Willie Birch: Looking Back, 1978 – 2003

Exhibition Dates: October 2 – 30, 2010
Location: Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 2, 6 – 9pm, in conjunction with Art for Art’s Sake
Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm
Contact Info: 504.522.1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com

Arthur Roger Gallery is pleased to present a selection of paintings and papier-mâché pieces by Willie Birch completed between 1978 and 2003. The exhibition will be on view from October 2 – October 30, 2010 at the Arthur Roger Gallery, located at 432 Julia Street. The gallery will host an opening reception to meet the artist on Saturday, October 2, from 6 to 9 pm, in conjunction with Art for Art’s Sake.

Memories of the 60's, 1992

This exhibition of Willie Birch’s work brings together a series of paintings and sculpture dating from 1978 to 2003 that focus on both the celebratory nature of the people of New Orleans as well as stories of their everyday life.

Among the works featured in the exhibition are Birch’s papier-mâché sculptures. In the mid 1980’s, Birch began using papier-mâché and created a series of sculpture that explored black identity and culture. This body of work was the first time Birch combined his fine arts background with his newfound interest in folk art. His idea to use papier-mâché stemmed from a visit home to New Orleans in which he came across a papier-mâché crucifix on display at the St. Louis Cathedral. Birch states, “Some part of me is always searching for a metaphor, and paper became a metaphor to me for what is fragile and what is wasteful in this culture, and the idea of challenging what is considered precious.” Also featured in the exhibition will be several large-scale paintings Birch completed in the 90’s and early 00’s. These paintings depict scenes that document African American culture in New Orleans and emphasize their body language, dress codes, and everyday rituals.

Birch was born in New Orleans in 1942. He received a B.A. from Southern University in New Orleans in 1969 and a M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 1973. After residing in New York for many years and traveling to Africa, he returned to New Orleans in the mid 90’s to reside in the 7th Ward.

The work of Willie Birch is found in museum collections as well as public and private collections across the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Birch was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1984 and again in 1989. In 1993 he was the recipient of a John Guggenheim Fellowship in sculpture. In 2002 Birch received the Mayor”s Arts Award in New Orleans.

For additional information please contact the Arthur Roger Gallery at 504.522.1999 or visit our Web site www.arthurrogergallery.com.