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.
Luis Cruz Azaceta’s current show at Arthur Roger Gallery, “On The Brink,” makes a statement on contemporary social and political issues. But first, one might get distracted by the artist’s flashy abstract style. Azaceta’s process of stacking primary and secondary colors in the form of polygonal shapes is eye-popping. Azaceta was born and raised in Cuba, to whose vibrant culture one may attribute his neon color palette.
On the Brink seems an unusual title for a geometric abstract painting show. The crisp geometry of traditional art deco, op art or minimalist design, like the sleek lines of modern architecture and furniture, all epitomize a kind of optimistic rationalism, but Luis Cruz Azaceta was forever marked by the chaos that characterized the Cuban revolution and his life as a youthful refugee.
Luis Cruz Azaceta: No Exit is the first substantial overview of the work of the Cuban-American artist Luis Cruz Azaceta (born 1942). Azaceta’s childhood memories in Cuba (where he remained until he was 18 years old) mix with his first professional experiences in New York City (where he studied at the School of Visual Arts and where he lived for three decades) and those of his period of professional maturity in New Orleans.
With a career spanning over 40 years and a range of media, Cuban-American artist Luis Cruz Azaceta has established himself as a singular voice of his generation. Representing not just special insight into the shifting global narratives of his home country, Azaceta has boldly employed abstraction, figuration, and conceptual practices to explore universal truths about the modern human condition.
Luis Cruz Azaceta, an artist who fled Cuba at age 18, shortly after Fidel Castro came to power, is a fitting inaugural exhibition for Miami’s new American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora.
In the main gallery, painting takes over, with pride of place reserved for two large abstract paintings by Luis Cruz Azaceta. Viewers are immediately drawn to the bright neon rainbow colors of Heroes Tale (2016), awarded Best in Show by juror Bill Arning, Director of Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
Seventy-eight original works, 48 artists: the 2016 Louisiana Contemporary presented by the Helis Foundation debuted at a VIP reception at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on Friday (Aug. 5). The exhibition officially opens tonight during Whitney White Linen Night.