It’s Wednesday, June 19 and 8:46pm in Downtown New Orleans.
In 1978 Arthur Roger opened his gallery at 3005 Magazine Street in New Orleans’ Garden District. A year earlier the Contemporary Arts Center had opened in downtown New Orleans. The artistic scene in the city was beginning to burgeon. The Arthur Roger Gallery moved to the forefront of galleries in the city. The gallery attracted a number of New Orleans’ most prominent artists including Robert Gordy and Ida Kohlmeyer.
As interest grew rapidly in the uptown galleries, Arthur Roger played a leading role in forming the New Orleans Gallery Association and in arranging the remarkably successful coordinated exhibition openings which would transform the art scene in New Orleans. The gallery was selected to assist in assembling several major corporate collections including the Hotel Inter-Continental in New Orleans, the Pan- American Life Insurance Company and the Aquarium of the Americas. By 1984 the gallery was gaining national recognition and was selected for participation in the Chicago International Art Exposition where it has continued to exhibit each year. The gallery has also been included in the Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle Art Fairs. In 1984 the Arthur Roger Gallery played a central role in arranging the large Louisiana Arts exhibition at the World’s Fair in New Orleans. The exhibit was regarded as one of the most successful at the Exposition. In 1985 the Arthur Roger Gallery presented a successful month long group show in New York at the Exhibition Space at 112 Greene St. in SoHo.
In 1988 the Arthur Roger Gallery moved to a new carefully planned 5,100 square foot space with three separate exhibition areas in the historic Warehouse District in downtown New Orleans. The space, designed by architect Wellington Reiter, one of the gallery’s artists, was described by the Times-Picayune art critic as “establishing a world class standard of excellence for new art galleries in New Orleans.” A tribute to the new gallery was published in Architecture and the gallery also received an Alpha Group Award for excellence in interior design. In both 1988 and 1989 the Arthur Roger Gallery originated and hosted the Art Against AIDS Ornament Exhibition, which in its first year became one of the top ten fundraisers in New Orleans. The Ornament show received the 1991 Mayor’s Arts Award.
Arthur Roger opened a New York Gallery from 1991 until 1994. Artists from Louisiana who received their first New York exhibit included Douglas Bourgeois, George Dureau, Gene Koss and Ersy Schwartz. Willie Birch, Clyde Connell, James Drake and Richard Jolley also exhibited at the Arthur Roger Gallery in New York. The gallery continues to present curated exhibitions. One of the most successful past exhibits, “Fear of Painting,” was curated by Dan Cameron and featured the works of Lee Gordon, Jane Hammond, Deborah Kass, Marilla Palmer, Lari Pittman, Archie Rand, Alexis Rockman, David Sandlin, Megan Williams and Sue Williams.
In the early 90’s artists receiving one person exhibitions at the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans included Charles Arnoldi, Derek Boshier, Roger Brown, Robert Colescott, R. M. Fisher, Peter Halley, Robert Hull, Leonard Koscianski, Clarence Laughlin, Peter Saul, James Surls, Bruce Weber, Joel-Peter Witkin and Philip Wofford. Throughout its history the gallery has presented several superb photography exhibitions including in recent years Debbie Fleming Caffery, Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Tom Bianchi, Joel-Peter Witkin, and John Dugdale. In both 1997 and 1998 the Arthur Roger Gallery was selected for inclusion in Richard Polsky’s Art Market Guide as one of the 36 most influential galleries in the contemporary American art market. The author of the guide who is a contemporary art dealer in San Francisco described the Arthur Roger Gallery as striking, “just the right balance between showing local artists and artists of national repute.” Polsky referred to the gallery as anchoring the New Orleans art scene.
At the beginning of 2003, Douglas Bourgeois had a major retrospective at the Contemporary Arts Center. In the same year the Arthur Roger Gallery was asked by the Renaissance Arts Hotel in New Orleans’ Arts District to open The Project Space, a gallery located on the ground floor of the hotel.
In late summer 2005 Katrina devastated enormous areas in New Orleans but the Arts District and the gallery were largely spared. Many gallery artists, however, had overwhelming losses both to their homes and to their work.
The gallery helped to spearhead efforts for the renewal of the visual arts in New Orleans. In January, 2006 the Arthur Roger Gallery arranged a panel discussion to address the enormous challenges for the visual arts posed by the widespread destruction of Hurricane Katrina.
Dan Cameron was one of the three panel members and he acknowledges that the discussion that night was a seminal event that would lead to his organizing Prospect.1, the international art biennial in New Orleans that would receive critical acclaim in late 2008.
Luis Cruz Azaceta, Willie Birch, Trenton Doyle Hancock and Srdjan Loncar were gallery artists selected for inclusion in Prospect.1.
In the fall of 2006, Arthur Roger curated the award winning exhibition “Katrina: Catastrophe and Catharsis” which opened at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
In January 2007, Michael Klein, executive director of the International Sculpture Center curated ?New Urban Vistas,? an important exhibition of major national and international photographers who employed urban settings as the focus of their imagery.
In January 2008, the gallery exhibited Robert Polidori’s dramatically moving images of Katrina destruction. His moving color photographs were taken just days after the storm passed over the city.
In April 2008, the Arthur Roger Gallery celebrated its 30th anniversary with an impressive group exhibition both at the gallery and at The Project Space.
Sadly in 2007 and 2008 the gallery lost two of its most beloved artists. In September of 2007 John Scott passed away in Houston after a long courageous struggle against lung disease. Just a few weeks before the arrival of Katrina, John Scott had completed a highly successful retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
In May 2008, Elemore Morgan, Jr. had a superb exhibition at the gallery that included dramatic paintings of the New York skyline. Just a few weeks after the exhibition, Elemore died following heart surgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation selected Douglas Bourgeois to create the 2008 Jazz Fest poster. His stunning painting of Irma Thomas is regarded as one of the very best posters in the storied history of the Festival.
In November 2008, Arthur Roger@434 was opened as a new additional gallery adjacent to 432 Julia. Arthur Roger@434 is already under consideration for design awards. The Project Space no longer functions as a gallery but continues as a venue for exhibiting work by gallery artists.
DETAILS432 Julia St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
New Orleans ranked #2 employment market in the country Manpower
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New Orleans listed as 1 of 5 safe havens to ride out the recession Christian Science Monitor
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Downtown welcomes approximately 120,000 people on a given week-day, enough to make it the fourth largest city in Louisiana
New Orleans ranked #1 Top Cities for Information Jobs in the U.S. Forbes
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Downtown is the largest employment center in Louisiana with 62,000 jobs