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Vallejo HSS building public art commission

Solano County Supervisor, Barbara Kondylis and Susan Schneider discuss her public art project at the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Solano County Health and Social Services Building opened in Vallejo, CA January 12, 2010.

all works © 2010 Susan Schneider, all rights reserved.

Go Figure

I paint weekly from the model with a fine group of painters that meet in a Crockett studio on Thursday evenings. We do not critique each other's work. That's the beauty of it. Because, when all is said and done, as artists each of us has to find our own work. No one else can tell us how to do that. After all the classes, the art schools, the colleges, the workshops, the paintouts to save wetlands and the business of being an artist courses are over, we just have our own paintings to see whether we've got the chops, or not. Recently a small group of us were invited by Epperson Gallery to stage an exhibit in their back room. We decided to show figurative work. Since that's what brings us together weekly. There aren't many opportunities to show works from the figure. People are very shy of nudes--more than ever it seems. And any gallery will tell you that, "Figures don't sell." Still, as artists, we are eternally inspired by the human form. We called the show Go Figure. Maybe it could become a thing, we decided, especially if we had a catchy title.

The exhibit was well received but too brief. No, we didn't sell a thing. But, that wasn't the point of painting from the model anyway. There is a deep and rich tradition of Bay Area Figurative work. We are proceeded by those who, in the midst of mid-century modernist abstraction came home to find the figure in tact and ready for interpretation.

Home Girl Pride

I was very privileged this year to complete and install a large pubic art commission in a new Solano County Health and Social Services Services building in Vallejo which was dedicated in January.

The Solano County Art Commission wanted to grow the art community in Solano. I was one of a hand full of lucky artists to be awarded one of several public art commissions in 2008. Some project were cancelled when the economy tumbled. Lucky for me, this was one that was given the go-ahead. The project allowed me to reach beyond the boundaries I had previously set for myself in my work. I explored materials and processes I hadn't had the opportunity to work with before--mounted large format high resolution digital photography, casein painting, and etched glass and stainless steel. The people that the building serves don't go to art galleries often. Overly busy people, they are working within the system to make a good life out of sometimes a struggle to exist.

Vallejo is a jewel in the rough. Not very much good news is presented by the media about Vallejo these days. Much has to do with political reasons, I suspect. News about crime rates, though statistically unchanged, are keeping people away from our threshold. So, there could hardly be a better time to let the light of this beautiful hard-working and diverse community shine. With this project I was afforded the opportunity and the privilege of representing my tender and often maligned community in a favorable light. I am grateful to the County of Solano for giving me this opportunity and for ushering my work into the public domain.