Goodbye Suzie: A Tribute To One of The Creative Lights of Art & Antiques
On December 1, 2016, the design industry said goodbye to creative and spiritual bright light, Sandra “Suzie” Mackintosh Buhalis, who past from breast cancer, at age 72. Sandra was known throughout the industry as a visionary artist, sculptor and dealer of unique folk art and Americana. Her optimism and spirituality touched those she came in contact with, developing life long friends and dedicated customers to her gallery East Market Street Antique Shop [1993-2015] located at 25 East Market Street, Red Hook, NY.
Born on July 2, 1944 in Detroit, MI to James Daniel Mackintosh [1905-1970], a US government contractor and Sarah Georgiana (Shepherd) Mackintosh [1911-1993], a homemaker, artist and seamstress, Sandra, one of five children, was a proud decedent of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh [1868-1928] and kept her father’s sir name throughout her life.
From 1962 to 1965, Sandra studied art at The Art School of the Society of Arts and Crafts [aka: The Center of Creative Studies & The College for Creative Studies] in Detroit. The school, founded in 1905, was a stronghold of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America, championing human craft. Sandra studied painting and sculpture along side fellow student and artist Louise Nevelson [1899-1988]. Both ladies were to explore the possibilities of humble materials and the industrial object throughout their careers.
While attending The Art School of Arts and Crafts, Sandra fell deeply in love with its Assistant Director, painter Nicholas Buhalis [1929-1994]. Nicholas directed the school from 1954 to 1964, leaving for Upstate New York after the couple was marred in 1965.
In 1965, Sandra attended Silvermine College in New Canaan, CT [1967-1969], furthering her art and understanding while husband Nicholas taught at the the Woodstock School of Art and then co-found the Kingston School of Art.
The couple were blessed with two children, one boy and one girl. Son, Jason Mackintosh Buhalis, would grow up to be a creative engineer and photographer and daughter Elektra Kyria Buhalis, a muralist and scenic painter.
Sandra continually developed her art. She began as a painter but preferred sculpture. Sandra’s goal had always been to bring life to utilitarian objects of the past. She created large wooden totemic forms, which in her own words, “longed for a rich and powerful connection with spirit.”
Her work was well received, and by 1982, she was represented by top New York City art gallery, Cordier & Ekstrom. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, Newark Museum, Hood Museum at Dartmouth, Goldman Sachs Collection and the Shearson Lehman Collection. In 1992, Sandra was part of a group show at the Guggenheim.
Sandra re-married in 1993 to second husband, Nobel Poet Laureate, Johnny “Jack” Crawford, Jr. [1914-2011] and opened East Market Street Antique Shop to share her love of items of the past. She considered the shop a carefully, artfully curated museum—a living art work—rather than a traditional antique shop. She would not be inclined to sell anything to anyone who wasn’t as passionate about a collection as she was. “My clients, who come from all over the country, are those rare souls who find grace and beauty in ‘useless, wonderful’ things!” Sandra once said during an interview. Many of her collections took more than twenty or thirty years to gather, collect and curate. Her collections where varied and reflected American life, like a wall hanging of examples of historic barbwire used by local farmers.
On October 24, 2015, the Hyde Park Country Auction offered many of Sandra’s prized curated collections and sculptural arrangements in the Sandra Mackintosh Buhalis Collection.
Sandra leaves her children and grand-children whom she dearly loved. She cherished the time she got to be with them playing frisbee and tennis.
Sandra Mackintosh Buhalis
I have decided to write my obituary to spare others from having to dig up facts which don’t record a life lived and loved. Not much to tell. I was born in Michigan to a large family with five siblings, all very creative and tortured, trying to unite the divide between “Cosmos and Cosmopolitan.” I am number five, the number denoting change.
Perhaps I was the one chosen to heal the enormous legacy burden.
My father was an elegant soul, descended from a king, and consciously or unconsciously carried the mantle with great sensitivity and regard for life and all of its inhabitants, all these centuries later. My mother was a driven creative being in all that she did. Her one desire in life was to attend the art school where I later matriculated and married the Assistant Director. No accident there.
A difficult birth kept me largely connected to Source and that has been my mainstay and my path. I feel as though I have never “chosen” but have been deftly directed by the seminal primal forces that might direct each of us if we allow. A difficult but privileged life, my path has been strewn with remarkable souls who have defined and redefined me in so many ways. I am the product of you all — seen and unseen.
There have been four Christines (Christ-ines) who have kept me feeling loved and buoyed throughout this journey.
My son Jason Mackintosh who is so aligned with Source that he has brought Creation’s plan for me (and perhaps all of us) into clear focus. “Allow and embrace all that is. No resistance.” Many lifetimes’ work for most of us.
My daughter Elektra Kyria — the vigilant, intelligent, creative watcher and caregiver whose insights are astounding and whose devotion to truth is clear and brave and immoveable.
A stepson and his caring wife who have been generous and supportive in all matters. A courageous stepdaughter who has weathered Mt. Everest with uncanny ease as she embraces “things as they are.”
Steve Cohen who has helped me birth so much powerful sculpture (channeled to me by the grace of Creation) with his patient, compassionate and gifted hands and regard for beauty.
For Alexander Obelensky, grandson of Czar Nicholas, who has recreated Tesla’s magnetic resonator and uses it for healing purposes that have not yet become mainstream.
For Dr. Art Adel who founded the rings around Saturn and who spent the night with me at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff watching the perihelion between the moon, sun, and earth.
I have been gifted by many souls who have worked tirelessly to make “invisible things visible” to me. Years ago I was in the elevator in the Fuller Building in NYC and Robert Hughes, the Australian art critic, was also in the elevator and asked me to say something about my work (which had been meaningfully reviewed by many) to which I replied “if I could speak of it I would be Cicero and I wouldn’t stop talking!” He said “Could you give me four words?” Source gave me those words clearly and succinctly: “genuine impulse faithfully followed!”
There are countless of you who have stepped forward with such loving and generous hearts (you know who you are) and this has sustained me and held me here beyond my capacity to hold this life by myself. Food is love and there have been so many who have have helped me to sustain my body with nourishment that has created a wonderful living fullness and life in spite of the medical facts and diagnosis. Dr. Randall Rissman who has tirelessly and patiently shared the endless depth of his soul for the past thirty-five years and comforted me throughout many life changes. Alfonso Cutugno, painfully sensitive oncologist who has held my hand and heart in a most delicate balance. Dr. Robert Smith, radiation oncologist, who jumped through hoops to provide loving and timely care when needed.