Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Suzanne Galazka

Heather Miller

Whatzup Features Writer

Published February 21, 2013

Heads Up! This article is 9 years old.

I met with Suzanne Galazka in her classroom at Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery located inside the Auer Center for Arts and Culture in downtown Fort Wayne. Her classes are held in an interior room intentionally tucked out of view and away from the hustle and bustle of meetings, coffee chats and anxious children waiting their turn for ballet class.   Galazka welcomed me to her space, the space where her passion and energy explode, if you only ask the right questions. As I sit down with artists who allow me to crawl into their heads, I am learning quickly that the most interesting words flow when they are prompted to share their creative process. The first words from Galazka’s mouth sum up what many artists describe. 

“Drawing is something I just have to do,” she said. “I think about art every day. My studio at home is so packed with drawings I have no surface to draw. [There are] stacks of thousands of drawings … It must be hard living with an artist.” 

Hard? I don’t know about that. Interesting? I am sure. 

Galazka has an artist’s soul. She’s driven by a force that lives within her, an energy that causes her to sense the world in a way that is deeper and more fulfilling than many of us could ever realize. Even as a young child she attached a profound interpretation to her surroundings. She recalled riding in the car, watching the Michigan landscape pass by her window. (I picture her quiet and alert, with eyes intensely focused on the tiny details that raced past her view, her hand pressed against the window, dreaming and seeing.) As Galazka traveled, she studied the landscape. But even as a child Galazka didn’t just see the landscape; she felt it, as if her hand were stretched out and running over the tops of trees, up and down hills and across the rooftops of barns and silos. 

“I was very tactile. I could feel trees and power lines. I could mold the landscape with my hands,” Galazka says of her childhood road trips. Like many of us look for pictures in the clouds, Galazka saw figures in the rolling hills.

“I could see a reclining figure in the landscape … bushes coming out of an armpit, a rolling hill became a hip. I saw knees, elbows, legs. (It helped me not be carsick.)”

Galazka practiced drawing using her mother and sister as models. She describes drawing as a transformative experience. 

“I felt something different when I would draw. I could feel going over the contour of them. It was a different type of feeling, a tactile feeling that I translated onto paper.”

Galazka’s love for art was found as a child, and she developed her skill for making art as she grew. She attended the College for Creative Studies near Detroit where she gained a foundation in art history and drawing technique. She particularly enjoyed an anatomy figure class because she learned the function of the human skeleton. It was in this class that she began to look at a surface as a volume, and to think about what was underneath. She often thinks of the figure as a hunk of clay. 

“The bones underneath provide the character of the pose,” she says. 

Galazka’s studies brought her to Philadelphia where she focused on painting. A friendship with a Polish priest, along with her Polish heritage, led her to Poland where she studied art history for three years. She moved back to Detroit, then again to Europe where she worked for the United Nations, all the while working on her art, looking at art and absorbing art culture every day. She came back to the states and hopped around our country a bit, living in Little Rock and Memphis until she finally ended up in Fort Wayne.

Having been immersed in some of the finest art the world has to offer, the transition to Fort Wayne was not easy. “Artlink saved me,” says Galazka. “I work in a place where I get to look at art every day.” 

Galazka explains that she sees some very good art pass through the gallery. “The bad art I just don’t look at,” she chuckled, “but the good paintings pull me in. I look at the brush strokes and I can see the layers all the way back to the canvas. I look for the paint behind the paint.” She studies the dollops of paint, the sweeping brush strokes and the ridges created by the coarse hairs of the brush.

Our city is fortunate to have such a resource. Galazka is a true art lover and a nurturing instructor who shares her passion with her drawing students at Artlink. Classes are small and filled with a range of ability from university students to working artists. Galazka works with live, nude models and always draws or paints alongside her students. Her goal is to teach her students to capture what the model is feeling or doing, not necessarily create a perfect likeness. 

“The feeling is most important,” she says. 

She wants her students to learn to see the world as she does and she leads them with a gentle, nurturing teaching style. A very giving instructor, she projects her passion onto others. It is the student’s responsibility to pick it up and run with it. If you listen and watch her carefully, Galazka will lead you to discover new skills. 

Classes at Artlink are intended for professional and amateur artists as well as students. You can find Galazka teaching from 6:30-9:30 on Monday and Thursday evenings. Cost is $3 per hour to cover the cost of the model. 

She extends this invitation to prospective students: “Come, learn to see. Come and draw. Come and work. We’re sweating in here.” 

When speaking of her own work Galazka describes her art as loose, never tight, a style that allows people to see the process of creation. When working with live models, she often works quickly. Sometimes only five minutes are needed for Galazka to capture a specific emotion on her paper. She may choose to stop working once the essence of a pose has been captured. The minimalist lines allow the viewer to fill in the gaps, which is why her work is so appealing: it asks the viewer to finish the piece in his/her own mind.

From February 16 through March 10, Wunderkammer Company, located at 3402 Fairfield Avenue, will feature Galazka along with artist Carly Schmitt in a show entitled Elevated Lines. Come out, enjoy the work and consider purchasing a piece for your collection. Wunderkammer Company hours are 1-9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

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