Healing the Muse

By Ray Scotty Morris

Landscape Painter and Philanthropist, Susan Swartz, Endeavors to Restore and Preserve her Muse: the Natural Environment.

To find inspiration for her trademark Aspens, artist Susan Swartz looks out the window from her mountaintop studio in Park City, Utah. An official artist of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and well known to collectors, she has just completed her second solo museum exhibition.

                              Susan working in her studio.

Raised in a family of artists, Susan painted in high school, majored in college art and taught high school art for many years. Despite the tranquility of her scenes, there is an underlying energy/tension to her works that hints of her complex relationship with nature. “Mankind’s carelessness with the natural world has had a very personal effect. Nearly killed me twice,” she explains.

Seaman Kelly Stone Executive Producer, Geralyn White Dreyfous, and investor (of the film) Susan, exhibiting the Oscar awarded for the film “Born Into Brothels”. Background photo of film’s children.

A decade ago, Susan was diagnosed with mercury poisoning and then another illness, Lyme disease. “I came so close to dying,” she says. “Faith kept me going.” While combating her illnesses, Susan found a new purpose. She works with renowned environmental crusaders, like Dr. Jane Goodall and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (who writes that Swartz “captures what is both sacred and divine in nature … in her art I find refuge and inspiration.”).

Susan and her husband Jim enjoy a cup of coffee at their home.

She serves on the boards of the Harvard Divinity School and the Salt Lake Film Center, is a trustee of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and co-founded the Christian Center of Park City. With her husband Jim, a leading venture capitalist, Susan Swartz has become involved in the production of documentary films that seek to shed light on injustice. Films touched by Susan include two Academy Award winners and numerous nominees at the Sundance Film Festival – her experiences have inspired change in her art. “My illnesses shook my comfort level,” she says. “My art is more impassioned, more profound, and more achingly full of desire than anything I created in the past. I want my nine grandchildren to see the world as I have seen it.”

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Susan Swartz at the Sundance Film Festival.


Susan and Jim head for the slopes.

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