Throughout the month of September, a collection of works by local artist and retired librarian, John Suess, is on display at the New Berlin Public Library (15105 W. Library Ln, New Berlin).
The exhibit, which is free and open to the public during the library’s normal business hours, features 20 of Suess’ original paintings. Pieces included in the show are a variety of florals and a grouping of landscapes, many of which are based on local vantage points. Several paintings showcase beautiful autumn scenes, featuring bright oranges, yellows, and reds just in time for the upcoming fall season. One of those is a brand-new piece entitled, “And So It Goes,” which will make its debut at this show.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Suess, 75, 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. Since 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 North Shore Library this spring; Menomonee Falls Public Library and the Creative Edge Art Gallery in Twin Lakes last winter; 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 New Berlin Library for giving me the opportunity to bring my paintings to a new part of town. After the last couple of 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.
The exhibit, located in the library’s lobby, is free of charge and is open for viewing during the library’s normal hours of operation, which are as follows: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday- Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays, 1-4 p.m. The library is closed for the Labor Day holiday this weekend, Saturday, September 2 through Monday, September 4 and will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, September 5.
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.