Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans celebrates art collector and gallery owner Arthur Roger’s transformational gift of his entire personal art collection to the New Orleans Museum of Art. Spotlighting one of the city’s most groundbreaking contemporary art collections, the exhibition (on view June 23–September 3, 2017) explores the rise of modern and contemporary art in New Orleans.
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.
The New Orleans Museum of Art is about to begin a John Waters film festival to celebrate a gift of photographs and a sculpture by the movie maker – part of a much larger gift from gallery owner Arthur Roger.
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.
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.
Smart, sure and silky smooth, Gordy’s acrylic canvases from the 1970s and 1980s remain a high water mark in New Orleans art. Gordy was one of those painter’s painter; his every work is a lesson in color choice, value modulation and economical design. After all these years, I imagined I’d seen all of Gordy’s mid-career works, but the shaped canvas waterfall featured on the gallery website was a revelation
Gordy was born into a fairly well-off Louisiana family. His father took over a family business in New Iberia—salt mining—when Gordy was seven and the family moved to this seeming isolation. Gordy was already dreaming of becoming an artist at this early age, and New Iberia was to deliver a lucky stroke for Gordy when he was taken under the wing of Weeks Hall, a New Iberia resident who had studied at the Pennsylvania Academy and in Paris. Hall educated Gordy about the world of art. By age 15, Gordy was winning awards for his art in Louisiana, and a Scholastic Gold Key at 18. He received a BFA and MFA from Louisiana State University.