Susan Howe has been teaching art since 1973, but creating her own art is something she’s done since childhood.
“Being an artist was inherent,” she says. “In first grade, my drawing of a bus was the best! (I remember). I realized I could draw. My parents always made me feel proud to be an artist.”
Howe, whose work can be found in corporate and private collections in Louisville and nationwide, continues to teach art at her Mudpies Studio & Gallery in Middletown, where she also stays busy with her own projects.
Once such project is two years in the making, and she’s eager to debut it Saturday, Nov. 10, at Revelry Boutique Gallery. “100 Faces” is a collection of portraits she began in 2016 to help hone her skills and grow as an artist, and the people she chose were local artists who were impacting the arts scene.
She has since expanded to famous actors and musicians she admires, and, as the title suggests, she has 100 oil portraits in the show detailing everyone from Edward Lee and Jim James to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Audrey Hepburn.
“I started out attempting 35 young artisans making an impact in Louisville,” explains Howe. “It just blossomed into this group.”
Howe says each portrait takes at least three hours to complete, and she mostly draws from photos of the person.
“A lot come from Instagram accounts,” she says. “There are so many great photos for reference out there. Let’s face it, I would have loved to sit down with some of my muses to paint from life. Hello, Paul Newman! Be still my heart.”
Howe’s exhibit at Revelry is extra special for her, since the NuLu gallery is owned and operated by her daughter-in-law, Mo McKnight Howe.
“I really am in awe of Mo’s accomplishments,” says Howe. “She has really supported and encouraged me in this project, and I am humbled at her showcasing it. We have a lovely relationship, and I am so grateful.”
Each piece in the show will be priced at $175, so Mo tells Insider she expects them to sell fast. And she admits she’s quite honored to show off her mother-in-law’s work.
“She is one of Louisville’s most respected artists and teachers,” says Mo. “I’m honored to have her as a mentor and very honored she wants to show in my gallery. Actually, quite a few of our artists are from her studio … Many of her students sell their work here consistently, and they credit her with their oil-painting skill-set.”
Howe hopes people get to know her better through this exhibit, as she’s pulled together an eclectic, eccentric group of personalities who all mean a great deal to her.
“People may know me a bit better when they view this collection,” she says. “Every painting has a story in my heart. I hope they will share some of my joy in putting this together. I really love to do what I do.”
“100 Faces” opens Saturday, Nov. 10, with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. The exhibit continues through Nov. 28. Revelry is located at 742 E. Market St.
Before Howe hangs all 100 portraits, we asked her some very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
It is no surprise. There is only one. Hands down, anyone who knows me knows the answer. A trip to Paris. I am going! This is the only thing on my Bucket List.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
I have been in love with Paul Newman since I found out you could love someone besides your parents. My wall (walls) were covered with his pictures. I really was crazy in love with Paul (still might be — sorry).
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
Well, Bill Murray for sure! You are so welcome to the key to our city. We are thrilled to have you cheer on our beloved Cards and be the new face on our team! He is so damn nice. It’s a no-brainer.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
When I was 25, I went to the Bahamas and stayed in a fancy hotel. Everyone thought I was Joni Mitchell incognito! I was young enough to play along with it and old enough to remember how fun it was. Oh, those days on the beach as a star! Really fun! Ahh … 25.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
Well, I guess Joni Mitchell! I must have resembled her at 25.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
This is the most serious question. After just completing the “100 Faces” of people who have impacted my life, it is hard to choose just one.
I painted Judy Collins at her age today. She is still so down-to-earth and so naturally beautiful inside and out. We have both been on this planet a long time. We have both been artists for a long time, really from the beginning. I feel we would have a lot to talk about.
Neil Young, looking at clouds, trying to age with grace and dignity and still be relevant artists. I think we would have to push the stop button.