Welcome back funkmeisters!
Sue Van Horsen wanted to make art all her life, but career and family came first until her 40s when she turned to graphic design after decades in youth counseling. After that second career, a few years ago she went into her third, into assemblage, print making, and homemade guitar making.
I first saw VanHorsen’s work at Wall Space gallery, a mix of kitschy objects with menacing, punky attachments, along with a playable exhibit of her guitar work.
On my first visit to her house, she had amplified a cactus so one could play the spines though an amp. That’s when I realized Van Horsen’s mind thinks very differently to most people. I was happy to have her show in SPECIMEN, the 2013 show I curated at the SB Arts Fund.
Detail of Sue’s piece for SPECIMEN
Her guitars are selling very well, but it’s such a small fraction of what she makes. We check in with Sue and talk to her about her life, career, the state of art in Santa Barbara, and if anything can be done for a town that apparently doesn’t like “edgy” art. Van Horsen has some opinions, and it’s quite a funny chat. It’s a big longer than usual, but I think it’s worth it.
She has a piece on display this Friday (12/5/14) at Roy Restaurant, 7 W. Carrillo St. as part of Michael Long’s curated Prohibition-themed art show. I am one of the co-creators of Repeal Day Santa Barbara, so I hope the evening goes really well and see some of you there.
Topics discussed in this podcast
The history of Sue’s 1920 era house on the Westside
The end of one career and the beginning of Sue’s graphic designer career
And how that turned into an art career
Her classes with Elaine LeVasseur, printmaker
Being a collector since childhood
Growing up in Lakewood, CA, home of Black Flag and Suburban Lawns (kind of)
Connecting back with estranged family members in her 30s
A traumatic but hilarious anecdote about homemade clothing from high school
Reinventing herself in high school
Her stint at Cerritos City College
The influence of Warhol, Jasper Johns.
Why the Avengers was better in black and white
How art is who you are, not what you do
Living among oil derricks in Lakewood and beyond
Finding the Presbyterian church in her 20s and coming to Santa Barbara
The more freewheeling days of Santa Barbara, Fiesta, in the 1990s
How she got into guitar making, starting with cigar boxes
Being diagnosed with Parkinsons at 42
Being a “crafty mom”
How bad printmaking turned into her first show at Elsie’s
A roundabout explanation of the “Bun-a-Minute” assemblage
“Your art is too edgy”
How we know Santa Barbara is still so conservative, and an anecdote about the Rocky Horror Picture Show
The movie scene in Santa Barbara and the art scene
The future of the Funk Zone
Exposure, overexposure, and “art shock”
The fate of the Funk Zone’s Artist Village
A version of such a thing in San Diego
“Creepy is how this country rolls”
You can see Sue’s art here.
Here’s video of Norm Reed playing one of Sue’s guitars:
Here’s another one called the EZ Slider:
Here’s a moment from local TV featuring Sue
If you can’t see the embedded podcast above, here are other ways to listen:
Listen to it on iTunes
Download this episode here
You can also follow me on Twitter
Or read my arts writing at http://www.tedmills.com
Or check out my art here (warning NSFW): http://tedmillsart.tumblr.com/
ALSO! Repeal Day is this Friday! Would you like to celebrate with us? Well then: www.repealdaysb.com
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Lastly, our theme tune is brought to you by Raw Vegan.