COOS BAY — It is a busy season at the Coos Art Museum. But, instead of hanging Christmas lights, they have been hanging new exhibits in advance of a big opening Friday night.
A total of six new shows will debut during a free public opening reception at the museum from 5-7 p.m. Friday, including a vibrant and colorful display of the oil paintings from Monte Rogers.
A popular South Coast artist, Rogers' exhibit educates as much as it entertains, with a chance to see the creative process that he has employed throughout his life.
While he has often exhibited locally, winning many awards and honors, this is his first solo show at the museum. It will showcase his western background, from his early life in Oregon to his later years in California, with subjects ranging from rodeos to amusement parks and beaches.
Although he didn't turn to oil painting until his commercial career ended, his creative process was shaped by his working years, between 1953 and 1983, where he made a living as an illustrator in southern California.
“Magazines, books, anything that needed artwork in Los Angeles during the period of time that I was doing commercial work. Anything,” Rogers said as he prepared for this week's opening.
Back then his preference was for illustrations of pen and ink. A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, it wasn't until he went back to school later in life that he became inspired by another commercial artist from California.
It is one reason why his colorful creations seem to jump out at visitors the minute they walk into the room.
“That's my favorite. I love colors,"he said. "One of the people who I took classes from when I went back to school was Neil Boyle, and his colors were so fabulous. I used to sit down and just watch his palette. His palette had cleaner colors on it than my paintings do. He was able to mix them that well.”
But, color is only part of the reason that Rogers' work stands out in a crowded field of exceptional local artists.
“Most of them are doing watercolors. I'm probably one of the few who do oil paintings of figures, because I don't do very good on landscapes," the octogenarian artist chuckled. "I get outside and I see all of the stuff and I can't pin it down to a composition.”
What he can pin down, he is able to do with a spectacular style that you can see for yourself in the Mabel Hansen Gallery on the museum's second floor, Friday through Feb. 28.
Along the way, be sure to check out the other exhibits, including the Kelle Herrick photo collage works under the title of Tomato, which features evocative two-dimensional photography, handmade books, paper puppets, shoji screens and flags.
Both artists will be on hand for the reception this week.
Other exhibits include works by photographers from the “Pacific Shores” states, along with a separate showing of the works of the jurors, and another show that offers the creations from local middle and high school students exploring creative photography through the Boys and Girls Club Digital Arts program.
Regular CAM hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1-4 p.m. Saturday.