Arthur Roger likes people who live on the fringes, the areas that orbit dominant society. “It is where I’ve discovered the most, and it’s the place I’ve found most interesting,” he says. The pull of the unconventional led him to purchase an unusual home in New Orleans’s French Quarter and amass a stunning collection of provocative art. And once he’d filled the walls with remarkable pieces, he gave them all away, leaving the white walls empty. This story looks at the moment just before that happened, capturing a snapshot from a lifetime of collecting.
Over the years, Arthur Roger nurtured artists through his art gallery opened in 1978 and in doing so, helped shape and promote the art scene of his native city. Joining the list of benefactors, he recently gifted his sizable art collection accumulated over four decades to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The eighty-seven objects, including paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, are on display this Summer for the exhibition Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans, curated by Katie Pfohl, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at NOMA.
[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.
On June 1, Arthur Roger’s personal collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs and mixed media pieces will be taken off his walls, packed away and carted over to the New Orleans Museum of Art. He recently donated more than 80 pieces to the museum, including works by national and regional artists such as Luis Cruz Azaceta, Willie Birch, Douglas Bourgeois, Robert Colescott, George Dureau, Robert Gordy, Deborah Kass, Catherine Opie, Robert Polidori, Holton Rower and John Waters, among others.
Eugenie Schwartz, an artist who found popularity and renown in her native New Orleans for her surreal, darkly humorous pieces, died on Dec. 30 at her home in the Bywater neighborhood there. She was 64.
While it may be best known for its vibrant music scene, New Orleans’ history of visual artists—painters, photographers, sculptors, video artists, and beyond—rivals that of any other city packed with sleek galleries and slick collectors. Though the local art community has lost some of its greatest inspirations in recent months—including George Dureau and George Rodrigue—the fierce passion of the city’s established and emerging artists continues to evolve and make NOLA a hotbed of creative activity. Here are 20 New Orleans Artists You Should Know.
No art exhibition could better bridge the gap between the joyous chaos of Carnival and the quiet contemplation of Lent than “Ersy: Architect of Dreams,” a 40-year retrospective of works by the New Orleans sculptor at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art through Sunday.
Ersy’s sculpture may come as a revelation because pieces that resembled impressive curiosities in her infrequent and more modest earlier exhibitions are now revealed to be integral parts of an intricately elaborated parallel universe. Comprised of strange mice and skeletal birds among other fantastical creatures, all are either tangled up in strange mechanisms or else arrayed in carnivalesque processions like her miniature Hommage to the Society of Ste. Anne (pictured) and in otherworldly settings with Max Ernst, Pauline Reage and Brothers Grimm overtones evoked by the clever use of abstract details.
Last night’s Art for Art’s Sake block party was a pleasant blur. With the temperature in the sweet seventies and not a cloud in the autumn sky – really, not one – it was the perfect night for an art promenade. Read my AFAS preview here. Julia Street was crowded, but not as cramped as August’s White Linen Night. Lines at the outdoor bars were minimal and the food I sampled – macaroni and cheese studded with lobster – was outstanding. It would have been a great night out, even if the art had not been completely captivating.
Ersy Schwartz, a sculptor, and Josephine Sacabo, a photographer, are old friends, neighbors and artistic collaborators who live in the crumbling village known as the French Quarter, in houses that are exemplars of a certain local aesthetic composed of equal parts grandeur and mystery, funk and rot. They are also fomenters of the sort of time-traveling artwork that comes with a distinctly New Orleans point of view.