Brick and Mortar
Park Place Gallery
661 Park Place, #3
Brooklyn, NY, 11216

April 20th–29th, 2018
Opening Reception: April 20th 6–10 pm

Sue Havens is a mother. This appears nowhere in the exhibition Brick and Mortar, but is nonetheless important to me, to both her and I. It’s in the work.

After 15 years of making shaped paintings, drawings on paper and paper constructions investigating flatness, dimensionality, and pattern, visitors to Sue’s studio these past 12 months realized this was a moment of reckoning and transfiguration—how does an artist’s work all of a sudden and unapologetically ask so much from us?

Lets quickly trace—she was a new transplant from 25 years in NYC where she had published a book called ‘Make Your Own Toys,’ hustled adjunct gigs, logged 12 years at the Danbury Mint,  painted the uncanny at Madame Tussaud’s, secured full-time access to a public university’s art department facilities, mothered her son from an infant to an uncorrupted observer of the world, travelled to Turkey just before the coup, witnessed the election of Trump, and experienced consistent insomnia throughout.

It’s all in this work, which looks like it’s often saying ‘yes’ is actually, obstinately, more than a mic-drop, saying NO.

Written by: Jason Lazarus, Artist


Sue Havens (born 1972 in Rochester, New York) is an artist based in New York and Tampa. Havens received her BFA in Art from The Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art in 1995, and her MFA in painting from The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in 2003. Her work has been exhibited in a number of solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. Havens is a 2008 Fellowship recipient in Painting from The New York Foundation for the Arts and most recently a recipient of the 2017 McKnight Junior Faculty Development Fellowship. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Art at The University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida.

Brick and Mortar (via Park Place Gallery)
Brick and Mortar includes paintings, ceramics, and works on paper. Brick and mortar in its simplest usage describes the physical presence of a building or other structure, i.e. the bricks, mortar, tile work, building blocks, et cetera. In another sense, it can describe a business which is non-virtual as in a “Brick and Mortar” shop as opposed to an online shop. The phrase becomes both an idea of materiality, but also a conceptual framework for something actual, face-to-face, non-virtual, “local,” or “hands on.” 

Prior to arrival at The University of South Florida, Havens’ work challenged notions of geometry and dimensionality in painting. Currently, her works incorporates ceramic forms alongside of larger paintings that use the grid as an integrating strategy. The work is democratic in the use of everyday objects and disparate subject matter, ranging from old commercial packaging, to tree bark, space-dyed knit sweaters from the ‘70s and hand painted auto body shop signs. The result is a kind of landscape, at times a flat patchwork and other times evolving into a modular architecture. In searching for ways to frustrate a tendency towards precision and control, Havens revives cast aside, ordinary and flawed objects searching for a new integration - a resurrected beauty.