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.
“Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans” an exhibition of works is on view at New Orleans Museum of Art. The exhibition is a narrative about space, identity, and a sense of belonging in New Orleans’ contemporary art scene over the course of the last four decades. The selection of works on display showcases renowned art collector and gallery owner Arthur Roger’s entire personal art collection which he has gifted to the Museum.
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.
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.
ARTISTS ARE ALWAYS willing to share the bounty of the view in ways that forever reinforce and redirect our forever-wandering gaze, thus narrowing the passage of our distraction. Perhaps in an effort to jar us into looking more closely at the aftermath of progress, Canadian Edward Burtynsky presents a series of color photographs collectively titled “Intentional Landscapes” at Arthur Roger Gallery that defy orientation and require detailed titles to let us know just where and what we are looking at in the picture window images.
For Christopher Saucedo’s exhibition at Arthur Roger, “Neapolitan (Comic Book Diplomacy, Go Cups and Water Bottle Buoys),” a digital print picturing three cups of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla colored drinks serves as the visual metaphor that the title indicates. Saucedo says he made this piece to try to encapsulate the whole three-part show. According to his research, after Italians brought gelato to America, the three most popular flavors were vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. In turn, three distinct bodies of work join in the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Before Katrina, Saucedo was fascinated with how people related to water, specifically how much water we displace or take up. One of his earliest experiments involved the artist stepping into a large barrel of water in order to assess his fluid volume. It wasn’t until after Katrina that he began thinking creatively and critically about clean water and its availability.
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.