Suzy Soto: An artist at heart

Except for a few recent newcomers, everyone in the Cayman Islands has heard the name Suzy Soto. For those of us who are lucky enough to know her personally, we have long realized that Suzy has either too much energy or simply too much time on her hands.

I’ve known her since the early ‘70s, when she and Eric Bergstrom owned and operated the Tortuga Club (now Morritt’s Tortuga). When I look at her persevering through past and present endeavors, I need a nap. Island life is not meant to be that insane. After the Tortuga Club era, she remained in the hospitality business by opening the successful Cracked Conch Restaurant, while still finding time to dance with Prince Charles, write several books, spearhead the Cayman Heart Fund Galas, raise five children and receive just about every award imaginable with the exception of an Oscar.

Now, having said all that, there is another side to Suzy of which I was not aware. Come to think of it, most who know Suzy (with the exception of her immediate family) have no idea that Suzy Soto is also an accomplished artist. She’s seemed to have developed her own style, evolving away from the pull of imitation in favor of a simpler, more straightforward approach with the brush.

Her style is traditional art; art where the average person can discern what the images are, rather than a blob or a circle on canvas that can leave a non-art aficionado scratching their head.

Her portrait of Captain Carl Bush is inspired by admiration for the man himself … and how Suzy has captured the eyes. Yes, the eyes are the mirror of the soul; the place one looks for the most complete, reliable, and relevant information about the subject. I’m not going to pretend to be any sort of art critic, using words such as tone, texture, movement, contrast and so on; I’ll just let Suzy tell you about her work in her own words.

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“All my life I’ve been painting,” says Suzy. “I paint to fulfill my desire to depict things I consider amazing. I love to paint old stuff, like an old shutter falling off the wall, or old houses.

Portrait of Captain Carl Bush.

“My son Jim has one in his law office, an old house from Little Cayman I painted before it was knocked down. The house had an eerie history; those who know the antiquity of the structure can see a ‘ghost’ standing in the doorway.”

Her underwater images are multicolored replicas of the real thing – minus the aqueous and salt.

Suzy is a bit humble about her work. She feels it’s not good enough to sell or display. Well, Suzy, you’re wrong. At Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening sale in New York on Nov. 11, 2015, a 1970 painting by Cy Twombly from his “Blackboard Collection” – nothing but simple lasso-like white scribbles on a black background – sold for $70.5 million.

Suzy, don’t give up the brush. There’s a song in there somewhere.

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