The Sculpture of Roger Arvid Anderson

Roger Arvid Anderson: Masterworks in Bronze

New Concept Gallery
610 Canyon Road
Santa Fe: through Oct. 17, 2008


A review by Michael Abatemarco

Santa Fe New Mexican, Pasatiempo
September 26, 2008, page 29

Mythology, geography, and history combine in a tastefully presented show of Roger Arvid Anderson’s work at New Concept Gallery.

Standing like sentinels, the majority of Anderson’s sculptures presented in the show resemble cairns: piled stones that mark a route through the wilderness.

The Trail Marker series represents work the artist has been creating for the past five years. His use of place names like Obispo, Tucumcari, and Shasta as titles suggests that the marking of trails applies to the lifelong paths we forge as well as today’s hikes through the forest.

Other titles, culled from Greek mythology, take us out of the conventional associations trail markers have altogether and plant us firmly along a path that cuts through memory and time.

Gallery director Ann Hosfeld has given Anderson’s show a simple, rustic feel. Larger works, no more than about 3 feet high, rest on heavy-looking wood tables while smaller sculptures stand on pedestals.

A carefully selected group of paintings by other artists represented by New Concept, chosen for subdued color schemes that complement the patinas in Anderson’s bronzes, hang along the walls of the three rooms that contain the show.

Nothing Hosfeld has selected is heavy-handed or distracting, and there is a perfect balance between the art on the walls and the sculptures.

There are galleries along Canyon Road that, because of their small size, can feel cluttered. New Concept doesn’t feel that way. Notice how the sculptures off the main room, particularly those to the right as you enter the gallery, draw you in.

What captivates you when looking at Anderson’s work is how the sculptures convey a feeling of history and personality. Notice how the jutting slab of stone forming the upper part of a bronze titled Nike recalls the famous winged figure from Samothrace. It seems odd that Anderson chose to mimic rectangular slabs of rock that appear gathered from a quarry rather than the more rounded stones found in the wilderness.

But these could be the remnants of ancient temples, living on in new configurations.

A perfect rounded cylinder that tops a piece called Potomac suggests that it saw a previous life as a man-made object, a hand-me-down from another time and culture.

Samples from three earlier series Anderson created in the 1980s and 1990s – Flowers of the Moon, Horses and Wildlife, and Metaphysical Landscapes – are also included, but Hosfeld wisely lets the new work take center stage.

Including the earlier sculptures establishes an intriguing contrast, however: they appear to be by a different artist, but that is a testament to Anderson’s versatility as a sculptor.

A closer look reveals that certain themes such as a love of myth and history unite the old and the new.

A horse’s head called Bucephalus, for example, is a specific reference to a historical beast – the horse of Alexander the Great – but is stylistically archaic.

As demonstrated by Nike, Anderson has continued exploring cultural history through simple but recognizable configurations.

He is a master sculptor indeed.


Pasatiempo Review

Pasatiempo Review

Pasatiempo Review