Artful window shopping

Check out the visual treat in the store window at Laughing Bear.


If you find yourself strolling up Circuit Ave. one of these winter days, stop to take a look in the Laughing Bear shop window for a visual treat. Owner Annie Schenk has given the boutique’s storefront windows over to artist Suesan Stovall’s work in a variety of media for a fascinating, colorful tableau.

The pieces on display include small paintings, photos, assemblages, mixed-media pieces, and sculptures, all artfully arranged. “They’re all geared toward making the spirit feel better,” says Stovall.

Prominently placed is a series of angel sculptures made of bottles wrapped in bits of fabric and embellished with found objects. These primitive-style sculptures have the look of little totems and, according to Stovall, each brings its own sort of magic. Some have crystals hidden inside the bottles. “They provide good feelings in your home,” says the artist.

The small abstract paintings and collages are sometimes surmounted by intricately decorated frames that are as much a work of art as the pictures within. Everything is colorful and joyful. “My purpose is to bring some brightness to the darkness of winter,” says Stovall. “It’s been very bleak in the world — with the political landscape, wars, and environmental issues. I wanted to do something antithetical to that — full of energy, bright colors, and hope.”

Stovall often uses found objects in her projects. She refers to her storefront exhibit as “a celebration of my global wanderings.” She explains her process, saying, “I work from whatever I find that inspires me. I spend a lot of time with my head down walking the streets. I dive in dumpsters and find discards from people’s lives. I love finding old photos. There’s energy in people’s things.”

During the summer months, Stovall operates a space called the Groovy Sue Gallery in a converted garage in Oak Bluffs. She has earned a dedicated following for her work, which can be found in private homes throughout the world. She has shown in numerous galleries on the Island, most recently at the Cousen Rose Gallery on Circuit Ave.

A true Renaissance woman, Stovall also acts, sings, and writes — exhibiting equal passion for all of these artistic endeavors. She attended the prestigious School of the Performing Arts (the “Fame” school) in New York City. She continues to perform as an actor, although she notes that her musical career has taken the forefront more recently. As a singer she has performed in New York, Los Angeles, London, and South Africa, and she has developed a loyal following on the Vineyard. Her soulful delivery has earned her numerous gigs providing music for funerals as well as other events.

Stovall’s most recent pursuit is photography. Before she left Los Angeles a few years back, she had been working on a series of photos of homeless people around the city. She befriended her numerous subjects, and she is presently writing a one-woman show featuring the stories of some of the homeless she met in her journeys around the city. With these projects she hopes to raise money for various homeless organizations.

Stovall is also presently working on a couple of screenplays and some short stories. “I’m hyper-artistic,” says the multidimensional artist. As with her current exhibit, all of her projects focus on the positive. “So many people are feeling despondent,” she says. “I feel hope. I try to bring a little light into the dark places.”