AU’s Jule Collins Smith Museum launches exhibition honoring Alabama native

Roger Brown in front of his Chicago apartment
Roger Brown in front of his Chicago apartment

AUBURN – “Roger Brown: Southern Exposure,” a touring exhibition organized by Auburn University’s Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art to honor Alabama native Roger Brown and his long artistic career, opens at the museum Oct. 6 and continues through Jan. 5.

The show is the first to focus on the Southern sensibility of Brown, an artist born in Alabama in 1941, who achieved fame in the 1970s and 1980s as a key figure of the Imagist movement in Chicago where he studied, settled and made his career.

Tracking Brown’s life from his childhood in Alabama, through his working years and to his death in the South in 1997, the exhibition presents nearly 40 examples of the boldly patterned landscapes, figure-filled skyscrapers, news-driven narratives and biting commentaries for which he became famous.

“‘Roger Brown: Southern Exposure’ was planned as part of the museum’s ongoing activities celebrating 2007 as the Year of Alabama Arts,” said Marilyn Laufer, Director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum. “What better way to end the year of such a celebration than to recognize Roger Brown, one of the state’s own native sons.”

“Sidney Lawrence, who knew the artist and curated his first retrospective exhibition at Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum, agreed to be guest curator for the show. In discussions with Mr. Lawrence, we determined this exhibition would differ from others of Brown’s work by focusing on the importance of the artist’s Southern heritage, an aspect of his aesthetic and sensibility not previously given full consideration.”

The selection of paintings, three-dimensional pieces, prints and drawings is supplemented by personal and family memorabilia, works by artist-friends from his student years and examples of self-taught and vernacular art collected by Brown.

“By combining this breadth of materials, the show intends to reveal the origins and persistence of such recurring themes as folk craft, fire-and-brimstone religion, city awe, the great American landscape and a no-nonsense attitude about art, life and politics,” said Lawrence. “The artist, who returned to Alabama at least once a year and kept in close touch with his family, proudly identified himself as a Southerner. This show will open the door to that sensibility.”

From the Jule Collins Smith Museum, the exhibit will travel to the American University Art Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, D.C. and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at the University of New Orleans.

For more information, call (334) 844-1484 or go to http://jcsm.auburn.edu/ .

Contact: Marilyn Laufer, (334) 844-1484 (laufema@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)