Life Inside the Frame – A Visual Tour of Tom Suhler’s Contemporary Fine Art

In the Smoke Collection, I combine dancers, aerialists, nudes and smoke to create compelling and complex imagery. This video is a visual guide that leads you through some of the forms, characters and stories each with different relationships, struggles, emotions and perspectives.

I visit many different types of art exhibits and spend countless hours thinking about what makes one engaging. A brief guide that provides just a little bit of context is one of the elements I appreciate. I don’t want to much information, just a nudge in a general direction. Then I can explore the art on my terms. There is always time to find out more about the art and artist later. This video is crafted to be that kind of a nudge.

Life Inside the Frame tries to get the viewer to engage a work by exploring many of the different pieces that make up the whole. Then looking at the work in its entirety.

Another element I like is something that gets me physically engaged with art. My Changing Perspectives piece works in this manner and is something that audiences seem to enjoy.

Sounds & Sights from Tom Suhler’s Original Smoke Set

For over two years I worked on developing ideas, stories, imagery and forms with one common element, smoke. This video gives you a brief look at the final step in the creative process for me. I worked alongside some very talented artists who are dancers and aerialist to bring those thoughts to life.

This is a rare look onto my sets as they are closed to the public. I find that restricting the set to only the artists involved helps foster an environment that is beneficial for the creative process. One that is safe for everyone to try things without worrying about failing. This is very important when attempting things that have not been done before.

Sounds & Sights lets you listen in on brief snippets between myself and the artists as we transform thoughts into physical scenes. The audio is overlaid with stills consisting of test shots, rehearsals and final images.

I will be returning to the studio this Spring to continue my exploration of smoke.

Michael Moschen: An Artist Exploring Space, Rhythm and Inspiration through Juggling

My first encounter with Michael Moschen was a YouTube video of him performing “The Triangle”.  The lighting caught my eye even before he began his performance.  Then his interesting use of space and sound totally captivated me.  I immediately connected with how he defined a space and then used his art to explore and further define what that space means.  He integrates his entire body, movements and sound with the triangle.

Michael Moschen

He really articulates what he does in a TED Talk I discovered.  He uses phrases like: “explore rhythm and space”, “how to join with the space”, “building towards complexity”, “creating space” and “exploring geometry and the rhythm of shape”.  I think most artists can see some of what they do in these ideas.

We define spaces in many different ways.  Dancers and musicians may use rhythms.  Architects walls and ceilings.  Painters color.  Then within the spaces, we explore, join with it and build complexity.


Throughout his talk you discover that his inspirations come from some very different places.  It is a good reminder how any of us can draw on inspiration from almost anything you encounter and experience.

Moschen talks about developing vocabularies or languages of moving objects.  I heard almost this exact phrase from a tango dancer.  She told me that she did not learn to dance the tango.  Instead, she learned the vocabulary of the tango.  Then she was able to express something through the dance.  This metaphor resonates with me as I continue to learn many different languages.  Those of light, water and most recently smoke.  The better my vocabulary the more engaging my expressions.

Towards the end of his TED Talk, he has beautiful way of talking about his process.  “What I love is that I never know what I’m working on, why I’m working on it. They are not ideas, they are instincts.” He later continues with, “…I like not to know for as long as possible.  …because then it tells me the truth, instead of imposing the truth.” A thought I keep coming back to when I’m trying to force something that just isn’t working.  Standing back a bit sometimes allows me see the truth.

Nude Nite Jury Selects Tom Suhler's Contemporary Art

For the Fourth Consecutive year, Nude Nite’s jury has selected Tom Suhler’s contemporary art for their Orlando and Tampa shows.  “S No. 1” & “S No. 2” from his latest project, The Smoke Collection, will be making their Florida debut.

S No. 1

S No. 1

S No. 2

S No. 2

Nude Nite Orlando runs from February 13 – 15 and Nude Nite Tampa March 6 – 8.

Art Guild Selects Tom Suhler as 2014 Poster Artist


The Peoria Art Guild selected Tom Suhler as their 2014 Poster Artist for their Nude Attitude juried art exhibit.  Suhler’s image, Faberge, will adorn all promotional materials for the show including several billboards located around town.



The exhibit will include one of the 25 limited edition giclée Faberge prints.  Additionally, “S No. 1” from Suhler’s latest project, The Smoke Collection, will be making its Illinois debut.

S No. 1

S No. 1

The Nude Attitude runs from March 5 – 10 with Suhler planning to attend the exhibition party on March 7.

Mentor, sans bunnies

Friday was a bitter sweet day for me.   It began in the studio, the first day of a new project.  I was creating images with three new artists for a project that has been 2 years in the making.  Excited to share some of this new work I emailed a few photographs to one of my mentors, Ron Stark.  That evening I received an email from Ron’s brother letting me know that Ron died of a stroke thirteen days earlier on July 13th.

Flames - Ron Stark

Flames – Ron Stark

I spent the Summer of 2011 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I was there to run a popup gallery on the plaza.  My goal was to sell some of my art and learn more about the art marketing world.  I lived in a six unit apartment complex next to an arroyo about a mile from the plaza.  Most days I would wake up and walk to the gallery.  Some mornings as I was leaving I would see my neighbor sitting on his front porch smoking a cigarette.  I rarely said more than hello or goodbye since I was hurrying to be immersed in art at the gallery.

After a few weeks things did not feel so hectic and I had couple casual conversations with my neighbor.  Ron Stark was probably somewhere in his mid-sixties.  Most days I encountered him sitting on his front porch having his morning coffee and cigarette.  His grey hair was slightly disheveled and his eyes were maybe a little blood shot as he worked off his previous evening’s cocktails.  On more than one occasion I had come home late at night and found Ron having a little drink on his porch.  He told me he was something of an artist and when I told him that I worked in photography he said he had also done some photography, although now he mainly painted.

It is not surprising to run into an artist in Santa Fe.  You can’t throw a rock without hitting 15 or 20.  Of course many of these artists’ work rarely makes it much further than the refrigerator’s door.

One evening when I was returning home Ron asked if I would like to join him for drink on the porch.  When I told him I didn’t have anything to offer up he said not to worry that he had some vodka, Smirnoff to be precise.  Drinking his neat and mine with a cube or two it was only a few minutes before one of us told a joke.  Only two or three times in my life have I met someone that inspired truly amazing joke swapping sprees.  Ron was one of those people.  One story lead to another.  One punch line reminded us of another and one vodka lead to another.  Laughing until my side was sore I eventually crawled home in the early morning hours with a blurry head.

Torso (gumprint) - Ron Stark

Torso (gumprint) – Ron Stark

After that first marathon joke telling session, my initial skepticism melted away and I decided to find out what kind of artist was living next door.  Boy was I surprised with the breadth of his experiences.  Ron was an accomplished photographer, painter and flamenco guitarist.  He had known Ansel Adams and they had been in a group show together at he Smithsonian.  His solo shows had been held in such notable places as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Phillips Collection, The Vienna Secession, The San Francisco Museum of Art and the Musee de la Photographie.

Egg Mirrored - Ron Stark

Egg Mirrored (photograph) – Ron Stark

As the Summer wore on we got together for more joke trading sessions and had many engaging discussions about art.  He gradually began to mentor me about this world.  He told me about things to look out for when dealing with collectors and galleries.  He saw layers in my imagery and helped reinforce my belief in what I was doing.  We discussed the importance of creating enduring art.

Meadow  (with bunnies) - Ron Stark

Meadow (with bunnies) – Ron Stark

Ron’s humor was never too far away.  He told stories of meeting with collectors.  Often when telling them the title of a painting he would add to the title ‘…with bunnies.’  Of course there were none but it would always force the viewer to look a little longer at the work just in case they might have missed the bunnies.  This lead to one of our running jokes.  Anytime either one of us gave some piece a title, we would always append it with ‘…sans bunnies.’

Photograph after the Los Alamos Fire 2011 - Tom Suhler

Photograph after the Los Alamos Fire 2011 – Tom Suhler

Photograph after the Los Alamos Fire 2011 - Tom Suhler

Photograph after the Los Alamos Fire 2011 – Tom Suhler

2011 was the Summer of a big forest fire near Los Alamos.  That September, I drove into the forest near the Caldera and took photographs of the landscapes scorched by the fires.  There were vast expanses of burned forests with rich shadows falling visibly between the barren trees.  There were also the scorched trees contrasted with the fresh green growth.  That night when I came home Ron was  on his porch and he asked to see what I had been doing.  After looking at a number of the images he asked me to email him a few.  These photographs became the inspiration for his fire series of paintings.


Regrowth – Ron Stark
After the Fire Regrowth - Ron STark

After the Fire Regrowth – Ron STark

Ron painted during the day with his easel setup underneath the trumpet vines that covered his porch. In the evening when I returned from the gallery, he would show me how each painting was progressing.  I was fortunate to able to see his visions slowly emerge on the canvas.  A truly rare opportunity to witness the creative process.  I was glad that I was able to give back just a little inspiration since he had opened my eyes to so much.  This fire series would be the last series of paintings that Ron would complete.

Photograph after the Los Alamos Fire 2011 - Tom Suhler

Photograph after the Los Alamos Fire 2011 – Tom Suhler

The last time I saw Ron was the night before I left Santa Fe to return to Austin.  We started with a full bottle of vodka on the porch which gave way to late night of joke telling.  There never seemed to be a bottom to our well of humor and wit that we dipped into when we got together.  The next morning before sunrise I somehow managed to get up and hit the road.

At the Fire Line - Ron Stark

At the Fire Line – Ron Stark

We kept in touch by email over the last two years.  He kept sending me photographs of his latest paintings.  I continued to seek his council about the art scene.  He provided some valuable feedback while I was creating my book.

It is oddly reassuring getting to watch someone who is quite accomplished in your field endure the same struggles as you.  He lived the things we talked about like having faith in yourself and trusting the process.  Last March Ron wrote in an email to me, “My painting in progress is boring me and I need a new idea to work on like the fires.     It will come in its time.”

Our last correspondences were in June.  I had just interviewed an aerialist who had agreed to be part of my new project.  I told him a flood of ideas were coming just knowing that I was going to be able to incorporate this new element.  He told me it sounded exciting and was looking forward to seeing some images.  He shared a few of his latest paintings and  I told him I couldn’t wait to see them this Fall when I would return to Santa Fe for a visit.

Fire & Smoke - Ron Stark

Fire & Smoke – The last image Ron shared with me.

Coming out of the post office today I was stopped on the sidewalk by a somewhat elderly man and his wife.  They asked me to help them figure out how to use Austin’s new high-tech parking meters.  I was in a hurry, running late to help a friend move a couch.  I decided to take a few minutes and show him where to deposit his coins.  I watched and coached as he we went through two handfuls of coins.  Dropping in nickels, dimes and quarters one at a time into the machine.  When he reached the maximum deposit I showed him the green button to press that printed the ticket.  Then once he managed to get his car door unlocked I stuck the ticket to the inside of his windshield.  They thanked me and said they were off to explore the capitol.  I guess taking a little time to lend a hand to a stranger is the best way to show thanks to someone who took time for me.

Ron Stark’s Website

Artist and Author, Tom Suhler, Revisits ‘Sunshine State’ for Seventh Time in Three Years

Renowned for his ability to combine layers of beauty and nudity to evoke bold emotions in his audience, Texas artist, Tom Suhler is delighted to announce his return to Florida for the opening of his exhibit at the 530 Burns Gallery.

Austin, TX — While he resides over a thousand miles away, artist Tom Suhler’s work has been in high demand in Florida since 2010. With seven trips to the Sunshine State garnering a growing audience, Suhler is delighted to announce his return on April 12th as he brings his art to the 530 Burns Gallery in Sarasota.

Beneath the Veil

Beneath the Veil

Suhler, whose nude pieces read more like sculpture than photography, has found a receptive audience in the people and places of “The Sunshine State,” discovering a creative home amidst the vibrancy and romanticism of Florida’s artistic and cultural history.

“In some ways, it has been easier for me to find an audience here than in my home State. Floridians really seem to connect with the simple beauty of my art and understand the emotions and stories they infer,” says Suhler, who also achieved great success as far away as China.

Continuing, “People see beyond the ‘nude’ dancers and into the freedom, openness and truth that lies within each piece.”

In fact, Suhler makes it clear that the nude aspect of his work is secondary to the emotions and ideas that lie within each subject.

“It’s all in an attempt to evoke emotions in my audience. I do this through combining many layers; nudity is just one of these many layers,” he adds.

Suhler will be using the visit to exhibit pieces from two different collections. (e)Motion was created in Austin in a rented warehouse over a two and a half month period. Winding Creek emerged from a three and a half month project produced at night in a Texas Hill Country Creek. Both collections can be viewed in their entirety at

Suhler’s trip will take him throughout Southern Florida between April 12th through 20th, promoting his 530 Burns Gallery exhibit, as well as his recently released art book, UnVeiled.

To date, the book has attracted a consistent string of rave reviews.

For example, fellow artist Rom Stark said, “Suhler’s thoughts do not interfere with the viewer’s personal response to the work. He does state his ideas on what he is doing without telling the viewer what to see. What a relief! One should take notice of the simple yet powerful impact that is our basic humanity. A still life of an egg, a landscape, even a portrait of a stranger can offer that impact. And, here in UnVeiled we have Suhler’s vision.”

UnVeiled, as well as open and limited edition prints, are available through Tom’s website


Inspiration from the Dali Museum

Last week, while I was in Tampa Florida, I took an afternoon trip over to St. Petersburg.  I was hunting up some seafood and looking into the local art scene.  While I wasn’t sure what part of the peninsula would yield lunch, I knew that at some point I would spend a few hours at the Dali Museum. This would be my second visit to the Dali and would prove to be just as fulfilling as the first.

Salvador Dali Museum

Salvador Dali Museum

To start with, the museum has several architectural features that I find really interesting. The most obvious are the billowing glass windows on the bayside of the building.  A strong second is the staircase in the center of the building the self-supporting concrete spiral twists upwards, extending beyond the top floor and ending in midair.

Dali’s surrealistic paintings are a great place to let your imagination roam around unchecked.  I don’t see any need to concern myself with Dali’s  thoughts or intentions behind his work.  Instead, I allow myself to create my own stories around his imagery which ultimately leads to all kinds of inspiration for me.

The very first piece I encountered was Autum Sonata.  In it, I saw a battle raging between two people, a few lay possibly exhausted or injured and another maybe just an uninterested soul. All this set in the foreground while an unaffected city rests behind it.  I cannot help but project my preoccupations of our own current affairs on to this scene.  Exhausted by war, soldiers bare the blunt of the conflict while the country at large is unaffected.  Or a scene of drones fighting while the city on the other side of the water appears to be unscathed, for now.

Another impression I took from this visit deals with his landscapes within scenes.  I saw a commonality among many pieces of stark and mostly empty landscapes.  I enjoyed how emptiness plays as significant role as any action the scene may include.

I took away a range of emotions and ideas inspired by the works I was drawn to and wonder how they will impact the work on my current projects. I hope you have a chance to wander through his world at the Dali Museum the next time you are near St. Petersburg.

Florida Show Premieres Suhler’s Art

Two never before exhibited limited edition prints will premiere at the Orlando and Tampa Nude Nite shows. Petite Coda and Untitled 419 will be on display February 14th – 16th in Orlando and March 7th -9th in Tampa.

Petite Coda by Tom Suhler

Petite Coda by Tom Suhler

Both of the images can be seen in his recently published book UnVeiled and on his website. This will be the third year in a row my art has been selected for the Nude Nite shows, which have been reported as the largest nude art shows in America.

Untitled 419 by Tom Suhler

Untitled 419 by Tom Suhler

Art of reflection on 11th Avenue

Last Fall while I was in New York City I took my first stroll on the High Line. While walking along, I saw a building from several blocks away that caught my eye and required closer investigation. It was not the form that drew me to the building so much as its use of light.

100 11th Avenue by Jean Nouvel

100 11th Avenue by Jean Nouvel

The building turned out to be the 100 11th Avenue by Jean Nouvel. The building is in good company, sitting right across the street from Frank Gehry’s IAC building.

Its windows, in a variety of shapes and sizes, are at what appears to be randomly set angles. Light is reflected from many different sources. The effect instantly took me back to my Winding Creek project.

One of the things I came to appreciate during the months I spent lighting dancers in water at night is how waves reflect light. Each part of a wave reflects light coming from a different place. The trough to the crest heading towards you is reflecting light from just above you. The crest has a different source, and the backside of the wave yet another. Due to the curving form of a wave, the transitions between these sources is gradual. And so, when you look at a group of waves, they form complex and interesting patterns.

I took note on how you can evoke a variety of feeling depending upon how you choose to use these reflections. Jean Nouvel’s 100 11th Avenue takes this concept to another realm, where I have only started working—a kind of cubist reflection of the world surrounding the building.

The New York Times declared Jean Nouvel  “…the most original architect of his generation.”

100 11th Avenue Website