Artist Don Suggs, who after graduating with three degrees from UCLA taught painting and drawing here for 31 years, has died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident on July 30. He was 74.
Suggs is remembered an exceptionally gifted and inspirational teacher. His undergraduate classes in drawing and painting were a mainstay of the art department, where many students began their first serious work at young artists.
“Don brought a formidable intellect and keen sense of humor to his interactions with students and colleagues,” said Patty Wickman, professor of painting and drawing in the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. “His dedication to teaching was felt by students at all levels who sought him out for his extensive knowledge of art history, theory and practice, and his sincere interest in their development as artists.”
Among his many contributions, Suggs offered a rigorous in-depth introduction to techniques and approaches to drawing, he organized the culminating senior exhibitions, and he served on numerous M.F.A. graduate committees.
Wickman said Suggs’ dedication to his students extended far beyond the classroom.
“He was in it for the long haul, attending every opening of every current and former student he had ever worked with,” she said. “Don was also active and deeply admired in the Los Angeles art community both as an artist, known for his inventive, changing and formally and conceptually rigorous practice, and as a highly engaged and supportive colleague.”
Suggs was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1945, but grew up in San Diego. He moved to Los Angeles in 1962 to study at UCLA, where he earned bachelor’s, master’s and M.F.A. degrees. In addition to teaching at UCLA from 1983 until his retirement in 2014, he also taught at Florida State University, Franconia College in New Hampshire, USC and Otis College of Art + Design.
In his more than 50-year career as an artist, Suggs combined stylistic influences spanning photorealism, cubism, surrealism, symbolism, pop, minimalism, assemblage, dada and abstraction and created works in painting, drawing, collage, photography and sculpture.
Suggs began showing his work at the L.A. Louver gallery in 1976, the year it was founded and the gallery presented his first solo exhibition the next year. He would have seven more solo exhibitions at L.A. Louver. The most recent show was titled “Paradise,” and it ran May through July 2016.
“Don was the first artist I represented at L.A. Louver, and it was through our 46-year personal and professional relationship, that I learnt what it meant to run a contemporary art gallery,” said Peter Goulds, founding director of L.A. Louver, in an obituary published by the gallery.
Said Wickman: “Don’s integrity as an artist, educator and person contributed significantly to the exceptional quality and prominence of UCLA's Department of Art. His loss will be deeply felt by many in our community.”
Suggs is survived by his wife, artist Linda Stark, and sister Carol Ambrosia.