A passionate advocate for young artists, Suzy Greenberg invested her money and business savvy in the founding of two Minneapolis art galleries.

She died Thursday after collapsing during an exercise routine at the Firm, a Minneapolis workout studio. She was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she could not be revived.

Greenberg, 44, founded her namesake gallery Soo Visual Arts Center (SooVAC) in 2001 and made the Lyndale Avenue organization into a mainstay of the Minneapolis art scene.

"In a gallery you want great lighting, a great support staff and a good crowd, and Suzy did all of those things in spades," said Rob Davis, director of communications at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, her alma mater.

For years, Greenberg mentored graduates of the school, where she earned an MFA degree in 1998. She regularly staged the college's MFA shows, then nurtured the graduates' careers with curatorial advice, studio visits, grant recommendations and even suggestions of books to read.

She was also a founder of the cooperative Rosalux Gallery and an active art collector whose purchases boosted the confidence of young artists early in their careers. Her own art was conceptual in nature, including light boxes and other ephemera that she constructed in a studio in the SooVAC building.

Two years ago, Greenberg turned over SooVAC's day-to-day operations to a staff but retained the title of artistic director and continued to curate shows and oversee the exhibition program.

"Her commitment never stopped once she invested in an artist," said Carolyn Payne, SooVAC's executive director.

The unexpected death shocked SooVAC staffers because of Greenberg's apparent fitness. "She was really healthy as far as we knew," Payne said. "She worked out every day and had a big meditation practice."

Greenberg was born in New York and grew up there and in Greenwich, Conn.

She is survived by her partner, Tod Lane, and other relatives. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Mary Abbe • 612-673-4431