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.
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.
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.
John Waters has been thinking a lot about the half-century lately. Mr. Waters, the filmmaker, author, artist, performer and provocateur, was considering the passage of time because on Friday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will unveil Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?
“Using an insider’s bag of tricks and trade lingo, Waters celebrates the excess of the movie industry. Word and image play permeate Waters’ work, and the movie industry and its various sleights of hand are a common target. Always ambitious and playful, some of the works are condensed narratives or “little movies” as Waters calls them. Waters wickedly juxtaposes images from films and television that he captured by photographing his television set as they play.”