At 85, Gerda Roze, from Mount Vernon, sent out persuasive press releases she wrote for her upcoming show at Mamaroneck Artists Guild. She just got a new computer and has her own web site. This is her sixteenth solo show.
“I am a painter,” she writes, with swift and clear conviction.
Opening April 13th, the show exhibits 25 to 30 of Ms. Roze’s paintings and monotype prints. The theme is Homage to the Circle, because, “It’s infinite. No beginning and no end.” She’s been a MAG member for thirty years.
Ms. Roze’s career as an abstract artist includes a recent show at Chelsea’s Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, a retrospective at Iona College, and numerous Broome Street Gallery showings in NYC. She’s been praised by The New York Times, and her awards fill a page. She was in 18 group shows last year.
The circle is also a symbol for eternal faith, which is fitting for a life defying seeming insurmountable occurrences.
|Homage to the Circle, Paintings and Prints by Gerda Roze
April 13th through May 1st
Closing Event and Walk & Talk
Mamaroneck Artists Guild
Ms. Roze was born in Riga, Latvia. In 1944, at 18, she and her mother fled communist Soviet Union rule. For six years they lived in a German refugee camp, separated from her father. “In 1992, I found out he had been sent to Siberia for ten years. When he returned, we were gone.”
She attended medical school in Munich for two years and married a fellow refugee, a Polish army soldier.
The three were granted entry to the U.S. in 1950. Soon after, she left her husband, not knowing she was pregnant. She and her mother moved to Manhattan. Her mother took care of her son while Ms. Roze worked sewing dresses.
She moved her family to Mount Vernon. At night she attended Columbia University, earning a sociology degree in 1960. She became a successful consultant, climbing the ladder at an actuary firm.
Monday nights, Ms. Roze took art classes, and found her voice. The depth and movement of her canvases (acrylic with mixed media) seem as much an exploration of the universe as they do a poetic life she’d kept under wraps. “I woke up one morning and said, all these lost years. I’d accomplished a lot, but never anything personal having to do with emotions.”
In 1978, at 53, she retired and become a professional artist.
Formal training began with John Sedgwick at Columbia, and Sid Dickinson at The Art Students League, in a realist style. She then studied cubism, leading to abstraction, and studied in England and Venice. Her work is influenced by Cézanne and Kandinsky.
“I always use circles in my work, and start with color and shape,” she says. Many of the painting she’ll be showing grew out of “orbit paintings, with the moon and the sun. I wanted to merge geometric lines with organic shapes.” She sometimes uses circular canvases, or builds her own multi-shape canvases.
Fifteen years ago she began monotype printing, producing one-of-a-kind oil-base prints.
“Art gives meaning to my life. It has replaced everything I’ve lost. When I lost my son, that was the biggest loss.” Ms. Roze’s son died in 1991 at the age of 40. Her grandson, 31, is in the Army, currently in Afghanistan after three Iraq tours.
“In my studio, I’m involved with my art, not thinking about anything else. I have a need to create.”
Ms. Roze is on the MAG board. She belongs to Center For Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT.
Regarding her next show, Ms. Roze says, “Let’s be realistic. I’m 85.” Then she adds, “I always say it will be my last show, then I come up with another one.
“I have lists of all the things to be done.”
Katherine Ann Samon is Business Editor for Larchmont Gazette and author of four books. www.katherineannsamon.com