George Rogers Loves Art—And Wants You To Love It, Too – Art Issue
Since 2019, ptownie has been featuring a section in the newsletter and magazine called Art We Love. Founder Mike Miller had long wanted to promote art in town, but it wasn’t until he met George Rogers that the idea jelled. “I told him that I didn’t want to do art criticism,” says Rogers, “and he assured me I wouldn’t have to. It’s really just the opportunity to explore why I love so much of what is happening in the art scene in town.”
“It’s fun to write and I like the intellectual challenge. Writing the column makes me think about work that is not necessarily my own taste—after all, it’s art we love.”
Rogers majored in art history and studio art at Bowdoin College before opting for a different career path, doing development and fundraising for museums such as the Smithsonian and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
But he loves living in Provincetown and being surrounded by art. “I get to look at a lot of art, and I do it more regularly now,” he says. “Every two weeks in the summer I write about four pieces of art. It’s made me much more aware of what’s going on out there. Every year I’m amazed by the things I don’t know.”
He also likes how his column enables him to challenge readers as well. “It’s motivating to try to get at what’s exciting about this piece, and hopefully engage people in a dialogue with it. I hope when people read the column it opens their eyes to something, to see a work in a different way—or see it at all. I hope I spark questions, interest and responses.”
It helps that Rogers is himself an artist, favoring still life and also exploring the famous Provincetown light through landscape. “I took a pastel class at PAAM one summer. So then I had this set of pastels and began to work in that medium.…I started out doing still lives because they’re easy to set up.…And really, it’s what everybody says—here in Ptown it’s about the light. I’ve done a whole series showing light on buildings” (pictured).
So, he brings an artist’s eye and perspective to his work for ptownie. Still, writing the column has been eye-opening for him. “I’m always amazed at how many dedicated artists are here,” he says. “They’re outside when it’s 35 degrees. I wish I had that tenacity, that devotion to the work.”
He distinguishes between “art we love” and “art I want to live with” and enjoys the challenge of going deeply into a piece while monitoring his reaction to it. “I understand that something can be compelling, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily want to live with it.”
He doesn’t generally share his own art background and practice with others. “People don’t know I’m an artist. Like many, I’m reluctant to put myself out there.” But that never stops him from using that acumen as a lens through which to see others’ work. “I ask myself, why is this piece really speaking to me? And in fact I learn from everything I’m seeing. I compare my own technique to theirs, and it makes me feel that maybe I can push myself to be looser, bolder, more spontaneous.”
But it all comes back to Rogers’ reaction to and relationship with the art he’s viewing. “It’s important that people know that the column isn’t pretending to speak for anyone but me,” he says. “It’s not, this is what the artist is saying. I’m saying, this is what I like and why I like it. I try not to be pedantic about it.” He’s always happy to meet the artist, but that’s by no means a requirement. “It’s a visceral response,” he says.
So what happens when he’s run out of art to review? He laughs. “I can’t see that happening,” he says. “There’s this interesting phenomenon of people cycling in and out of town. I was so sad to see places like AMP and the Albert Merola Gallery closing. But I’m so impressed with the number of artists who are still coming here—that’s encouraging. I like to find artists who are in galleries, who have websites, who are somehow against all odds making it work. Todd Perry over at the Hammock Gallery—he’s a builder by trade but is also making it work as an artist and a gallerist. People come here and they just make it work. That’s what’s so enduring about the Provincetown art colony.”
Which makes it, of course… art we love!