Art beat // Remembering SooVAC founder Suzy Greenberg

THE WEDGE — She was a gallery owner and an accomplished artist. But Suzy Greenberg also made an art of fostering talent.

Greenberg, who died unexpectedly Aug. 16 at age 44, opened Soo Visual Arts Center in June, 2001, and over the next decade featured the work of many of the city’s best young visual artists in the Lyndale Avenue gallery. She promoted the work of emerging talents, hosting an annual exhibition for Masters of Fine Arts-degree candidates from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and, more recently, she started SooFUZE, a teen art program that gave some area high school students their first big gallery shows.

In an email, MCAD President Jay Coogan wrote that the school community was “deeply saddened” by the death of Greenberg, who earned a MFA degree from the school in 1998.

“There are certain people in our community who make a difference and when they are gone those special qualities they have are deeply missed,” Coogan wrote. “Suzy was a sophisticated, warm and strong creative person. She enlivened the arts in our community and we will all miss her.”

Carolyn Payne met Greenberg through her husband, the artist Terrence Payne, in 2001, and in 2009 Greenberg hired her to fill the executive director position at SooVAC. In an email, Payne wrote that Greenberg “helped the whole community by nurturing and investing (in) artists.”

“SooVAC is the entry point for a thriving artistic career,” she continued. “The gallery is a welcoming storefront space designed to make contemporary art approachable for the community.”

Those involved in SooVAC intend to keep it that way; a curatorial panel established earlier this year, consisting of local artists Andrea Carlson and Bruce Tapola and arts writer Tamatha Perlman, continues to plan shows.

Wrote Payne: “Exhibitions have already been planned through 2014 and we are continuing the work Suzy started.”