Tag Archives: Suzanne Forbes

January 2020 unterwegs!

Unterwegs with Stella Ahangi and Brigitta Kuesgen Jan 20 2020 by Suzanne ForbesWell, actually only two January unterwegs and one mystery underwegs!

I met lovely ladies on the S-Bahn!

The city always has a gift. I went across town to see House of Living Colors‘ Endangered Species show at Sophiensaele, but there were no tickets available. However, on the S-Bahn I met these glamorous ladies, who were heading to Alex for their event at Berlin Fashion Week.

The lady with the hat is Stella Ahangi, the powerhouse creative behind Club der Glamourösen Exzentriker. Apparently they have Glam Walks with lots of stylish older people, that start right by our house!! The lady with the blue hair is Brigitta Kuesgen.

Unterwegs with headphones and phones Jan 10 2020 by Suzanne ForbesThe scene above is from my travels to Kay’s t-birthday party.

I am always fascinated by the rhythms of machine-usage, like this group of people: headphones phone, headphones phone, phone, headphones!

Unterwegs with book and phones Jan 20 2020 by Suzanne ForbesThe one above is the mystery unterwegs.

When I first saw it in the sketchbook last week, I had no memory at all of drawing it. When I set to work to finish it, some vague recall came back: it was on one of the new buses, and I remember being fascinated by how much the reader had going on, clothes-wise. Those wooden toggle buttons on her canvas coat! Her hat! But when it happened, where I was going, whether it was early last spring or early last Fall – I have no idea.

You can see hundreds more unterwegs drawings celebrating life on Berlin’s public transit system here. All unterwegs drawings are courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!

First event of 2020 – a private party at Maze for Kay’s T-Birthday!

My pov at Kays birthday party Jan 9 2020 by Suzanne ForbesMy friend Sadie’s co-parent Kay invited me to his T-Birthday party.

It was my first time at a t-birthday! And I got to see someone get their first testosterone shot too, isn’t that cool? Lots of Berlin queer legends were in effect, that’s Laura Méritt of the PorYes Awards dancing above.

I asked the guy sitting next to me if he knew Kay and was there for the party. No, he said, he was here with his friend to talk to the club about hiring the space, and they decided to have a beer. “This is the third beer…” he said. Everyone in Berlin is wearing berets lately!

Kay at his 11th T birthday party Jan 9 2020 by Suzanne ForbesHere is the birthday boy, in his first outfit!

He wore multiple looks during the event of course.

Kaey performs at Kays birthday party Jan 9 2020 by Suzanne ForbesThe MC was lovely Kaey, in the most incredible Space Invaders graphic houndstooth dress.

She sang a tender version of “Creep” for all us weirdoes 🙂

Ceven performs at Kay birthday party Jan 9 2020 by Suzanne ForbesI saw Ceven perform for the first time since he began his drag journey.

He slipped out of a bunny onesie (he’s in the drawing below), then a flight suit!Crowd at Kays birthday party Jan 9 2020 by Suzanne Forbes

I was drawing loose and sketchy, because the light was mostly red light and fog machine.

And I was squished up with the beret guy and his friend on a squishy low couch. My pens kept falling between us and then I had to fish them out from under his butt.

The underground brick vault of a club, Maze, used to be BangBang, and before that it was legendary Queer Berlin homespace Schwuz. Schwuz is now a huge fancy place, but Kay and Sadie remember the basement days 🙂 and I was mistaken for Nina Hagen in the courtyard.

Kay P Rinha performs at Kays birthday party Jan 9 2020 by Suzanne ForbesThis is performer Kay P. Rinha, shaking it tough!

There were many Kays last night, and they were all amazing.

I was able to be there and document them because of my Patrons. As a queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me working and releasing my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

 

 

For the archives: My queer gaze, as expressed in pinups.

Pinup of flapper Spring 1982 or 3 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI was always drawing pretty women, as a teen.

I was inspired by the great illustrators, like Alphonse Mucha and Maxfield Parrish, then by SF artists – by sixteen my bedroom was wallpapered with Boris Vallejo- and then by the comic artists who were known for their “Good Girl Art”, which does not mean art of good girls.

I believe the golfing flapper above dates from Spring 1983, when I had dropped out of Stuyvesant and was taking fashion illustration classes at The Art Student’s League of New York, waiting to be old enough to matriculate at Parsons. Before I discovered comics in Fall 1984, I wanted to be a newspaper fashion illustrator, which was a total real job then!

This drawing of a futuristic sex worker, in an imagined 2001, is probably from late 1982 or early 1983.

I can date most of my old drawings pretty well by what I had learned of my craft at that point! This drawing shows the street-hustling sex worker (although that term didn’t exist then) checking in with her boss via a little Bluetooth type headset, and dosing herself with drugs via a push-button in her hand that goes to her arm. Not a judgment – I just knew a lot of sex workers who were junkies in my teens, and I thought it would be nice if it was convenient for them. It looks like I designed it to be safe and prevent overdoses.

This bondage girl is from later 1984.

I think it may have been one of the portfolio drawings I used to get into Parsons – you were supposed to do an illustration from a book and I did The Story of O. Yup, I got into Parsons School of Design with a GED and a bunch of smutty pinups.

Fetish pinup drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes Oct 29 1986This one, from 1986, was probably drawn as a present for my friend Chris Claremont.

Because it’s signed. I didn’t sign most work until the 90s, except when giving it as a gift. Why didn’t I sign my art? Because it wasn’t good enough to meet my own standards yet most of the time. It didn’t look like what I saw in my head yet.

And I was really IN the process of learning to get better, and really just working the process. Some days I still am!

I am incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

Until today, no modern media record of these drawings existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

 

 

More Carnivorous Plant Art!

Carnivorous flowering alien plant in glass dome by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2019Still rolling on the creative high of this theme!

This large flowering alien carnivorous alien plant is made of marbled shades of green Sculpey, mixed with 40% translucent Sculpey to let some light through, and the teeth are made of translucent Sculpey mixed with white Sculpey Bake-and-Bend. I ran the floral wire stems of the Audreiis through ready-made plastic succulents, added “silk” flowers leaves, and wrapped everything together with floral tape.

Then I drilled a hole into the wood base to hold the stem. You can see a little bit of not-yet-painted Apoxie Sculpt where I filled in the gap in the base intended for fairy light wire. I’m quite happy with this creature and I’m keeping it for our house. Creepalicious right???Carnivorous plant fascinators by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2019 set of four

I also made four fascinator hats, using the sculpted Venus Flytraps, “silk” leaves, velvet, fleece, felt and trims.

I stuck everything together with my favorite textile glue, UHU Alleskleber (which is similar to Quick Grab/Quick Grip in the States).

They have little satin garter tabs at the back, to put a bobby pin through for extra stability.

The wires at the bases of the plants go through a hole pierced in the fascinator base and are spiraled, glued down and covered with felt. I hate the idea of something I make not holding up to wear!

I put two up for sale, one goes in my birthday party art giveaway, and I’m keeping one. 25€ from each sale went to Give Something Back to Berlin, an organization supporting refugees.

Carnivorous plant fascinator by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2019 burgundyThe one above sold to a lovely collector of my work who is giving it as a gift – it makes me so happy, as did making the donation to GSBTB!

Carnivorous alien plants by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2019And I made potted Alien Carnivorous Plants!

I used ceramic pots, tinfoil as filler/stabilizer, spackle/glue on top and some very, very old ground cover from the “California Missions” kits sold in CA craft stores.

One of these was sold to a friend who collects my work, for a Christmas gift for his hubby! The other is going in the art giveaway I’m having on my birthday.

Carnivorous alien plant by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2019I also wanted to donate art to the charity raffle for Jews!Jews!Jews!, a wonderful burlesque show created by Lolita Vavoom and Nana Schewitz, which celebrates Jews and Jew-adjacent performers.

I thought a fascinator might not be as universal an item as a freestanding plant that wants to eat your face. And I was a little worried about the fragility of a plant in a pot during a club night.

Carnivorous alien plants in domes by Suzanne Forbes Dec 2019So, Alien Venus Flytrap in a tube!

The domes are plastic, but they look quite nice and cause me much less stress than using glass. Some lucky raffle winner will take one of these creepers home tonight. Sleep well, raffle winner!!

This has been such a fun and refreshing little Alien Plant Party, and I hope you have enjoyed it as well. The previous posts are here and here!

 

December 2019 Unterwegs: Buff Gay Lovebirds and Cannibal Kids!

Child eats dads head unterwegs by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2019I saw this sweet family on the bus one night recently.

Apparently, when you have a child, they sometimes try to eat your head. And the child’s mother thinks it’s funny, so there’s no help there.

Buff lovebirds on the U Bahn by uzanne Forbes Dec 2 2019I saw these buff sweethearts on the subway this summer, then the drawing languished unfinished til December!

They were happy to pose and I gave them my card, I hope they‘re not disappointed it took a while to get posted!

I am so grateful that the monthly financial support of my Patreon Patrons makes it possible for me to document Berlin people like this.

I believe these people and their stories matter, and I’m able to make these drawings and share them because I’m crowdfunded and can be flexible in managing my limited resources. Click here to help, for as little as a dollar/euro per month.

J, who fights to save our free expression online.

jillian by Suzanne Forbes Dec 17 2019We are blessed to have friends who do important work around freedom of speech.

One of them stopped by to pose today! You can visit onlinecensorship.org to learn about how to fight platform censorship, and join Electronic Frontier Foundation to help protect all our digital civil liberties.

Thank you, always, to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to document Berlin culture and people.

For the archives: self-portraits from the 80s.

Self portrait with Gix 1981 or 1982 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis is a deep dive, my darlings.

Pretty freaky to look at and handle these drawings. They have been in storage for decades, traveling the US and the world with me. The one above is the oldest. It’s a picture of me and my friend Gix, drawn probably winter 1982. I would have been fifteen and Gix seventeen. We are both wearing clothes and jewelry we actually wore at the time, and smoking, as we did, all the time. For the Europeans reading this, the header comes from a saying attributed to P.T. Barnum:

There’s a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.

Self portrait Spring 1984 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis one is from Spring 1984; I believe it is the self-portrait I drew for my Parsons application, or the study for it.

I wore harem pants a lot in the first half of the 80s. I don’t apologize; they were the only form of pants I ever liked. My husband and I are watching the first season of “The Deuce” and last night Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character was wearing earrings exactly like the ones I am wearing in this drawing, which were silver and turquoise, with hawks on them.

Self portrait in Betsey Johnson style dress by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes circa 1985This is from around 1985, I think.

The dress here is very similar to a flowered, corseted Betsey Johnson dress I owned, although drawn much longer, and the drawing is probably a school assignment.

Self portrait Spring 1986 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesThis is from Spring 1986.

I was a sophomore in the Illustration Program at Parsons and chipping, which means using heroin only on weekends. The still-life below, a 1986 class assignment, is also sort of a self-portrait; it’s my cigarettes and my pipe (people used to smoke heroin, no idea if they still do). Clean and sober 30 years this past January 27, babies!Pipe drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes 1986

And this one below is also from late 1986, or early 1987, I believe. Self portrait at 312 w 20th st drawing by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes probably Fall 1986 or winter 1987

You can see some painted self-portraits from when I was newly sober and first learning to paint here in another archive post.

I am incredibly grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

Until today, no modern media record of these drawings existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

 

Last Days of Ludwig, part one: the people.

Folx at the Last Ludwig Night by Suzanne Forbes Dec 5 2019To become part of a community is to open the door to loss.

Community is fluid, like gender, like cities. A local business becomes a hub of connection and expression, and then economic forces make that business unsustainable. Ludwig was a bar, an art gallery, a performance space, a clubhouse for Queer Berliners. It existed from 02.06.16 to 21.09.19. And it was located in a rapidly gentrifying area where construction has overshadowed street access for the last several years.

Singer at the Last Ludwig Night by Suzanne Forbes Dec 5 2019You don’t know sad til you’ve heard a trans girl sing “Send in the Clowns” on the last night of one of the safest spaces you’ve ever known.

Everyone tried to save Ludwig, but it’s not always possible to keep things. Running a business is brutally hard on small business owners, and when we love those people, when they’re artists and part of our community, we want them to be saved too, not used up fighting economic and structural factors. It’s a story that happens every day in every city, and it breaks our hearts.

Transophonix at the Last Ludwig Night by Suzanne Forbes Dec 5 2019The last night at Ludwig was very fucking sad.

My husband came out with me, only the second time he came out in 2019, because, well, it was important. He even dressed up super spiffy. As always, Maurus Knowles brought me my favorite non-alcoholic beverage, Ostmost Apfel-Minze schorle. Ceven Knowles made a playlist that began with “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing”, so perfect it seared my heart. Dear Transophonix, above, made a processional to the stage and performed a dirge, filling the space.Shady Darling at the Last Ludwig Night by Suzanne Forbes Dec 5 2019

Shady Darling, above, charmed us all with sass.

The tables out front were packed, spilling over, with colorful queens and queers and non-binary folx. We were all heavy with loss, and yet also exuberant, because of the community we have. Dan and I left pretty early, because my heart was spilling over too.

Thank you, Maurus and Ceven, for giving me the place my life in Berlin truly began.

Here are some previous times at Ludwig:

A benefit for singer Sigrid Grajek

Olympia Bukkakis and Transophonix perform

When we had our Women’s Art Lounge at Ludwig

Young queer folx at Ludwig for Suzanne’s birthday

The book release party for “As You wish, my Lady”

My portrait of Rah Hell hanging at Ludwig, the first painting I showed in Berlin

A holiday elf at Ludwig

When Suzanne and I had a Women’s Art Lounge for Galentine’s and I made my first collage.

Citizen of the world, soul of Berlin.

Live painting during the ARTfair created by Suzanne Wegh and Natascha Artworx, and me!

Dirk Rave and Mads Elung-Jensen performing.

And the Donut Heart video release party, which was when my life in Berlin really crystallized and began.

We can’t always keep things alive in the present, but we will always have our memories and the community and connection that were built at this beautiful queer art bar.

Drawing Liliana Velásquez at Dr. Sketchy’s x Drink and Draw Berlin!

I am incredibly sad that my beloved Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin is ending.

Lala Vox has poured her heart and soul into it for ten years, creating an event beyond anyone’s imaginings, and needs to let it go now. Co-producer Syren Joey, who has done fantastic work the last couple years, also has reasons to not be producing a big elaborate event.

So the last two events are being held as special intimate sessions of Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin at the Drink and Draw Berlin kunsthaus, and this Sunday’s starred model Liliana Velásquez.

Liliana Velasquez at Take It Easy Baby Tom Petty Tribute by Suzanne Forbes April 20 2018Liliana is a friend and muse who I have drawn many times because she is one of the hardest-working entertainers in Berlin. I’ve caught her doing stand-up, producing variety shows, hosting New Year’s events, teaching the tango at her live talk show, and more.

She is also a professional life model, who worked for seven years at the top New York art schools, including the Art Student’s League and the School of Visual Arts, two of the places where I went to school!

There is nothing like the grace and elegance of an experienced artists’ model, who can tell a story in their gaze or the arch of a foot.

Liliana is also now teaching self-defense to women and minorities at Pretty Deadly Self Defense, a valuable Berlin resource I am hoping to check out soon!

Here is a picture of me at my usual table at a Sketchy’s earlier this year, by Maren Michaelis.

Thanks so much to Lala Vox and Syren Joey for their hard work on Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin, and to Liliana Velásquez and the great folks of Drink and Draw Berlin!

I absolutely encourage all Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin folks who haven’t yet been to visit Drink and Draw Berlin’s gorgeous and welcoming historic boat. The boat is docked on the river Spree, and is set up as a permanent life drawing space, with model platforms, hanging drapery, props, easels, and a variety of seating including very comfy! There are weekly drawing classes, events and more.

November Unterwegs!

Unterwegs November 24 2019 lady with gloves by Suzanne ForbesI know, there haven’t been any unterwegs for so long!

And some of my Patrons as well as many of my followers really enjoy them; I’m sorry I haven’t been making them. Unfortunately the last nine months or so have just been a mess with my health, and I haven’t gone anywhere except to doctors, most of whom are walking distance or one subway stop away. I’m feeling better now, and have had a little bit of energy for going to things. And since we live where all the doctors are but none of the nightlife is, that means riding the U-Bahn!

Above, a lady with gloves I saw while heading to the Drink And Draw Berlin boat for a Dr. Sketchy’s/D&D Berlin session. The guy behind her was just staring at me. Not like people usually stare at me – because watching someone draw is vaguely interesting, or because seeing someone draw on the subway is unusual, or I am wearing a giant fly made of Swarovski crystals on my head or whatever. This guy was staring at me like I was one more random event in a day that didn’t make sense. I felt for him, but I liked the way his arm was just hanging there, so I drew him anyway. I do not believe the bottle was his; it had rolled from a different part of the car.

Unterwegs October 26 2019 guy with backpack by Suzanne ForbesThis guy was very aware that I was drawing him.

I had caught his eye when I sat down across from him because I swung my bag around to get my sketchbook out and accidentally bonked the lady next to me. I apologized loudly in my American way, saying “Entschuldigung! Tut mir leid!” while the lady snorted and everyone looked over. Then I saw the guy sitting back so serenely, and started drawing him. And he realized it, and actually posed! Which happens occasionally, but not often, on the U-Bahn.

Here’s the previous unterwegs, and you can see the unterwegs gallery on flickr here.

As always I am so grateful to my Patrons for their crowdfunded support, which lets me make this work and release it as Free Art. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me making my documentary art of Berlin.