May 26, 2005
Go Figure. Drawing, a fundamental, if not
the most elemental skill in an artist's tool kit
is losing status in some academic quarters.
Not so for teacher and accomplished draftsman
Suzanne Galazka, whose inspired hand and elevated
talent has instructed so many scribblers and
doodlers to see for more than two decades.
"I'm certainly not the first to ever have said
or taught it," Galazka acknowledges, "but maybe
the most critical ingredient for an artist is the
ability to see and make contact with his subject.
I try to instill that in my classes (she teaches
at both Artlink and Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne)
along with the idea of not drawing what a subject
is, but what it is doing."
Galazka's reputation as a driven, if not
demanding task master in the studio is some ways
the opposite of her own work. Her soft,
sensuously contoured ink-and-watercolor figure
renderings are of textbook and collectible
quality. They can often be seen at Artlink
exhibitions and regularly populate the walls of
the Castle Gallery and in private collections
elsewhere around the city.
Renderings of male and female nudes are the
artist's forte. In some cases a work may take
less than 30 seconds to complete. The addition of
subtle watercolor enhancements might lengthen the
elapsed time to 30 minutes. The brief ones expose
her rigor of seeing and interpreting her subjects
as if her pen had been held aloof for inspiration
before suddenly becoming energized for engagement
with the paper. The result is a kind of
automatism. Spontaneously capturing and freezing
a moment in time. Underline here the notion that
Galazka's work is not that of a copyist but as an
It all sounds and look easy, like the oft-heard
cliched comment of a museum visitor upon seeing a
Picasso: "Oh, my three-year-old could do as
In no way defensive, Galazka points out, "It's
easy to draw unless you know how."
Like all successful talents in any number of
fields, Galazka's roots go back to an early age.
In her case it began in a blue-collar section of
Detroit where she was raised.
"My father was a pipe fitter by profession who
invented several methods in his craft, and he was
tested to put his ideas on paper, and maybe I
inherited my gifts with pen and pencil from him,"
she confesses. "But from a very young age I took
to drawing. I remember imitating the 'Draw Me'
ads from comic books, and at one point I remember
doing a portrait of my mother when I realized, in
just a line or two, that I had a gift for it.
I've been pretty much pursuing that line ever
"Other things I recall from those days were the
images of the civil rights movement and the
events happening in Detroit from TV and the
newspapers. I tried to incorporate them in my
studies. There have been many influences
throughout my career, but the singular one is
probably Egon Schiele, who saw what I see in the
"In any event my father was very supportive of
my efforts, supplying me with paper and pencils
or whatever I needed at the time."
As to any erotic components in her work Galazka
is left perplexed by some viewer's reactions.
In 1912 the Viennese Schiele was arrested,
charged with producing "seductive" pictures and
spent a short time behind bars. Galazka's nudes,
though anatomically correct, could never be
considered "prurient" by today's standards. There
was an instance a few years ago, however, when
her works were subject to a form of
"I was living out East and was invited to hang
some works in a gallery associated with a
Catholic church," she recalls. "Each morning when
the priest who invited me to exhibit would come
to the gallery and find all my pieces propped
along the hallway face-forward against the
walls. Apparently the night cleaning woman took
offense. The priest would then return each piece
to its spot on the wall each day of the show.
"I've had people ask me to do 'erotic' things,
but I've never gone that way. I admit that the
human form is beautiful. Feet, hands and curves
are my favorites, but I admire them for what they
are not exactly as turn-ons," she says.
However reticent she is to explain her art the
artist challenges us to sweep away the veil of
glancing perception. "I can't explain what some
people read into my work. I would just encourage
them to look deeper, perhaps into themselves."
By the way, like other wanna-be sketchers, I
took advantage of my meeting with Galazka to
present four examples of my "work" for her to
critique. I don't think I would receive a passing
grade with a batting average of .250. My irises
connected just before I started to apply some
shading. ("You have to known when to stop.") The
remaining three brought comments like "Your
perspective is totally off" "Yes, they resemble
wind chimes, but ..."; and finally, "What's
that?" (It was supposed to be a backyard sun
No solace here. I guess I'll stick to the left
side of my brain for awhile longer and just be
envious of this accomplished artist who rightly
deserves our attention.