We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Weinthaler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susan, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Without a doubt, they key element would be my work’s inherent capacity for change. Life is not static, so if art is about life then art should move. I make “Bits” which are small objects of art with a magnet attached that can fit in the palm of your hand. Magnets offer the perfect mounting system for infinite potential configurations when placed on steel. They are intended to be grouped together so as to create something larger, something with a life force. It’s a flexible system for manipulating artistic information. They are meant to be perpetually deconstructed and reconstructed, it’s the whole point.
I usually hang large sheets of steel on the wall to display my Bits, but the magnetic aspect also enables my work to move like an organism. It can attach itself to anything steel and adapt to its environment. Since I just need a magnetic surface, I love finding worthy steel architectural details that make interesting habitats for my Bits. For example, I went to Miami during Art Basel (2018) and “bombed” the city. Oh my, that was so much fun. I made a bouquet of roses and put it all over town. It functioned as temporary graffiti. Upon return to New York, I “bombed” the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Union Square Subway Station and Times Square to name a few. It was so refreshing to allow the piece to explore and realize so many different versions of itself.
Another essential component would be the aspect of touch. Art is generally made for the eyes and mind, but rarely for the hands. I find there is a distinct intimacy involved in my work because of that unique novelty. I use a wide variety of materials and am highly mindful of the surface of each Bit. You could say I have a fetish for finish.
The possibilities are endless.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
The notion of “the whole is the sum of its parts” keeps my mind busy. I am so curious about the nature of particles, elements, molecules, atoms, all the moving parts, both physically and metaphorically. I try to compose with this in mind as I create a collection, thinking in terms of subsets and Venn diagrams, as well as the singular Bit.
I love that nothing is solid and everything is energy, according to Quantum Mechanics. Physicists have proven that objects are really just energies with movement. The implications of this non-solid reality I find mind-blowing. As Buckminster Fuller said, “There are no solids. There are no things. There are only interfering and non-interfering patterns operative in pure principle, and principles are eternal”.
Ultimately, I think of it all as one big collection, like a flock of birds or a school of fish. Someday I’d love for a curator to find all the Bits all over the world and bring them together for an exhibition, mixing them up in new combinations or in one giant mass. That’s how I envision my retrospective someday. I hope I’m alive to see it.
Has it been easy? Define easy. I’ve had it easier than some and harder than others, but I’ve always tried to work to the best of my ability within the given parameters at the time.
to live magnetically,
to tap into instinct,
to embrace change,
to work really hard,
to hear when opportunity knocks,
to never give up, never EVER give up,
to remember to take time off,
to love with abandon,
to go big or go home,
to make mistakes,
to fix things,
to trust myself,
to look closely,
to let go,
but the more I learn,
the more I realize
just how much more there is to know,
and I laugh again.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Having been in NYC for 25 years, I’ve seen neighborhoods change and establishments come and go. A lot of my favorite places don’t exist any longer. How I wish I had a time machine and could make a list of favorite places through my history in New York City. Now that would be fun. But here we are in a new reality. Places are opening and closing every day in NYC, so I’m going to suggest all things outside because of Covid.
A walking tour to check out outdoor dining options is a great place to start because you never know what you’re going to find. It’s best to follow your nose and make it an adventure. Eat and drink your way through the day. Discovery is part of it. NYC is currently figuring out its new outdoor dining definition, which is exciting. The city feels so different, it’s like a delicious shanty town. Every neighborhood has something to offer and walking around is still by far the best thing to do in New York City.
I’m an avid bicyclist. Taking a bike ride (www.citibikenyc.com) on the Hudson River Bike Path (hudsonriverpark.org) is fabulous. It’s the urban beach. The balconies at the Whitney Museum (whitney.org) are amazing, and so is the art inside. Right across the street is “Little Island” (littleisland.org), a significant architectural feat that is a new public park opening late spring 2021. It looks like a perfect picnic spot. A bit further south is City Vineyard (cityvineyardnyc.com) where one can have a glass of wine, watch the sunset and relax without the hustle and bustle.
Brooklyn is essential, and Industry City (industrycity.com) in Sunset Park is epic. It is filled with delicious and festive things. My favorite would be the Barrow’s Intense Tasting Room (barrowsintense.com) on Distiller’s Row in courtyard 5/6 where they make a ginger liqueur that is beyond dreamy. They also carry 170 or so New York State distilled products that are available as Tasting Flights and bottle sales. Yummy cocktails. There’s often a jazz band. The courtyards are huge with cozy firepits and plenty of seating with room for kids to run around. Lots to do.
The Cliffs at Dumbo (dumbo.thecliffsclimbing.com) is such a rare experience. It’s a state-of-the-art climbing facility nestled in the Brooklyn Bridge Park down under the Manhattan Bridge. No experience required. So cool.
I do hope Central Park is able to have outdoor free music this summer, that’s one of the highlights of the season (www.centralpark.com/things-to-do/concerts). Regardless, go find music throughout the park. I’m sure it will be teeming with incredible musicians. While you’re there go for a boat ride and get ice cream.
Speaking of boats, the Staten Island Ferry (www.siferry.com), which is also free, goes right past the Statue of Liberty and there’s rarely any wait. It’s refreshing to see New York from the water, a fresh perspective. Definitely use the NYC ferry system (www.ferry.nyc/routes-and-schedules/) as an alternate public transportation solution. It makes everything an adventure, and you’re outside.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Professionally, my shoutout goes to Ombretta Agro Andruff (http://www.ombrettaagro.com) who has been with me since the beginning when I launched into making Bits in 2007. At the time she totally grasped what I was up to and was excited to be the first to exhibit my work at art fairs. We’ve done so many crazy projects together since then and are still working together now. It just keeps getting better. She’s a beautiful force of nature with genius insight, a joy to work with who has become a dear friend over the years. Presently she is trying to save the planet through art, check her out her latest endeavor at https://www.artsail.info.
Spiritually, I would like to thank the Buddha for recognizing the essence of impermanence in life, the only true constant in the universe. I find such comfort in that.
But really, my son gets the biggest shout out of all. He’s been the greatest inspiration since his arrival in 2005, always a voice of reason and wisdom. He was the ultimate Beta Tester as I developed this body of work. Of course, I must also include my incredible husband, dear family and friends. What an amazing team they have been. Without them I would be lost.
Bill Brady (the first two phots of me holding the mirror, and my reflections in the mirrors)