Artist Statement; Roots (ancestry) and Artist Biography

RolandSalazarARTIST STATEMENT

I resided in Mexico over three decades bridging the 20th and 21st centuries. I work in two distinct countries with different cultures. Most assuredly they differ in the art forms that have graced their histories as a nation. For Mexico and the USA, and more particularly Maine, create a distinct artistic challenge for me. In Maine, the visual emphasis is on the land and water, the blue and green. In Mexico colors are more intense. The sun in Mexico and the high altitude of many of its cities creates a brilliant atmospheric value that challenges all. In Maine, the sky is less brilliant, and the intensity is more muted. To live and work in these two places is a privilege and a challenge. It resulted in two diverse bodies of work: the Maine Years and the Mexico Years. While each tries to state how the atmosphere has come to be represented in my paintings and drawings they equally try to show what inner value both places mean to me.

ROOTS

 

LINKS: “Mother Night” for details on my Norwegian Mother, a Lutheran; SEE for the Irish heritage of Jeannie Cassidy, and her Presbyterian religion; and description for Solomon Rosenberg, Germany and his Jewish roots.

 

ROOTS” displays paintings that bring to light my ancestry. Each painting express a visual contemplation of my ‘roots.’ Many are enthralled with ancestry questions on their family. It’s much in vogue; witness the television series: “Finding Your Roots.” Millions have paid to have their DNA examined: to see where their ‘people’ came from. And, it’s virtually impossible to attend a cocktail gathering with friends, without someone mouthing how they just found out that their distant relative, named Harry-so-and-so was in fact a real Harry ‘so-and-so.’

As for me, my family tree has many loose branches, and I don’t see myself a duty bound ancestry-arborist. My family hid my Jewish heritage until I was about thirty. True, I never probed my parents as to our relatives. Asking family questions wasn’t the way you grew up in the Great Depression. Google was not available, and my interests lied elsewhere. There was school, friends and unfortunately at times family members, friends and myself made antisemitic commentaries. I often felt closer to my Jewish friends than my other friends; we held common values, especially art, literature, social purpose and politics. My youthful days in Queens, New York, morphed into additional military service (recalled to active duty) during the Korea War. I was sent to Europe, and after military discharge, I returned to graduate school at NYU. Work experience and life’s affairs set aside any thoughts on my heritage.

It wasn’t only my Jewish heritage that was untold; the same happened with respect to my Norwegian and Irish history. I uncovered only the bare outline of their history: Mother was born in Norway, Grandma in Ireland. The same lack of ancestry history happened with my grandfather, Alexander Frankland Rosenberg; he was born in the United States; his mother Lucy Frankland was born in the USA, too. Solomon Rosenberg, my great grandfather was born in Germany. Grandfather parents were Jewish. Grandfather married an Irish Presbyterian, who insisted that the children be brought up Christian; furthermore she insisted that he change his name to Rose, he never filed legal papers in New York.

Other than this mere outline of my ancestry, I know nothing  (See Links below for gallery rooms on this site or additional information on my heritage)

LINKS: “Mother Night” for details on my Norwegian Mother, a Lutheran; SEE for the Irish heritage of Jeannie Cassidy, and her Presbyterian religion; and “Festival of Light” description for Solomon Rosenberg, Germany and his Jewish roots.

EDITED BIO

Prologue

Roland Salazar Rose—Depression born (’27) and raised; veteran WWII, Korea; GI Bill liberal arts education (’47-52); enduring a middle class life style in NYC (’40s-’50s); tasting ‘halcyon days’ in France, Germany, Spain and elsewhere; in Maine during the dynamic ’60s, folk and blues at The Boar’s Head Coffee House; ‘change agent’ in D.C. in the “Great Society” and “Nixon” years; working for economic survival and family needs; then as founder (’87) of the non-profit Danforth Gallery, this self taught wannabe artist straddled Maine and Mexico (’89-’12), helping other talented individuals to have an art venue, while working at his artist passion for over thirty years (’87-’17).

Narrative

At the end of WWII, GI Bill in hand from my military service, I elected to have a liberal arts education instead of an arts education. I didn’t have a portfolio for an art school and I had grown up with the fears of the Depression era, hearing “get a job” from those around me. A liberal arts education would be more marketable.

In a U.S, Army reserve unit during the Korean War and attending graduate school at NYU I was recalled and sent to Europe. I dabbled in art in New York, Maine and Europe. I didn’t relate to the New York art scene of the ’50s-’60s and went to Paris to seek art training. Nothing came of that, so I moved to Spain where I painted. My work there was sold at auction because I could not afford to ship them back to the United States.

While painting in Spain I met my first wife on Ibiza. She became pregnant and with a family to support and no possible job prospects in Europe, we returned to New York where we lived with my parents at the family home in Queens. My father, often gambling at the NY race tracks, lost the house to debt in the early 1960’s, so my wife and I and our baby moved to Maine to live and work at a friend’s hotel in Kennebunkport. I painted some, when time permitted. These works were given to friends, or have been lost.

I held a series of non-art related jobs which, while allowing me to support my family, were not challenging or satisfying. I was bored, often drawing faces on styrofoam cups at management meetings to amuse myself.

My wife and I divorced in 1979. With this change, I felt free of many of the family constraints that I had with the upbringing of four children and was able to finally turn to my passion and work continuously on my art. I became the unpaid artistic director of an artists’ non-profit space in Portland, Maine and began creating art; I was assisted by my significant other; we were married in Mexico in 1995.

I created a number of large paintings in my loft-living studio, and a series of 1000 small works (4X6) on paper. I produced a CD, with monologue and dialogue. This project eventually grew to become The Four Seasons of the “Master Myth” (DVD) in 2013 which has aired three times on Maine Public Broadcasting.

After my mother died my father came to live in Maine with us. He needed long-term care which we found affordable in Mexico where he moved permanently until his death. We saw to his care there as “snow birds”: me painting in Mexico and us back to Maine in the summer to attend to the non-profit art needs, and to continue my Maine series of paintings.

Mexico proved to be a turning point for my artistic career. During my three decades in the country I created thousands of works, which I exhibited and are now stored in Mexico and America. Much of the work I created is also documented and distributed in nine e-books and also visible on my website.

Among the works from my Mexico years are Signature Year (2002) series: “Aztec Deities”; “Convergence”; “Mother Earth in Green and Brown”; and “Chapapote” are to be recognized for their innovative use of medium and contribution to contemporary Mexican art in a solo show in 2018 in Mexico, D.F.

Prior to this show, I had a number of one-person and group shows in Mexico and the USA including a 10-year retrospective “Dioses, Tierra y Pueblo de Mexico” at the Diego Rivera Museum: 100 paintings, which with my dialogue on the images was produced as a CD in English, Spanish and French– “Gods, Land & People of Mexico.”

Separated from my wife, and loss of studio, and stressed by the acrimonious divorce process, I did little art from 2008-2010, and no images are submitted. I decided to document my many works in series by writing, illustrating, and publishing nine (9) e-books. I packed my studio art, and braced myself. I was to permanently leave my studio/home in Mexico and return to Maine.

In 2011 our Sun was to give forth an impressive burst of magnetic energy and emit radiation across the entire electronic spectrum in form of a solar flare. To memorialize that event, I decided to paint 11 images, some 50 X 30 inches on Stonehenge paper. These images, titled “Solar Flares,” will be displayed in 2018-19 on the dome of the Maine Emera Planetarium in a joint project with Shawn Laatsh, president of the International Planetarium Society. The title of my show at the planetarium is “Solar Flares and Salazar—An Art. Science Collaboration.

I returned to Maine in 2012 along with the art that the court allowed me to keep; I rented a live-work space in Biddeford. My Mexico art was not very marketable in Maine so I established as a goal for my paintings in Maine to seek to express its true essence. I paint ‘Maine’ as unforgiving, the land, sea and sky as uncompromising, demanding your daily awareness, and testing your ability to live with nature as a constant in your life. Many of my Maine works have been recognized and several sold from the series “Sky, Land & Sea;” one work was selected, published by Down East Magazine. These paintings, are a strong body of work, yet not providing sufficient sales. The higher costs at the live-work space forced me to find HUD affordable housing at a mill complex in Biddeford. I gave up my studio of five years and moved; my work space is inadequate.

I exhibited in a group show “America Now” at the Holocaust & Human Rights Center, USM, Augusta; “ROMA: AD 476.” The 100 images were created in 2015 and when asked to show in 2017, I photographed the images, and printed them (48″ x 73″) on vinyl; it is a banner, with a QR to my website where I referenced Edward Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” to discuss “Is The US Subject to a ‘Fall’?” My hope, was to see that the American Dream was not dying, not dead, but was on the way to a better tomorrow. To do anything less is a tragedy, as possibly we are the last best hope for democracy, and for an Earth that is sustainable, and will benefit all life. The group show also was held at the Portland Library in 2018.

My painting series of 2016, “Complex Transition” is 100 abstract Mixed Media paintings, 6 x 8 in size on 8 x 10 Stonehenge paper. I created this series as I approached my nonagenarian birthday year. I was concerned and confused on the great divide in America – it was my view that many of these concerns we illustrate in art are immersed in a similar “complex transition” whereby ‘complex’ and in ‘transition’ at the same time; it requires that they can’t be resolved independently of each other, but need to be resolved ‘simultaneously.’

In 2017 I discussed with a curator my ‘series’ as a body of work. I asked her to curate from my Mexico and Maine work. My show is scheduled for May-July 2019 at the Maine Jewish Museum.

…A Note on My Series…My first ‘series’ was done in 1999. I set out for myself to do 1000 images, 4 x 6 on paper in one year; never to throw one out because it wasn’t satisfactory; to number these sequentially. I completed the series in Mexico in a year. In the Bibliotech I found a book by Dr. Feibleman on Aesthetics; in this an essay on the “Master Myth”; “success in spring, hubris in summer, nemesis in fall and death in winter.” I became enthralled with the idea that this could be a philosophical construct for my 1000 images. I worked this idea out in many ways from 1999, until I was able to finalize it in a DVD, that I wrote, and produced; it has aired on public broadcasting, and accompanies my memoir My Father’s Room.

I insist that many of my series can’t be sold individually. My inclination to produce “words and images” started in 1999. Many times only a series makes clear my intention and what I want revealed. Recently I did seven small works on paper and framed these, displaying them 1 to 7; I call this series “Seven: A Magical Number”; informing on my Website that ‘seven’ is indeed ‘magical’; why do we have only seven digits on our phones: see Miller’s law). Another example is the series I did when divorce occurred in Mexico. I painted 30 works on paper, called the series “If Only…”; and asked my poet friend to write quatrains for each painting, giving him the painting and a “tag line” If Only…you could see me! ‘Twenty’ is a magical number in indigenous Mexican life; in the Nahtaul language, ‘twenty’ refers to a whole person, ten fingers and ten toes, a way of counting. I have done several ‘twenty series.’

I continue to work and seek suitable venues to show and to seek partners for multi media events in 2019. My e-pub “Solar Flares and Salazar: An Art/Science Collaboration” with 11 images of my “Solar Flares” paintings, and NASA images of solar science information was completed in May 2019.

The e-pub is supported by a grant (2018-19) from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency, supported by the National Endowment of the Arts.