Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Susan Suraci

David Tanner

Whatzup Features Writer

Published September 1, 2006

Heads Up! This article is 16 years old.

It’s not easy at times to find

the multi-dexterous Susie Suraci.

She’s not a recluse, just a

busy girl. During the work-a-day week she’s in the admissions Department at

IPFW. Most evenings she’s at home in the city’s near south side, helping to

raise a family. Then there are evenings when she’s rehearsing or performing

with her husband, Rob Suraci, and their playmate John Minton with the Possum

Trot Orchestra.

Then there are the weekends

when, if not performing, you might catch her at her lakeside painting studio.

My lips are sealed, by request, as to the exact location of this retreat, but I

can reveal that it is in Noble County, reasonably primitive and quite possibly

an elemental ingredient in the creation of an artist’s colony. (I still can’t

figure out where she finds the time to compose her songs.)

Being in, or near, the water

isn’t just a therapeutic device for Suraci; it is more like a necessity. Born

and reared in Maryland, she’s an honest-to-goodness Malaclemys terrapin, i.e. a

turtle, the fearsome mascot of her alma mater, the University of Maryland, from

where she earned her degree in painting. (Some of her favorite influences were,

and are, the painters Larry Rivers, Richard Diebenkorn and Paul Klee.)

The idea of her migrating here

– to the home town of Mishekinoquah, the Miami chief Little Turtle – is a bit

of a stretch. Suffice it to say she’s got a foot on land and the other in

water, and we’ll dispense with the details.

Suraci’s current solo

exhibition, “Lake Trailer Paintings,” can be seen at the Dash-In, 814

Calhoun Street through September 7. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 7

a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays from 7 to 7 and Saturdays from 10 until 4.

The show is built comfortably

in the confines of the coffee shop/restaurant, yet it, depending upon the time

of your visit, does or doesn’t do justice to her work regarding available lighting.

In the Dash-In show Suraci’s

focus is riveted upon a time and a subject when people placed trailers –

Airstreams and other less eye-pleasing, more iconic mobile homes – on lakefront

property as either weekend get-away enclaves or even permanent residences. She

does so in the manner of a documentary photographer attempting to capture a

bygone culture for posterity. And she does it with a serious purpose.

“I, well, just not

me,” Suraci says, “recognize that these offbeat retreats will likely

vanish relatively soon. The fact is that, as lake property continues to

increase in demand and investment value, many of the old lake trailers are

being hauled away in favor of more prestigious dwellings.”

Her painting style – part

realistic, part impressionist – definitely conveys the essence of the modernist

architecture, but she leaves her work (perhaps purposely) without a human

quality. Her landscapes are populated by outdoor grills, tables, cars, trucks

and kids’ playthings, but never a glimpse of the human form. Trees, water and

lily pads remain in the surroundings, but the overall backdrop is absent of


Sadly Suraci’s current lake

studio isn’t her first. Three years ago a vintage 1960s trailer which she had

patiently restored to pristine condition was completely destroyed in a fire

caused by an electrical short circuit.

Suraci confesses that she feels

a bit of an outsider with regards to the local art scene. “Maybe because

of my musical commitments that may be in conflict with my painting, I just

don’t feel connected with others in the painting scene.”

On the other hand the artist

has been a regular on the Fort Wayne art scene, having shown at Artlink, Castle

Gallery, a Muncie gallery and at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in the Tri Kappa

Show. Some of the work in the Dash-In show came out of a 2004-2005 Individual

Artist Project grant she received from the Indiana Arts Commission.

Suraci’s musical gifts become

evident with even a cursory listen to her work. You can access a taste of The

Possum Trot Orchestra’s efforts at or take the

plunge as I did and spring for the entire CD (available at the Three Rivers

Food Co-op). According to liner notes and in the words of reviewers, “The

Possums forage across the American tradition, from folk, country and bluegrass

to blues, gospel and rock, with touches of pop, swing, ragtime – even


“And, I might add, they do it

authentically well.

The Dash-In show closes in less

than two weeks, so the pressure is on the reader to get to the ubiquitous

‘lake’ and catch Suraci’s captured cultural images.

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