Suzanne Pascal / March 19, 1914 – September 24, 2021
Essence of the Sun / Nicola Conte and Spiritual Galaxy
A friend of my mother’s was the famous painter and glass sculptress Suzzane Pascal. She lived a few blocks from our home in Beverly Hills and her glass studio was in the garage behind her home. She was a charming and eccentric woman but a true artist in every sense of the word. I went with my mother to visit her a few times in her studio where all forms of glass shapes stood in different phases of creation. Sunlight came in through the windows and made the glass sparkle like small galaxies of glass.
On one trip to visit her, she pulled one of her glass sculptures from a pedestal and handed it to my mother. “This is for my good friend,” she said. I looked at it and found it to be an amazing piece of glass with a face coming out of a piece of glass. It was one of the favorite things my mother had and when she passed away she left the Pascal head sculpture to me. It now sits in my dining room overlooking the dining room table. I am honored to have it and took some photos of it the other day in my studio. Inside the glass of the sculpture I can almost feel the incredible life she lived.
The Sculpture from Pascal I Inherited from my Mother
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Pascal was born in Miles City, Montana, on March 19, 1914, to Charles Pascal, a French restauranteur and candy maker, and Ann Kenny. Charles opened a candy store in Helena, Montana, and the family lived above the store until he died from the Spanish Flu in 1918. At age 11, she was sent by her widowed Mother to Italy where her talent for sculpture was nurtured. In Paris, she studied painting with the famed Impressionist Marcel Dyf, who instructed Pascal in the style of the old masters.
Pascal’s mother Ann attempted to keep the candy store of her diseased husband running. However, between being a woman and the ongoing flu epidemic, it was a struggle to keep the business afloat. Ann moved to Spokane with her children, Pascal and Charles. They made their home in Spokane for many years until, eventually, moving to Seattle. As a young girl, Pascal loved art and spent her days drawing and sketching. She’d sit for hours in their garden, painting the flowers, the sky and the people she’d see walking by.
Pascal also loved the theater and music, and one day, after a performance at The Paramount Theater, she met Jules Buffano. Jules was a band leader, musical composer and conductor and the two fell madly in love. They were married in 1934 and later welcomed a daughter, Suzanne Jill. Jules’ career took the family to Los Angeles where they settled for a few years, until they amicably divorced. Life would take Pascal on many adventures and down many different paths, including moving back to Seattle where she married Al Rosenberg. After his death, she moved to Beverly Hills where she made her permanent home with Ann and Jill.
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Pascal’s Home at 405 N. Elm in Beverly Hills
When Pascal first moved to Beverly Hills, money was scarce. To help make ends meet, Pascal followed in her father’s culinary footsteps and created Susie’s Caramel Corn, named after herself and her daughter. She, along with her mother and daughter, made the caramel corn, packaged it and sold it. The business became extremely successful and was eventually purchased by Laura Scudder’s.
Pascal loved to sketch and paint, but she was always intrigued by the medium of glass. She returned to sculpture in 1955 at the age of 41, determined to carve glass. It took over ten years of experimentation before she discovered a glass with the durability to withstand long hours under hammer and chisel. Her use of glass astounded the art world by establishing a new art form, and reviews of early exhibits compared Pascal’s classic forms to Rodin and Michelangelo. She discovered an abandoned glass factory in Dunbar, Pennsylvania and taught herself how to turn the enormous chunks of glass into realistic sculptures revealing the fourth dimension within.
Pascal took her sculptures to Europe where she eventually found a gallery that took a chance on an unknown artist and unknown medium. From that first gallery show Pascal’s glass sculptures would be shown in multiple galleries around the world. When one of her collectors requested a large glass sculpture to be installed outdoors, Pascal added a third art medium, stainless steel. She knew glass would crack over time if displayed outdoors, but stainless steel would be able to survive the elements.
Pascal’s collectors grew in number, and she became almost as well known for her festive dinner parties as for her art. She would cook her famous pasta sauce and show her latest works of art while the champagne flowed and music played late into the night.
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Pascal went on to marry James Regan and, when she wasn’t in her studio sculpting or painting, the two of them traveled the world together. From Paris to London to Ireland, cruising down the Amazon and through the Panama Canal, visiting the pyramids in Egypt and making multiple trips to Japan, Pascal was inspired by the beauty she saw on her travels. And that inspiration was displayed in her paintings and sculptures.
Pascal not only created incredible art that is displayed in museums, private collections and institutions across the Globe, but she created her own unique style. From her tailored men’s suits to her inimitable hairstyle inspired on one of her trips to Japan, she was never one to blend in. She loved Oreos and chocolate cake, champagne and caviar, “les girls” lunches, and collecting books on the world’s greatest artists.
Pascal in her Studio At 104 Years Old
Over her 107½ years, Pascal was as tough as the glass she carved. As polished as her stainless steel sculptures. As colorful as her paintings. She left a legacy not just of art and family but of what’s possible when you live life on your own terms, doing what you love, with the people who inspire and support you.