by Sylvie Contiguglia for Arte-Walk Following a quiet summer, Arthur Roger Gallery is awakening with a bang. Its latest show Art in the Time of Empathy features seventy artists represented by more than one hundred works of art including paintings, sculptures, photographs and site specific installations. A playful series of shoe-mask from Maxx Sizeler leads to a spacious space lined…
The Julia Street gallery owner donated his art collection to NOMA, and the show says as much about Roger as the art he has collected.
You don’t need to be an art buff to appreciate the New Orleans Museum of Art’s most recent exhibition: “Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans.” Pride of Place celebrates art collector and gallery owner Arthur Roger’s personal collection that he gifted to the museum.
When Arthur Roger launched his gallery in 1978, there were only a handful of others focused on new art. The scene has expanded greatly since then, but Roger has more than kept abreast of the ever-changing art world through the years, as we see in this sprawling new exhibition of works from his personal collection, which he donated recently to the New Orleans Museum of Art.
It’s a safe bet to say that the contemporary art scene in New Orleans would be a lot less interesting without Arthur Roger. For nearly 40 years, his gallery has been a focal point for introducing the city to major currents in the national and international art scene, as well as for launching and nurturing the careers of some of the most prominent New Orleans-based artists working today.
[Arthur Roger’s] donation — paintings, sculpture and photography by local and national luminaries of modern art — comprises a new NOMA exhibit, “Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans.” The exhibit opens Friday and runs through Sept. 3. In the exhibit’s 143-page catalog, museum Director Susan M. Taylor describes the gift as “transformational.” It “significantly expands” NOMA’s contemporary art holdings and “reaffirms the museum’s commitment to the work of local New Orleans artists,” she said.
“Simon Gunning and the Southern Louisiana Landscape” at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. October 1, 2016 – February 5, 2017. “Did you ever stand and shiver … just because you were looking at a river?” So sang Bob Dylan’s early mentor, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, about a youthful trip to New Orleans where the Mississippi River’s inscrutable currents embodied the sense of mystery he felt here — a sensibility echoed by Simon Gunning in this sprawling retrospective. Intrigued by the Big Muddy and its contrast with the pristine shores of his native Australia, Gunning devoted much of his life to exploring its awesome charisma and the city it shaped.
New Orleanians have always enjoyed seeing themselves portrayed on the stage. Witness the perennial popularity of shows like “And The Ball and All,” not to mention the innumerable productions of “A Streetcar Named Desire” that have been mounted over the decades. To some extent, that’s been true of our tastes in visual arts as well. You never have to look very far to see a Rodrigue or a Michalopoulos poster on someone’s wall. But the deep pleasures afforded by Simon Gunning’s paintings go far beyond just local interest.
Focused on craft and dedicated to traditional methods, Gunning has sidestepped current art world fashions. But, in New Orleans, that’s just another sign that he belongs here, for the city’s distinct culture has rarely shifted to suit national tastes.
Both the light and the proportions of the new studio left a mark on Gunning’s work. About half of his forthcoming exhibit, which opens Oct. 3 at Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., was painted in the restored shotgun. (Art critic Doug MacCash included Gunning’s exhibit among the “5 Best Bets” of the annual Art for Art’s Sake openings on Saturday).