Susan Kemenyffy with mixed media installation “Raku Place: The Bamboo Rock”
I am not a snappy dresser. I like to think I choose handsome clothing, clothing well made and useful, things that wear well, and yes, things that as it has recently been pointed out to me look like a uniform. I am enthusiastic about a well made uniform. I had not, however, thought that my wardrobe lacked variety. After all, I possess not only a black blazer, but also a navy blue one, and in a whim of adventurous eccentricity this past season I have added a brown blazer into the mix, very handsome indeed…but, possibly in the eyes of one who does not appreciate the understated beauty of the sparrow, drab. In retrospect, I now recall a since-passed friend of mine named David Bryson, who was a ballroom dancer and very well dressed, saying to me, as I had just done the little twirl we do when introducing a new element to our trousseau, “Ohhh my, that looks so severe. Don’t you have any jewelry?” My black Nehru, a timeless classic, severe?
And time, timing and timelessness is my point here. As I was walking towards the door to leave for a “gathering” I spotted a package protruding from my mail slot. Hmmm, what is this? The address label says it’s from Abigail…I tore it open and out popped silk, voluptuous rose colored silk, it had shirring, and fell into soft petals of ruffled distraction ending in slender twisted fringe…I pulled off my standard issue khaki raincoat and olive drab wool scarf. I draped it around my neck, very swish, decidedly out of uniform. Abigail always knows, just go with it.
Armed in well shirred silk, I arrived at a building designed by architect F. Ferdinand Durang, an excellent example of English Gothic design. This is definitely a place where the extra swish bucks up a girls confidence. I had come here for a reason, to hear the perspicacious Susan Kemenyffy discuss her work. Susan is a woman of many pursuits, all seemingly interconnected, always art, often history, and throughout the lot of it, gardens.
The evening was upon us, our gracious hostess, Mary Gamble, put all the attendees at ease encouraging connections, arranging for us lovely bits to eat and drink, and then she gently tapped her glass. The group now quieted, waited to hear her speak. Mary called those of us with work on exhibit up into the front of the circle to say a few words. When the time came for Susan to speak we all trailed down the long corridor lined with art following her to her piece. Susan called us closer, and she began to speak. Pointing to the other end of the corridor to the foyer from which we had assembled she said, “When I was teaching here many years ago, I would spend time in that chapel seeking a few moments of quiet.” Susan went on to describe the relationship between those moments, that time and this time right now in the present. Standing in front of a piece of work that incorporated the elements of her garden at Raku Place, the bamboo that she grew into a small forest and harvested for inclusion, the image of the very large rock that she has spent decades observing outside of the window of her studio, the evolution of her work, her life, her marriage to the ubiquitous Steven Kemenyffy, the intertwining of the life of her garden and the gardens of others as important, the work of non-artists who through their efforts of moving earth and fostering growth of plants, fostering growth of funding, fostering growth of historical documentation, have engaged in the timeless pursuit of noting time. A very enjoyable evening indeed.*k.d.
Governor’s Artist of the Year Award Recipient Susan Kemenyffy