backdrops for photographers and interior designers,
she started painting fine art. “I entered lots of
competitions from the backs of magazines in those
days,” she says with a laugh.
In 1991 Kapp gave her an exhibition at her
Waxlander Gallery, located on Canyon Road. “For
years, the work flew out the doors. I was doing 100
paintings a year,” Sales says. She spent six years with
the gallery and then left, saying, “I didn’t want to
keep doing what I was doing.” So she took time
out, at which point other Sante Fe galleries began
approaching her. “When LewAllen Contemporary
contacted me, that was it,” she notes. “I wanted a
more contemporary environment.”
That contemporary environment also exists
at Craighead Green, where her work has always
been popular. It was even featured on the cover of
the 2008 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. Gallerist
Kenneth Craighead says, “The gallery has such a
close relationship with Susan’s work because it has
been so popular and so well-received in Dallas. To
have missed showing her work for so long and then
to have the opportunity for her to come back is
exciting for the gallery and the artist. I am sure there
will be change and growth in the work.”
Says Sales, “Shows are what I would like to do now.
It is much better for me as an artist to create a body of
work. I like the cohesiveness I get between creating
and dispensing work all at once.” One advantage of
using alkyd paints and Liquin medium is that they
dry quickly. Not quickly enough, however, for Sales
to be able to work on one painting at a time. In the
fall, she had about eight different canvases in various
stages of completeness. Preparing for her upcoming
exhibition has been a six-month project. Ultimately,
she hopes to have 15 paintings in the exhibition.
Every work will be new, as she never includes older
work in her gallery shows.
Sales enjoys creating series, which she titles as one
body of work. She explains, “For that one occasion
they are all together.” And while many artists are
stumped when it comes to titling their work, it is one
of Sales’s favorite parts of the process. Some of these
titles come in the form of poems that tell a story.
Others relate to boyfriends or business.
And to the question many people ask of artists,
“How did you come up with that technique?” Sales
tells a story of car repair. After the gas cap on her car
had been vandalized, a mechanic showed her how
to cover the damage by painting and then sanding
it. While the paint itself was flat, once she started
burnishing it, it emerged with a shimmering finish.
This extra step has become a hallmark of her work.
How will the new work differ from previous
work? While Dallas audiences are accustomed to her
deeply saturated canvases, there may be some white
in this exhibition. But color will never completely
disappear from her creations, and there are several
pieces that are striations of pure color. Sales says,
“For me, they are a really fabulous way to play with
colors. I am just into colors.” P
mary anne smiley, ASID, RID
Interior design art +