Throughout the month of March, a collection of works by local artist and retired librarian, John Suess, will be on display at the North Shore Public Library (6800 North Port Washington Road, Glendale). This marks the first time North Shore Public Library has hosted a public art exhibit.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Suess, 74, has always had a passion for art. He began drawing and painting at the age of 3. After high school, he pursued a degree in commercial art at Milwaukee Area Technical College, but realized he was more interested in fine art instead. He eventually transferred to UW-Milwaukee where, after a brief stint in the Army Reserves, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in ancient history and a master’s degree in library science.
Suess spent the next 34 years working in the Milwaukee Public Library system, with the majority spent at MPL-Central in the science and business department. There, Suess met his wife, Mary, who is also a retired librarian.
Since retiring in 2007, Suess has devoted his free time to playing golf, working in his award-winning garden, taking photographs and…painting. After his retirement, Suess has produced over 150 works of art, many of which he has sold, or gifted to family and friends.
Suess works primarily in acrylics and occasionally oils, and describes his style as impressionist, tonalism and color field, with some realism. His favorite subjects are landscapes, especially local scenery.
“I find my inspiration outdoors. While working in my garden, playing golf, or taking a walk or drive, I will often be captivated by the beauty of nature and stop to capture it with my camera. Then, I’ll make it come back to life on canvas,” Suess said.
Suess has also completed several commissioned works. In 2019, Suess was commissioned by his parish, Christ King, to produce works in celebration of its 80th anniversary. The largest of these paintings, Christ the King, a 30x40 acrylic on gesso board, is on permanent display on the southeast wall inside the church, while four others capturing the local church’s iconic steeple as viewed during each season, are on display in the vestibule.
Suess’ other recent showings include the Menomonee Falls Public Library and the Creative Edge Art Gallery in Twin Lakes in December; the Park People Gala in November; public libraries in Mequon-Thiensville, Greenfield, Cudahy and Wauwatosa; County Parks, where a selection of his work featuring local golf courses was showcased in the clubhouses of courses such as Dretzka, Currie and Hansen; and Redline Milwaukee, where Suess was featured as part of the Modern Landscape exhibition in 2018.
“I’ve loved having the chance to display my art in various locations for local communities to enjoy and I’m grateful to the Menomonee Falls Library for giving me the opportunity to bring my paintings to a new part of town. After the last two years we have all had, it is nice to be able to visit places and interact with others again. It’s long overdue and I hope many will check it out,” Suess said, interjecting a little of his librarian humor.
Fifteen of his works are on display now through the end of March at the North Shore Library, along the back wall near the Young Adult Section. Pieces included in the show are a variety of florals and a grouping of landscapes, many of which are based on local vantage points. Additionally, five brand new paintings will debut at this show: “Don’t Look Back” and “Pink Field,” which are abstract, color field explorations; two fresh landscapes “Once Upon a High and Windy Hill” and “Milwaukee River”; and “Golden Hour,” an image inspired by his daughter.
The exhibit is free of charge and is open for viewing during the library’s normal hours of operation, which are as follows: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday- Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.
Suess’ complete collection can be viewed on his website at JohnSuessFineArt.com and fans can follow him on Instagram and Facebook. Many of his pieces are available for sale on Etsy but visitors to the library’s exhibit can enjoy special pricing on the works included in the show by contacting John directly via his website.