Suzanne Fellerman Cerny (ne Giuriati)
I was exposed to learning good habits, art and religion by my grandmother. When it's said that young children are impressionable, looking back I can see that was my privilege to have 2 years with my grandmother who showed me art, music and words of the wise. She was a great advocate of team work. Later I saw my mother draw and paint and that left a lasting impression too. My original father came from Naples, Italy. He had a continental style restaurant in Shaker Heights, Ohio. His name was Lionello and so his Leonello restaurant became known for his copies of impression paintings. The cozy room for wedding parties had the Russian artist Marc Chagall's works on the 4 walls.
I opted to major in art in high school. At that time, in the 1960's, the High School of Music and Art was well known in NYC. My cousin had studied music there..
For college I was admitted on scholarship at the Cooper Union in lower Manhattan. I built my art experience through the program of painting, drawing, sculpture and graphic art. I enjoyed the art history classes where an art historian showed glass slides and explained the art of early civilizations and on up to the present, all with a keen sense of humor.
Robert Gwathmey 1903-1988 was my favorite drawing teacher. I was aware of his paintings which were rich in color and simple in design. Our painting classes were totally different with action painting leading the eye to discern a non-objective intuitive composition. Nicolas Marsicano was my painting teacher 3ho guided me into the metaphysical world of thinking artists and historians.
Having left Cooper and having had a yearning for raw nature, I took a journey out into the western United States, and up into the Canadian northwest where I did some painting, but mainly observed the wilderness, and the seasons.
I began teaching night school in Whitehorse Yukon. It was there too that I won a mural contest for the new City Hall, built of field stone.
My mural was designed to portray a history of the Klondike. Drawn out on graph paper to equal the dimensions of a 500 sq foot mural, it was built with the help of a local cabinet maker in veneer covered plywood. I won a $5,000 prize for the completion of this fine mural. Some photos are in the visual section below.
I moved from the northwest to San Francisco. I began in earnest to follow a course of oil painting with drawing ideas from the S F Public Library stacks, the art section. I taught myself naturalistic oil painting and practiced for the last 65 years.
I left San Francisco and moved to the central coast, California. I created several murals there both exterior and interior for private companies.One mural there was for the historic town of Lompoc where many murals grace the town on the warehouses that were all over central Lompoc. I won the title of Master Muralist with another 500 foot mural, this time done with a draft on graph paper, and utilizing photos of the factory, I translated the feeling of the blacksmith shop into raw paint. i designed the history of a blacksmith shop, the theme that was given for the event. The highlight of this mural, done in veneer plywood relief, was the center piece. I had lettered in fine calligraphy the Statement of the Young Men of Athens to the City of Athens. This had a theme of respect for the city of Whitehorse too, which was growing rapidly. I had lived in the Yukon for 5 years. I had lived on the banks of the Yukon River in a log cabin owned by a couple who had packed food up to the miners of the 1930's from Alberta, and who established themselves as fur trappers locally.
The first of my many escapes from a physical and social reality though began when I finished the mural. Instead of staying in Canada and building upon my name as a muralist, I moved to San Francisco where I was totally unknown, had no friends or family, and proceeded to build a California life.
After making California my home, I moved again, this time to Santa Barbara. I began outdoor painting, en plein air, with the Ray Strong and Michael Drury O.A.K. group. As a painter I also became involved with a little club started by Ridah Omri, from Tunisia.
At night I would sketch in the small night club downtown Santa Barbara. I drew the performers in charcoal and pastel live 8x10 sketches. Holding 6 sketches in progress in my lap I continued to do this night after night for three years. Toward the end I enlarged these from musicians advertising at home in the day, creating framed works, and then starting 4'x3' canvases of musicians who would be playing in a nearby hall.
In 2004 I happened to find the works of a master painter, Celito Medeiros. Celito invited me to study the art of digital painting in his town in southern Brazil. With that medium I could undertake illustrations for commercial use.Ted Gioia, a top jazz historian, writer, pianist, publicist, contacted me to do some illustrations for a website called jazz.com/ I enjoyed working professionally under Ted for 2 years for the website jazz.com/
My display of paintings on this FineArtAmerica website reflect a wide array of mediums and subject matter. Some of the landscapes were commissioned by Eric Albronda, drummer and publicist for the 1960'a band Blue Cheer. Eric had me paint from life in areas where he played alone in his childhood exploring within Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. He had me refresh paintings that he owned, and do copies of some of his mother's work as well.
Now in present time, I am indulging in the very medium i began with in Cooper Union, which is oil paint, and on large canvases, under the guidance of Kenneth Holder of Holder Designs. Hanging paintings in his pristine modern environments meant to be creditable after more than a generation, is a lovely challenge. All the work that Kenneth likes are the non-objective abstracts, clean and calligraphic in some cases, or geometrical, or plain shooting from the shoulder onto the canvas. These are exciting to me to do because rather than concentrating on how to get it right, I'm tuning in to my inner sight and manipulating brush, palette knife and paint dripping in selected areas for unusual effects.
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Updated 2/16 2019