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Artist Susan Haas Recalls North Salem Childhood

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - The August art exhibit at North Salem’s Ruth Keeler Library featured the work of Susan Haas, photographer/author/artist/poet. If she looks familiar, maybe it is because she works Saturdays at the front desk of the Somers Library , or because she grew up in North Salem.

Her childhood home was near Union Hall and she remembers waking up at 4 a.m. to watch the hunt go by.

“Black coats and red coats and hounds. I think they were going up Baxter Road for an early breakfast,” she recalled. “There was an old-fashioned candy store in Union Hall. I remember a grocery store and I think the post office was nearby.”

Haas started photographing with a brownie at the age of nine. One of her early landscape shots was taken on a Girl Scout trip in North Salem. “I don’t have the picture any more,” she said, “but it’s still in my brain. There were mountains and cliffs and mist in the distance. Very beautiful.”

Haas graduated from the brownie to 35mm and she is still committed to it. “I’m in a little crunch in terms of developing,” she said. “Very few places are doing it any more.” She finds that “you don’t get the same connection to the subject with digital. I feel like I capture an emotion with my 35mm that I can’t get with digital.”

“I used to say ‘I don’t do portraits,’” she continued, “but one time a woman came to the library and I wanted desperately to paint her. She had a special softness. But she said no. She’ll wind up in one of my paintings sometime somehow.”

“I never took an art class,” said the artist. “I refused. They ‘cubicle’ you into doing things a certain way and it hampers your creativity. I did study a book on Leonardo da Vinci. But I paint out of my head. More often than not, I don’t know what it will be until my brush touches the canvas.”

Susan Hass’s photography has been exhibited at the Somers Library, the Mahopac Library and others in the area. There will be an exhibition of her work in Kingston in October.

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