Screaming With Quiet Talent, Susan Geissler Makes Her Mark

September 29, 2011

Geissler’s studio is front row seat on Main Street for Fireman’s Field Day parade Youngstown, NY

Susan Geissler's Freedom Crossing, Lewiston, New York

Freedom Crossing, Lewiston, New York

Susan Geissler with miniatures in her studio Youngstown, NY

To come upon a screamingly talented yet humble artist in a quiet storefront studio on Main Street in the sleepy western frontier village of Youngstown, New York is a contextual experience that dazzles the senses. The town has one flashing stop light. The emerald green Niagara river flows parallel to the Main Street and spills powerfully, yet quietly into the blue expanse of the great Lake Ontario . Surrounding farms offer fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the season while fishermen venture forth and sailors race across the waters between Canada and the United States sharing this joy of the fresh water sports. Steeped in history, this area marks significant battles between British, French and American troops trading occupancy over the land for ages.
Susan Geissler is a local artist and her outstanding larger than life sculptures have entertained, provoked and educated her public all across America far from this quiet rural pocket of western New York. Proud, loud can can dancers that have been commissioned to travel aboard cruise ships to teachers reading patiently to students atop colorful alphabet blocks, Geissler captivates her audience.
She’s funny and self-effacing – brilliantly talented and sensitive. She sees amazingly intimate detail in anything that she selects to depict. Water turtles balancing on logs, carp swimming with nymphs, cheetahs lanky and elegant bodies stalking, butlers at your service, sunbathers reclining in camaraderie, her subjects are as real and varied as her imagination and real life can provide.
We strolled along the waterfront park in Lewiston just up the road to the very compelling Freedom Crossing Monument Installation. The intention was to “honor and pay tribute to the enslaved, who against all odds, sought a new life of freedom, and to the local volunteers who protected and helped them on their journey.” A bit larger than life, this action scene filled with desperate emotion captures the plight of escaping slaves on their way to freedom via the underground.
In addition to honor and pay tribute, this important sculpture is intended to “highlight and celebrate the historical importance of the Niagara River as a gateway to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Once fugitive slaves crossed the river, they were free forever.” This multi figure passionate study of a scene depicting “ the moment in time when fugitive slaves saw Canada for the first time after traveling hundreds of treacherous miles, avoiding slave catchers who were paid to capture and return them to the South.”
The Historical Society of Lewiston, New York continues to describe “handing the baby to the fugitive mother is Josiah Tryon (1798-1886), Lewiston’s volunteer “station master” for the Underground Railroad. A man of simple means, Tryon was quiet, humble and religious. By secretly escorting the slaves to freedom in his rowboat under the cover of darkness, he gave them hope and became a champion of justice and equality. He truly had a rainbow heart, embracing people of all colors and creeds.”
“With her outstretched arm pointing to Canada, Laura Eastman is the iconic heroine in the historical fiction book, “Freedom Crossing”. Laura has become the symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over oppression.”
From that historic and incredibly important portrayal of a time in history to the sculpture of long-haired, muscular Friesian (also Frisian) horses quietly grazing in a pasture just minutes from her studio, Geissler loves her subjects. She knows her subjects and she feels what they might be feeling to the best of her ability to do so.
Never been to Niagara Falls? Take a trip and make your way another 25 minutes along the river to Youngstown and the Old Fort Niagara. On your way, stop along the short stretch of Main Street and have a latte, maybe a grilled cheese sandwich, a beer and an ice cream cone on the corner and see the art in the window at Susan Geissler’s magical studio and if you’re fortunate and she’s there – you’ll meet an extraordinary individual who will welcome you with modest enthusiasm and quietly express her limitless talents and present fascinatingly animated subjects to dazzle your senses!

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