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Susanna Bluhm’s paintings of Yosemite and other locales are full of place and history—and, as she tells us, plenty of sex and weather, too.

Susanna Bluhm grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles and currently lives in Seattle with her wife and son. She earned her BA in Studio Art from California State University Humboldt and her MFA in Painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and at the Karl Hofer Gesellschaft in Berlin. She is a member of SOIL artist-run gallery in Seattle, and is represented by G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle. Her work has been shown internationally.

Select Yosemite paintings are on view at G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, through Aug. 16, 2014.

All images used with permission, copyright © the artist, all rights reserved.

The Morning News:

Do you travel to paint, or paint where you travel?

Susanna Bluhm:

Both usually overlap or inform each other pretty naturally. My personal need to go somewhere usually matches, or leads to, my need to paint it, and vice versa.


There’s a lot of sex in your paintings, at least to my eye, even the landscapes. A voluptuousness, a lusciousness. The landscapes feel very human.


There is sex going on—maybe even especially with the landscapes. I don’t know if it’s deliberate as much as inherent—in the history of paint as coaxing flesh, and also in my personal orientation towards landscape and painting as responsive lovers. I’d say sex and weather are mostly what’s happening in there.


What’s your daily work schedule like?


I have a six-year-old on summer vacation and a half-time job, so lately I haven’t had much of a studio schedule, just clumps of hours snatched when I can get them. When school starts again I’ll get Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the studio.


Was there a moment or period in your career when you felt you’d found your voice?


Yes. When I started the Song of Songs series in 2009 I very much had that feeling. I remember noticing that the content of the work was completely connected to the way I was painting, as were the titles.


You put a lot into your titles. A lot of artists don’t.


I enjoy titles. People are so text-focused they often look at the titles before the art, so it would seem a shame to not take advantage of them.

Sometimes the titles are absolutely linked to the paintings and the two need each other—in my mind, anyway. This is true with the Song of Songs and Island paintings. With the Yosemite paintings, the titles are descriptive clues about what I see in the paintings.


How serious are you about your leisure?


I’m really good at pleasure and horrible at leisure. I have more hobbies than I have time for and am terrible at doing nothing. I’m an obsessed gardener, cook, playlist maker, and traveler.


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin