Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

photo: Bill Timmerman ©1999

Scottsdale, AZ



Barbara Rogers Dreaming of Eden: Meditations on the Garden


"Barbara Rogers Dreaming of Eden: Meditations on the Garden" opens in the Virginia Ullman Gallery of the Scottsdale Center for the Arts February 25, and remains on view through May 7, 2000.

Artist Barbara Rogers explores the power and beauty of nature through paintings of surreal, dream-like visions of her natural surroundings. Using the garden as a metaphor for the cycles of life, her work addresses the issues of chaos and order, landscape and abstraction, fragility and power. Rogers views the garden as the fundamental point where nature and culture convene. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalog. (left: Expeditions to Paradise: Celebrating Villa Gamberia #1, 1999, mixed media, linen, wood, 44 x 72 inches, courtesy of the artist)

In the words of the contemporary art historian, Paul Eli Ivey, "Rogers has moved from a conception of nature as a contrivance for exotic romance to an idea of nature as the powerful provenance of creation and destruction. A single unified super-real style has been replaced by a layering of styles, which vibrantly suggests the very modern history of the possibilities of representational art....Rogers' work has left an experience of the fragility and power of nature. It might suggest the importance of our own engagement in the protection and veneration of the natural environment."

Born in a rural community in northern Ohio, Rogers graduated from Ohio State with a Bsc in Art Education. Immediately after completing her degree, Rogers moved to California, where she studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute with Richard Deibenkorn, Elmer Bischoff and Frank Lobdell. At the California College of Arts and Crafts, she studied life drawing with Nathan Oliviera and in 1963 received the Eisner Prize and a MA in Painting from the
University of California at Berkeley.
(left: Emblems of the Microcosm #4, 1999, oil on canvas, 84 x 60 inches, courtesy of the artist)

For many years thereafter, Rogers used the airbrush to create large, super surreal canvasses that depicted "eroticized" subjects in lush, tropical gardens. This focus changed after the artist traveled to Hawaii in the early '80s where she witnessed the aftermath of the devastating hurricane Eiwa. Rogers, who had planned to visit several private gardens while in the area, was never able to accomplish this goal due to the destruction caused by the storm. Feeling lucky to have escaped with her life, Rogers returned to her studio in Oakland, bringing with her photographs she had taken of the detritus left from the storm, as well as samples of the plant debris. Once back in California, she began examining the havoc wrecked by Eiwa, and started focusing her work on the micro and the macro, and on changes brought about by age and trauma to plant forms in a landscape. In so doing, she was no longer satisfied using an airbrush and acrylics, and commenced experimenting with oils.

This led to researching and visiting new gardens, where Rogers explores in a painterly process not only the relationships in forms and colors that are unique to that site, but also the history of the evolution of the garden and the people or person who created it. Rogers says, "In certain series, I combine painting with photography and some works include actually plant part that were considered debris taken from certain gardens."

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalog. The exhibition is organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Gina Cavallo Collins, Associate Curator of Exhibitions. Funding for the exhibition catalog was provided by the Richard Florsheim Art Fund and John and Rosalie Stone.This exhibition is part of the Valley-wide project, "Sites Around the City: Art and Environment," March - April 2000. The project integrates permanent and temporary artworks, exhibitions at museums and galleries, and educational programs and events. Guides are available at all participating venues.

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