The work of John Suttman can be found all over La Posada, from the ornate gates, fused-glass lanterns, and the Turquoise Room Bar; to the recreated Wishing Well, Hubbell-Joe Rug exhibit, and Sculptural Winch to raise and lower the cantilevered wall.
The Arcade Gallery at Affeldt Mion Museum is dedicated to John’s work and features some of his Furniture, as well as photographs of works he’s done around La Posada over the years. Even the multi-paned windows to enclose this once-open space were crafted by John.
“In regards to my work, I did go through a furniture phase. Early in my sculpture career, I was curious to see what sorts of furniture I could create using metal as the primary medium. It was a personal challenge from which I learned a lot about using metals that I might not have otherwise. In the beginning much of my furniture was rather conventional in design but I knew I would push design parameters further with each piece I made; that was the challenge. Whimsy was not an ultimate design motivation it was simply an obvious option to play with. Deconstruction and reinterpretation of traditional design was a primary motivator all along coupled with humor and various cultural/social commentaries.My non-furniture Sculpture (seen below) has more to do with mystery, discovery, metaphysics, and…” – John Suttman
Albuquerque native John Suttman began a successful career as a designer/fabricator of high-end fashion jewelry after his graduation from the University of New Mexico. Ultimately his interest in furniture and predilection for metal fabrication merged. “Furniture,” says John, “is all about people. It’s our alter ego.” John playfully tweaks and distorts familiar objects, turning them into works of art. In addition to furniture, he enjoys designing and building gates, using steel as his canvas.
One such gate can be found at the Albuquerque Museum. This gate to the west sculpture garden fuses form and function in a dynamic and engaging artwork. Created in 1994, the gate consists of solid overlapping metal contrast with windows filled with different rhythmic lines, grids, and spirals.
Several historic buildings in downtown Winslow have been transformed into live/work studio spaces, thanks to the rehabilitation of La Posada. John Suttman lives in one such space. In 2012, he and partner Joan Harden bought what was once the Winslow Auto Supply building and transformed it into a showpiece home and studio.
“I had often dreamed of doing this in Ventura, CA where we were living but building codes and real estate costs made that highly unlikely. Winslow, on the other hand, was very amenable to this sort of idea in the hopes of attracting new people and businesses to their downtown. We were up for the challenge but had no idea it would be as difficult and time-consuming. Six years into the project we are still not quite finished with the details but have a fully functional and terrific living and workplace in the easy-going and diverse community of Winslow.”
The most significant reimagining of this building was the addition of a center atrium. John and crew cut out a large section of roof to create a spectacular garden space in the center of this building. The living room, kitchen, bedroom, and both John and Joan’s offices look out into the garden, filled with lights and shadows, plants and sculptures.
One of John’s many contributions to La Posada and the gardens, was the recreation of the Wishing Well.
“After almost 54 years of being absent from our gardens the Wrought Iron Wishing Well was restored to La Posada’s South Lawn on November 21, 2011 The original wishing well was at the center of many photographs taken by tourists from 1930 to 1958, including this young couple on their honeymoon in the 1940s (left image). In 1958 the wishing well along with most of La Posada’s interior furnishings was loaded in freight cars and taken to Albuquerque for auction. This handmade reproduction wishing well was created by nationally recognized craftsman John Suttman (below.) It weighs 300 pounds and has handworked iron up to 1 inch thick (it is actually more substantial than the original).” (From a 2011 Facebook Post)