By Bob Bahr
This is an important question, because it indicates why she received the Rose Award in the first place. The Rose Award is an award not given every year at the SKB Dubois Workshop—only when there is a clearly deserving recipient. This past year, Suzie Seerey-Lester won it.
The award reads, “For Best Capturing The Purpose And Spirit Of The Foundation, And As A Testimonial To Her Leadership, And The Great Respect And Admiration In Which She is Held, We Accord Her Our Highest Honor by Granting Her…The Rose Award.” And where was Suzie when the award was ready to be given?
In the kitchen, helping the kitchen crew wash dishes.
“I was so shocked when they called my name,” recalls Seerey-Lester. “I had been washing dishes and they were trying to get me out of the kitchen. They kept saying, ‘That’s OK–we can finish the rest!’ I am absolutely honored to be part of this unique award system. To be included with everyone who has won the award—it just blows me away that they recognized what I do and what my abilities are.”
We asked Seerey-Lester why she thought she got the award, and this of course embarrassed her. So she quoted the Board of Directors of the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation. “They said I got it because of the volunteering for years at SKB, and because I helped out other students, and the caring that I give to everyone here.”
The caring comes naturally. All who know her know that Seerey-Lester is a warm person with a genuine, open heart. And anyone in SKB is like family to her. “We have been doing this for about 10 years and we get to interact with people we don’t see for a year,” she says about the SKB Dubois Workshop. “We also connect with new people. We share information, friendships, jokes. And most of all we help other people and we learn from all the students as well.”
Seerey-Lester recalls when she and her husband John first heard about the SKB Dubois Workshop. “Pam and Lee [Cable] contacted John and said they wanted him to see what they were doing,” she says. “We did come out and were amazed at the concept. Anyone could learn from anyone else. Sculpture, plein air, wildlife art—it provided so many different opportunities for so many students to learn from some of the best in the world. We have seen it get better and better over the years, more instruction, better art. I don’t think there is another organization that shares this much information, ideas, instruction…And SKB rewards the creativity. The miniature show has become so good. As judges, we have had some serious discussions about who gets awards.”
Her husband John is a celebrated artist. In fact, he recently had a painting of his sold at auction for almost a quarter of a million dollars. Suzie laughed when we asked what his reaction was to her receiving SKB’s Rose Award.
“Usually, John gets the awards,” she says with a smile. “He is very proud of me winning this.” Ω