Reception for Susan Berry on Sunday

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, July 17, 2014

Those who would enjoy an afternoon stroll “In and Around Pike County” Sunday are invited to the reception for artist Mary Susan Berry from 2 until 4 p.m. at the Johnson Center for the Arts.

Vicki Pritchett, Johnson Center executive director, said Berry’s “In and Around Pike County” exhibit has generated a lot excitement among those who frequent the art center and those who have never been before.

“A lot of people heard about the exhibit from a family member or friend and came to see a painting of a house, a church or barn that has significance to them,” Pritchett said. “Susan has painted familiar places and places that are part of a changing Pike County. We invite everyone to come and celebrate Susan’s art with us Sunday afternoon.”

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For Berry, the “In and Around Pike County” exhibit validates her as an artist.

“When I was a child, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I would always say I wanted to be an artist,” Berry said. “When I was older and my daddy asked me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to go to Auburn and be an artist and I’m sure he almost fainted.

Berry’s dad was a wise man in encouraging her to “do something” where she could earn a living.

“That was good advice,” Berry said. “I majored in child development and commercial art. I retired from teaching and now I can enjoy my artwork.”

“In and Around Pike County” is Berry’s first one-woman show. She hasn’t done many shows but she is a prolific painter. Her home is filled with her artwork and she enjoys “living” with it.

“I haven’t done a lot of shows because I’ve never wanted to sell anything but don’t want to have to take all these paintings I did for the show home,” Berry said laughing.

Some of Berry’s paintings are for sale; others have too much sentimental value to let them go.

One of the “no sale” paintings is of her dad, from whom Berry inherited her artistic talent.

“When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to do was crawl up in Daddy’s lap and guess what he was drawing,” Berry said. “He was not a painter. He was more of a commercial artist.”

Berry’s dad was a meat cutter at the A&P and he was called up to do all of the brush lettering for the grocery store’s signs.

Berry’s painting of her dad is showcased in the exhibit with a clay sculpture of his hands and the meat cleaver he used at the A&P. “That’s priceless.”

“Daddy was a good writer, too,” Berry said. “He wrote beautifully. He wrote me every day that I was in school at Auburn and he would decorate the envelopes. Before the postman would give me the envelope, he would tell me what Daddy had drawn on it.

“I know Daddy would be so proud of this exhibit of my artwork. But what has happened to me is not of great magnitude in the whole scheme of things but it does bring me great satisfaction that finally, I’m a real artist.”