experimental unterweg drawings has really given me new skills and creativity around handling backgrounds, using pattern to differentiate shapes and dropping in blacks.
I saw this guy during the summer, on the bus that goes to the airport, then found the drawing and finished it just this week.
I’d like to talk more about my work, I’d like to offer more helpful insight into my process, I’d like to be more useful- but this year, this month, this week, it’s just more than I know what to do with right now. I managed to make art this month, and that took all the energy I had.
As a completely non-musical person, they are like sorcerers to me. They possess dynamic energy and their movements are both repetitive and startling. I drew this guy on the U both because I love banjos and because of his young-Frank-Zappa good looks!
These two guys performed at the delightful holiday party for the wonderful company my husband works for. It was at a totally wonderful, secret venue hidden behind a hof full of bins. I’ll get their names after the break, right now everyone is off for the holidays.
I got this pink Santa, with his lavender combat boots, in the 75% off bin at a Beverly’s store in Alameda.
I had to have him, obviously, and I had a vague notion he could hang out with my Snow Queen and her reindeer, when I finished her.
That was in 2014, and I’m hoping to have the Snow Queen done by my 50th birthday on January 8th of 2017. Projects take what they take, it’s fine.
Meanwhile, a couple weeks ago I found these adorable fuchsia flock reindeer at TK Maxx, the German version of TJ Maxx. They were 1,99! Obviously, I was supposed to buy them.
As soon as I got them home I knew they were Pink Gay Santa’s reindeer.
But they needed to be fancified. Ever since I finished my workshop I’ve been tearing through long-unfinished projects, because I have instant access to all my lifelong hoard of materials. Every bit of ribbon I ever saved, every scrap of velvet, every tube of fingernail decals.
I’m like a cross between Smaug and Divine.
I had to use a hacksaw on Santa’s base to fit him into the sleigh, then build the fur trim on his coat to fit the sleigh with epoxy clay.
I feel like she really opened my eyes and my heart to the idea that art could be both silly and mysterious, glittery and meaningful, pink and terrifying.
I love her work for showing me serious art can be completely covered in Swarovski crystals and fake fur, and for its mythic stories and secret chambers of hilarious fucked-upness.
I got on Instagram recently, and starting following her and other “Pop Surrealist” or “modern Outsider” artists. I found Mab Graves, who also makes pink things that are scary, and can both draw superbly and sculpt/make/craft. I discovered the astonishing work of Caitlin McCormack, who crochets skeletal creatures out of dissolving lacy thread. I get to keep up with the work of Jessica Joslin, an art hero of mine for years.
I’ve been finding a web of validation and confidence in the work of women artists who are successful making art that is both pretty and hideous, cute and political.
I’ve had so much to do the last couple months, and I’ve been so shaken by the terrible events in the US.
I fell into the sweetness and hope and joy of this project like it was a feather bed. Doing anything else felt overwhelming. Though of course I did a lot anyway.
I’ve felt that my job as a working artist who simply does some work, any work, was so essential these last five weeks.
Maybe it’s foolish to think art matters at such a precarious time, but you know, I live in Berlin.
I’ve felt a deep desire to renew my commitment and lifelong work of supporting visibility for the “othered”. I want to spend 2017 documenting queer and trans life with more beauty and tenderness than ever. I know how much the work of the Weimar artists mattered, and I am inspired to try and matter too.
Fearless Pink Gay Santa is a vision of hope and love, the Santa I pray will land lightly on a million roofs this year. He is photographed with one of my mom’s beautiful crochet pieces!
His list holds “Safety”, “Freedom to Love”, “Marriage Equality”, “Health Care”, “Kids”, and space for other things.
I’m mostly just an ally; I can’t know what LGBTQIA people are putting on their wish lists this year. I’ll be listening, though.
I started working on this project after the tragedy of the US election.
This piece is about how our love and passion and true, yearning hearts are indelible, unsurrendered.
I had no idea when I started it how it would be transformed by fire. I was already so desperately, wildly grateful to be here, to have escaped the unbearable precarity and pressure of Bay Area living.
“I feel like we were pulled from a burning building”, I wrote in my journal just two weeks before the Ghost Ship fire.
There has been a terrible tragedy in the artist community in Oakland. We lived there for years, and it could have been any of us, or any of our friends, any time.
The situation is devastating and unbearable. We could barely save ourselves from it; we needed every ounce of help our community could give to get to a far safer home in Germany. And yet all the strength, all the great love in my heart, is bound up with our loved ones there, and I yearn to see them safe too.
I made this heart and frame and framed two others while I was thinking about that fierce love we have for each other and our work.
It is a prayer that we can fight to keep doing what we must, despite the election results, despite everything. A prayer for our community to find the strength to keep going in the new USA.
The Oakland Ghost Ship Fire is a synecdoche. It is what it is, and it is everything about the life of artists in the United States.
The older generation of artists and musicians is dying at a shocking, anguishing rate this year.
We must save every single one we can of the new generations. All I can do is help you with bureaucracy if you move to Berlin- but I will help with that! Come to our house for a moving-to-Berlin workshop on New Year’s Day, if you’re in Germany for CCC.
People are creating fantastic tools to help people take action to become safer in DIY spaces. These tools are priceless.
Please remember, though, that the disabled, the disenfranchised, the traumatized, the depressed, the sick, are limited in how much they can use tools.
We do our very best, always; we’re exhausted, not lazy.
Those who are feeling stronger can help by setting up support teams and buddy sessions to facilitate making spaces safer.
It’s always easier to deal with someone else’s problems; make a commitment to help a friend go over their space for risk factors. Ask a friend to role-play negotiating with a scary landlord with you. Form a triad of mutual support and meet weekly with two friends to work on your safety action list.
Understand that those who are fighting daily to survive need help to do anything more than they’re already doing.
“People will always seek what spaces like Ghost Ship offer,” Aaron Muszalski, an artist who has spent the past two decades living and working in warehouses across the Bay Area. “What we need are solutions that don’t seek to eradicate these spaces, but which allow them to come safely into the light and support them economically in becoming safer and more accountable — something that is impossible so long as we pretend they don’t exist.”
I copied the idea of making a frame from a candy-box heart lined with velvet from my beloved friend-muse-Patron Monique Motil. She does it with far more richness, beauty and mystery than my little attempts; you can see her mandala-form meditations on love and death in heart-shaped boxes here. I find them deeply consoling and spiritual.
That means it belongs to you, but not to Urban Outfitters! You’re welcome to use it for your holiday cards, adapt for your coffee-shop chalkboard, print on a t-shirt or cloth napkin, whatever, under the license terms. (just leave my signature on the image and don’t be a dick.) Daria did the word balloon cause she’s amazing at text!