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.
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.
The love of wood was spontaneous for artist John Geldersma — he’s been working with it since he was 6. “I grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans. Every spring along the banks of the river wood was plenty available,” said Geldersma, 72, during a recent phone interview from his home in Santa Fe, N.M. “I could get as much wood as I needed.”
JOHN GELDERSMA’S SCULPTURES at Chiaroscuro Gallery are imbued with both the bayou exuberance of his Louisiana background and the minimalist rigor of his East Coast training and early milieu. His work shows a loving give and take with his materials.
John Geldersma is quick to lead you around the room, explaining the purpose of his totemic sculptures, inverted poles that stand like serpents rearing on their tails which have sprouted archaic geometric heads. “See that slit?” He points to a vertical slot carved into the head of a piece. “It’s a sight.”
THE ANCIENT ARCHETYPES of various European, Caribbean, Native American, and African cultures weave together this timeless exhibition of totemic carvings by John Geldersma. With simple wood and paint, the colors of which seem almost inspired by fire, he reaches into an understanding of humanity, the history of its culture, unmistakably modem because of its far reaching universality.
The turn-of-the-century British occultist Aleister Crowley loved New Orleans, calling it “… the greatest city in America, with the best red light district this side of Cairo, a beacon of civilization surrounded by an intriguing wildness.”