Column by DeAnn Lubell

Last week, I had the pleasure of profiling high desert composer and performer Pat Kearns.  This week, I have the pleasure of profiling his beautiful wife and performance partner, Susan Kearn.  Susan is a gifted bass player and visual artist, who also happens to be a hairstylist.  She and Pat have lived in a homestead cabin in Landers near Goat Mountain since 2017.  It is an isolated, serene, and quiet environment that lends itself well for both to create enjoyable music and art in their newly built recording and art studio on the property.

When it comes to Susan’s surreal art, well, according to her, she breaks the general rules.

“I brush, pour, and splatter combining oil and water-based paints to create dreamlike images of creatures and landscapes,” said Susan.  “Surprises happen in the drying.  Cracking, peeling, scratches, and imperfections are desirable to me.  I use reclaimed materials. Wood that was part of an old homestead.  Lumpy old house paint.  I draw on abstract memories of people and places.  Each piece comes to life in its own unique way and becomes like an old friend.”


Born in a small coal mining town in the Pocono Mountains in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, Susan displayed a love and talent for art early on.  She received a BFA from Kutztown University in 1988.  She settled in Philadelphia until relocating to Portland, Oregon in 2003 where she met her husband, Pat.  When she visited the Morongo Basin in the spring of 2013, she immediately fell in love with the high desert terrain, which has been a major inspiration for her work ever since.

“I focus on expressionist portraits landscapes in oil and industrial material,” said Susan.  “I strive to capture the emotional intensity of the desert in my art.  Working alone in my studio, I try to tap into the energy of my subjects to capture their stories.  A session often ends up in laughter or tears.”

Susan has been influenced by Richard Diebenkorn, Frank Kline, Jean Michelle Basquiat, Willem D Kooning, the American West – especially the Mojave Desert.  Susan Kearns can be reached at

Photos of artwork by Pat Kearns | Profile credit Pat Kearns | Headshot credit by Rachelle Skidmore