Update to “that state up north” post

January 31st, 2018

It’s my pleasure to announce that my work is now available at the Ann Arbor Art Center on a permanent basis! The gallery is a wonderful space with very good art on display. In the spring, after the snow melts, I will add to the few remaining pieces left after the holiday show. Road trip anyone?


December 20th, 2017

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

2017 was all about travel for me. It wasn’t a conscious decision to leave the studio; it was a decision to say yes to any and every opportunity to go places and see things that are new to me. The song lyric, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”  (Darius Rucker) inspired me to be more adventurous. I am not getting any younger….yet another birthday in two days. So, I visited Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts, South and North Carolina and back to Colorado- all in about 6 months. I have seen some awe-inspiring places that will fuel new artwork during the long cold winter ahead. Please enjoy with me some of the 3,000 photos I’ve taken during my travels. Enjoy.

“That State Up North”

October 30th, 2017

Something new for this Buckeye artist. My work is now available at the Ann Arbor Art Center! I applied to show in their Holiday Showcase and was accepted! Yesterday I drove to Ann Arbor (and back) to deliver 16 pieces to the gallery space. It’s a 3-floor building right in the heart of the retail area of the town. It’s just down the street from loads of coffee shops, restaurants, and even a Cherry Republic. I was impressed by the quality of the work in the gallery. There is a second-floor gallery space and the third floor is dedicated to classrooms. I would love to teach my workshop there next summer. We will see what develops.

Yesterday was my first time in Ann Arbor. I have heard about the “big house” all of my life. After I dropped off my work, I could not resist driving the few blocks to Michigan Stadium. Being a Sunday, it was empty. That was probably good for me as I was attired in scarlet and gray. Impromptu OH followed… you get the idea. Stay tuned as I think there will be more to this story.


“Blooming” at Xavier University

September 30th, 2017

Here are a few photos from the opening at Xavier. It is a stunning show and will remain in place through Oct. 27th. The gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10-4. I hope you will stop by to see my latest work!


September 16th, 2017

My long anticipated exhibition at Xavier University Art Gallery is almost here. Frank Satogata, Ian Ross and I have been planning this exhibit for a year and a half. The opening is September 28th from 5-7PM. Please consider attending. Here is the original proposal that we submitted to the gallery director in our application materials.

“Blooming” is a collaborative art exhibition showcasing the floral work of Frank Satogata, Ian Ross and Susan Mahan. Satogata is a painter who specializes in subjects of natural origin, typically landscapes and florals. Ross is a photographer of floral still life. Mahan merges the two, creating mixed media paintings that embed floral photos into her paintings, which are typically garden scenes and floral still life. All three artists are known for their bold use of luminescent color. Strong compositions show the influence of the graphic design industry. Subjects range from still life to garden landscapes and the indication of actual subject matter ranges from very abstract to highly detailed.

It is of significance to note that all three artists are well-established artists and are technically classified as “seniors.” All have had successful careers in art-related fields different from their current work. Satogata was a graphic designer, Ross a painter, and Mahan a high school art teacher. Their wealth of individual experiences brings a level of maturity to the exhibition. All three artists have reinvented themselves along with their perspective of not only their work but their daily outlook. All three consider themselves fortunate to have the ability, at this stage of their lives, to be “late bloomers.” They all feel they have only just begun to hit their stride, they are, in fact, still “blooming.”

UPDATE on Columbus Cultural Arts Center Workshop

July 6th, 2017

Workshop week in Columbus was WONDERFUL! The women in my class were attentive, inspired and such fun. It didn’t hurt that several are high school art teachers! In other words, we speak the same language. It was also fun to take a mini field trip to Art Access on Wednesday evening to see some of my new work. We had a great time and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity. Here are a few photos from the week.

So, I’m ready to teach again!

June 12th, 2017

When I retired from full time arts education in 2006 I wasn’t sure I would ever want to go back in the classroom again. How could I possible top my wonderful 25 years at Mariemont? Then, in 2012 an opportunity came my way- to be an Adjunct at Xavier University in the Art Department Saturday College. I seized it and loved every minute of it. I would do that again in a heart beat. Last October Todd Camp, the Associate Director of the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, called me and offered me another rare experience . He asked me to teach a 4 day workshop at their facility in Columbus. After a minute’s hesitation I said yes. In two short weeks this workshop will happen.

I have been very busy planning what to teach, how to teach it and how much I can jam in to 4 short days. It’s something I have not ever taught- my mixed media process. So, it’s taking a lot of planning. And it is causing me to examine my process with a magnifying glass. You see, I just do it, I have never really figured out a specific step by step procedure. Good teachers should analyze the information they plan to discuss and then give that information to students a bit at a time. With this in mind I have been back-tracking and trying to pinpoint what exactly my process is. Crazy, right?

This I know, I am looking forward to this entire experience and also spending time at this amazing facility. I visited for a day to see the place and fine tune my ideas with Todd a couple weeks ago. I was very impressed with the range of subjects that are taught in the building. Looms, jewelry equipment, kilns for clay, enameling, and a huge painting studio… all there. My home for the week will be in the painting studio. While I was visiting, Todd also generously invited us to the Patron Party held at CCAC last Friday evening. It was a huge party to thank the patrons of the center and a kickoff for the Columbus Arts Festival weekend. What a great party! We had a memorable evening sampling the food, meeting nice people and touring the building. Mark enjoyed seeing the building, a former Armory. The art festival was exceptional. We were surprised to see so many different artists other than those who regularly exhibit at  Summerfair. All in all it was a great night and worth the drive.

I will try to post photos and a description of what’s going on while I am in Columbus. It’s going to be such fun and something new for me. I am already getting requests for a workshop in Cincinnati so who knows, this teaching bug may get ahold of me again! Once a teacher, always a teacher.     

When your work is in the windows of Macy’s Fountain Place…

May 27th, 2017

Have you been to 5th Street Gallery yet? It is now INSIDE Macy’s Fountain Place. Yes, INSIDE Macy’s-right across the street from Fountain Square in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. When I tell people where we are located, they still don’t understand that it is inside the Macy’s store. We have a beautiful space on the 5th Street side of the building that is located along the windows. You have to see it to believe it. Wall space is at a premium due to all the windows, so, Mark made some hanging panels to hang in front of the windows and display large paintings. It’s fun to work in the gallery and watch people’s reactions when they are strolling by. They are walking by, look in, see the bright colors, and stop. Often they come in the doors which are conveniently located just to the south side of our windows. They can’t believe we are inside the Macy’s store.

We have been in this new home for 6 months and are finally starting to feel at home. There are 22 members in our group and we all take turns working shifts in the gallery. We each work about one shift a week. Our hours are 11-7 Tuesday-Saturday and 12:30-4:30 on Sunday. If you enter the store from any door but the 5th Street door, just find cosmetics/fragrances on the ground level and we are directly across from fragrances. The management of Macy’s has welcomed us warmly. We are lovingly called “Macy’s Made Local.”

I admit, it makes me so proud when I walk by to see my work hanging in the windows of such a grand and iconic Cincinnati place.

An Odd Couple

November 14th, 2016

“Go with joy. Life in faith. Believe that life is Good, and if you find it not, help make it so, To the glory of God who made us.” Those words of our minister Larry Kent inspire me on a daily basis. They inspire me to see the good in life and people who enter my life. I try to treat people with kindness and compassion. It’s important to remember what a person’s point of reference is when reacting to them. React with respect and you will often receive respect in return.

Lately the climate of our country has been so contentious. Social media has allowed people to criticize each other for their beliefs, all while sitting in the quiet safety of their homes behind their computers and watching TV. Verbal assaults are plentiful and mean. I have been criticized by my conservative friends that I am too liberal. My liberal friends infer that I am too conservative. I’ve been called out for being a “wimp” for not engaging in arguments when I’m baited. It is all too much for me.

D.W. Winnicott said “Artists are people who are driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” I will admit that I have wanted to hide a lot lately.When faced with a verbal challenge I prefer to hide in the quiet chaos of my studio. My artwork is my desire to communicate my belief that life is good. My florals and landscapes celebrate all that is beautiful in my world. It’s not that I don’t know ugliness exists, I do. So how do I address those who want me to be more vocal? Join groups and protest? Rant on social media? No. One city block at a time is my way.

It was my plan to go downtown Saturday. I needed to go to Pendleton in OTR to retrieve a couple paintings and deliver them to a gallery in Longworth Hall. The gallery owner at Longworth thinks her customer will buy them this week. Driven by this potential sale, I set the DVR to record the Buckeye game but I hoped to be home it time to watch it live. While downtown I decided to also visit my friend who planned to work in her new co-op gallery on Walnut Street. I dressed up in my new poncho and my best jeans, boots and a hat, ready for a day downtown taking care of business and enjoying a day out of the studio and not doing usual Saturday chores. The sun was out and the air was crisp. Before I left, I received a text from my friend alerting me to the fact that there were protests planned for downtown and to be careful and perhaps change my plans. After some quick googling I learned that Black Lives Matter planned to protest the jury decision of the Tensing trial and also an anti-Trump protest was taking place on Fountain Square. I was going to be in the locations of both protests but thought they would take place later in the day. Undaunted, I decided to stick with my scheduled plans. I love to stay on schedule. It’s a teacher thing.

The trips to Pendleton and Longworth were uneventful. No signs of discontent; just a sleepy Saturday morning. Meeting with the gallery owner was pleasant and the potential sale of two paintings is always a good thing. I then drove to 7th St. and parked in a garage near 708, next to Jeff Ruby’s. I toured the gallery, which is great, and then decided to walk to Macy’s where I am part of a new gallery co-op there. The artist working at our gallery had texted me some questions and I thought maybe she needed some help or relief. It was a gorgeous day and I love being downtown so there was no point in moving my car. As I left 708 I approached the corner and fell into step with an older black gentleman. We were both waiting for the light to change. He smiled and I did as well. I noticed he was shabbily dressed, missing most of his teeth and carrying a plastic bag from CVS. Part of me was fearful, but, for the most part I just wanted to cross the street and keep walking. We crossed the street and appeared to be headed in the same direction. As we approached some scaffolding, he paused to let me pass first. He said “Where are you headed on this beautiful day?” I told him I was going to Macy’s, which was several blocks away. He said he was not walking too well and for me to go ahead of him. Something inside me made me want to talk to him so I slowed down. I told him there was no hurry and that I only hoped to be home in time to watch my team play football at 3:30. I said “Saturdays should make us slow down.” I’m really not sure where that thought originated, but it’s what I said. He told me his age made him slow down every day. I don’t think he was much older than I am but I thought his circumstances maybe prematurely aged him. I wondered if he was homeless, but was not sure. I asked him where he was headed and he said he was going to catch a bus to Walmart to finally get the TV that was on layaway that he had been paying on for months. He proudly told me it’s 36″ and is going to be a great new way for him to watch football. So, he isn’t homeless if he has a place to watch football. Good. We kept walking. Our mutual love of football occupied our conversation for several blocks. We talked about Cardale Jones winning the national championship, Tony Romo probably being out of a job, Zeke Elliott and his amazing success this year, the Bengals. He seemed impressed that I could remember the names of those players when he could not. He confided that he loves basketball even more that football. He scolded me gently that I don’t watch the Buckeyes play basketball regularly. We arrived at Fountain Square and he said he was going to use the restroom before catching his bus because “Living on Ensure in a can goes right through him.” I really did not understand what he meant until later. We said goodbye. I told him I enjoyed meeting him and wished him many happy times watching sports on his new TV. He said “I’m going to think of you every time your Buckeyes win! Thanks for being so kind to an old man; you made my day!” And he was gone. Wait, I don’t know your name….too late. I could have done more, so much more. I suddenly wanted to drive him to Walmart, to chip in on the TV and buy him a meal. It was over in a flash. Such an unlikely encounter. What an odd couple we made walking through the city together. So many people were very openly staring at us. I did not care. I wanted more.

Why do I share this brief pairing of maybe 15 minutes of my Saturday? I don’t want to be thanked or commended for talking to this man. I don’t want to be congratulated for showing a little human kindness. I want only to be recognized for doing things my way…not the way you may think is right… my way of battling racism, and silencing my detractors who say I am a wimp. I am me. I am unashamed. I try to be considerate of those around me, whether it’s for the person behind me waiting in line or the clerk who is ringing up a sale. I paint what I see and do what feels right. Call me “Susie Creamcheese” or “Goody Two Shoes” if you want. I have on my rose colored glasses. It’s personal with me… one opportunity at a time; one person at a time, one city block at a time. Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Martin Luther King said “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”

I continue to “Go with Joy” and look for opportunities to help people and treat them with respect and kindness every day.

I just wish I knew his name.


5th Street Gallery

November 10th, 2016

Big news from Mahan Studio and Mark I! We are now part of a co-operative gallery in downtown Cincinnati. Macy’s Fountain Square has offered space inside their store to house the 5th Street Gallery. We are part of that space and could not be more excited about this new opportunity to showcase our work. The gallery space is INSDIE Macy’s -located on the 5th Street side- basically in the windows facing 5th Street. We are open for business during regular Macy’s hours. Macy’s is launching a new program called “Macy’s Made Local.” We are the first group of local artisans to be a part of this program. We are very happy to partner with them to pilot this effort. Let’s all support downtown businesses this holiday season. Be a part of the “local” movement and support your local artists! img_9288-1