Remembering an artist: tributes to ‘Soju’

Susan (left) in Key West, Fla., with Traci Johnson Coolidge and friend Jeanette. “We were part of the Cuban Comparsa dancers,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I made Traci’s and my outfits and buddy Jeanette made her’s, Such memories!”

A graphic artist, pottery maker, author of several informational sheets of the art world she lived in.

My personal experience with Sujo was through the saving of the Dr. Pierce Barn in 1989. She did a great deal of graphic design for promotion and advertising to raise money to save the barn for another 22 years. 

She was active in Judy Cash’s attempt to develop a committee to reconstruct Judy’s carousel. Sujo organized several members of her art guild to refinish some of the carousel animals. She was instrumental in fundraising events in this time period of 1995. The project failed to get off the ground – simply not the time or the place for its success.

When I chaired the tourism committee for the Chamber, the carousel was once again mentioned as a project to bring tourism to Cottage Grove – this time in 2013. Before I committed to developing the project, I spoke with Sujo about her help in graphics design, printing placemats, all the stuff needed to have a successful campaign. She was pleased to once again help the carousel.

Over the years on projects, I would explain my thoughts and Sujo would make up the design and put the print material together – party invitations, maps, whatever.

I followed her donations and support of other organizations, such as the Humane Society of Cottage Grove. Rough drafts of their bulletin would be sent to Sujo – she would add graphics design and ready it for printing.

Sujo was raised in a family of artists – potters, porcelain doll makers. Her mother, Helen Tyrk, was the first art teacher in Cottage Grove. She taught at the original Dr. Snapp House, painted background scenery for the Dorena Grange Plays, and taught private art and pottery classes. Helen designed a doll look-alike of her daughter, Susan. This is a porcelain doll, displayed around the West Coast, at many shows.

From further reading on the Tyrk family, I would recommend Golden Was the Past, a history of Cottage Grove – pages 47-48. 

The book is available at book stores in Cottage Grove. 



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