A Figurative Collection of Art

A Seattle couple fills their Madrona home with art emphasizing the body.

At Susie McGee’s Madrona home, the walls are alive with piercing eyes, outstretched limbs and bodies in motion. “I like figurative work,” McGee says, and it makes perfect sense. Before moving to Seattle in 1994, McGee and husband Mark Lowdermilk spent 17 years as professional dancers in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Their careers have since changed—she teaches private Pilates classes in her home, he is an OB/GYN at Swedish—but the couple’s interest in the human form remains, writ large in the art that adorns the walls.

“A lot of our choreography was filled with turmoil and silent messages,” McGee says of her former dance group, Company of Four. “I like it when art has that, too.” Her collection ranges from a Gary Taxali collage that features a vomiting Mickey Mouse to Heather Romney’s spooky life-size painting of a woman with a box containing seeds inset at her abdomen, to Tim Forcade’s huge photo of a couch aflame in a field.

“I’m not drawn to pastels or landscapes,” McGee says. Her collection is contemporary, radiating a loose-limbed energy that recalls folk and outsider art. The main room of the couple’s modern home showcases figurative work by local artists, including paintings by Fay Jones and humanoid ceramics by Akio Takamori and Kensuke Yamada. The common denominator is love at first sight. “We collect when we are immediately struck by something,” she explains. “For us it’s like: bam!”

“I used to buy paintings every month—a lot of small works,” McGee confesses. “Now I try to keep it more simple. I’m more choosy.” She says she’s been honing her collection of late, in part due to a lack of empty walls, but also because she likes the way a minimalist approach feels. Lucky us: She has consigned several of her smaller pieces at Guesthouse (guesthouseseattle.com) home furnishings shop in Madison Park, where you might just encounter one for a steal.

FIND IT: McGee and Lowdermilk source the found objects in their collection from antique shops, and visit Pioneer Square galleries, including Grover/Thurston (groverthurston.com), Davidson (davidsongalleries.com), G. Gibson (ggibsongallery.com), Traver (travergallery.com) and Greg Kucera (gregkucera.com) to find art they love.