Inside Suzanne Marie Lambert’s East Walnut Hills home.
Taking a step into artist Suzanne Marie Lambert’s cozy East Walnut Hills home is like strolling through a three-dimensional scrapbook — every surface is laden with trinkets from multiple continents, family photographs, colorful art and an array of inspiring quotes.
Friends often gasp that it feels like a museum and after exhibiting her personal artwork in France, Germany, Hungary, Spain and many U.S. cities, one would only expect Parisian flea-market treasures, Algerian baubles and mementos from New Mexico nature walks to cluster into a personal archive. Lambert’s sense of creating an aesthetic journey through artifacts and portraitsis not only prevalent in her home, but her artwork as well.
Lambert lives the artist’s dream of being a painter, photographer and sculptor, traveling to various cities and leaving her paintings in galleries and homes like footprints left behind. Nestled among the historic mansion-style domiciles of East Walnut Hills, her home is perfectly niched between the bustle of downtown and the eclecticism of O’Bryonville.
Although she spent many years living in the sunlight and warmth of South Beach and time in Paris, Lambert loves the convenience and collaboration Cincinnati has to offer.
“Once I moved here, I got immersed in it," Lambert says. "There's a really strong connection between artists here and working together. I think that Cincinnati is getting a name for itself in visual arts.”
Lambert used to have a studio in a large, local warehouse, but traveling out of her home never seemed to be on her agenda. “I ended up never going there because I didn’t feel like leaving,” she says. “I always ended up painting in my kitchen.”
Luckily, Lambert’s large, high-ceilinged dining room is all the escape she needs to create her abstract, vibrant-hued murals and paintings. Cacti and art supplies line the long hand-painted windows, which bring in enough sunlight to illuminate the room like a Southwestern sun parlor.
When inspiration subsides in Cincinnati, Lambert turns to her studio in the south side of Paris, which she visits three times a year. However, she’s always happy to leave the sidewalks of the City of Light and return home. “I kind of live in my studio now, it’s taken up my whole house.” See her work at suzannemarielambert.com.
“Most of my paintings I do as sort of an expression or reflection of a place I’ve been or a person that I know,” Lambert says. “I’ve done a lot of paintings about Paris. Sometimes I write things on the side in distressed French.” Her paintings can be found around Cincinnati in Urban Eden in OTR, Cafe De Paris in Garfield Park and many homes throughout the city.
Walking across Lambert’s paint-splotched canvas floor emits the feeling of walking across an artist’s palette. “I save the canvas that I use as a floor drop and stretch it, frame it and sell them,” she says.
Handwritten and cut-out quotes from Henry David Thoreau and Marcel Duchamp are juxtaposed on the wall next to photos of Andy Warhol and an image of Miles Davis, peering from a postcard with a confident gaze. All of these chosen words reflect Lambert’s daily mantra, “They’re what I want to remind myself,” she says. One of her favorite quotes comes from Victor Hugo: “There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”
“I crave color, I desire light” is a quote Lambert penned many years ago, which ruminates throughout her work. This corner of her dining-room-turned-studio is her “place of contemplation, rumination, reading, writing, picture-looking and dreaming.” The windows behind the chair are a pair from her vast collection of abandoned windows, which she paints, adding a trendy yet rustic feel throughout the home.
“Sometimes you’ll be on the Metro in Paris and I’ve seen these gypsy guys just jump on the Metro and start playing ... it’s so fun because they’re always so free and into it and they’re rockin’ it and that’s how they make a living,” she says. This inspiration has led Lambert to pursue the accordion. “My fantasy is this: I just want to have an exhibition and when everybody’s there I’ll just whip out the accordion and start playing.”
“A photograph is a painting made with other tools,” Lambert says. One of Lambert’s favorite subjects to photograph is people, from musicians to her own family. Family portraits ornament the mantelpiece and bookshelves. Black and white portraits of her son compliment teal and orange photos of Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe — Lambert’s favorite female painters.
Lambert dismisses traditional notebook buying for a new, upcycled approach: turning colorful catalogue pages blank again. “I decided that instead of throwing away books, you know, little brochures, I thought that if I painted pages, then I can draw in them and use them as journals,” she says.
“This one, I’ve already started using as my journal,” she says.
"I have many groups of photographs of my family and loved ones around my place. The two photos, which can be seen, are one of me sitting on a sidewalk curb at Findlay Market; my granddaughter is just in view over my right shoulder. The other photograph is of my grandmother, Torah Lambert, who I adored. She lived to be 102 years old," Lambert says. "Also you [can] see a small ceramic bowl. I made this bowl when I was in 8th grade. It was the first clay I ever worked with. I was really into hand-painting little blue flowers on my creations at that time."
Rustic colors are often seen in Lambert’s paintings, influenced from her frequent visits to her daughter in Albuquerque. “The skull was a gift from a longtime, dear friend," she says. "My favorite things to do in the Southwest are to hike, photograph, paint, eat local foods, mostly enjoying the big, blue sky, mountains and my family, of course.”
photos by Jesse Fox