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Tropical Storm Ellsworth Kelly

Tropical Storm Ellsworth Kelly

Acrylic, 48 by 48 inches, 2013

Sound of Many Waters

Sound of Many Waters

In the book of Revelation, John the Apostle describes the voice of God as something like a raging storm. God’s voice is likened to overawing weather in other passages, too. Sometimes it is a blinding light or an earthquake, sometimes thunder like a trumpet blast.

Brooke Rogers grew up the son of a preacher in Ocean City, a barrier island off the coast of Maryland. They lived and worshipped in the middle of an often raucous resort town. The contrast was formative. The hurricane struck home with Brooke because of both its religious symbolism and its regional associations. In this part of the world, storm season is a fact of life.

Hurricane imagery first appeared in Brooke’s work as early as 2008, in a series of scratch board drawings. The hurricane has been at the heart of his work ever since, in one form or another. In his latest paintings, the spinning storm has been simplified into geometric patterns, largely derived from Amish quilts. But they also suggest other traditions, including Renaissance marquetry, Cosmati tile work, and Islamic patterns.

Pinwheels set the Modernist grid in motion. Brooke’s patterned paintings and drawings relate to the fashion and home décor of the 70’s and 80’s that trickled down from Minimalism and Op Art. The most immediate point of departure for Brooke’s new work was the distillation of late Modernism in the popular design of his childhood.

Fairy Whip

Fairy Whip

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Group Portrait of God

Group Portrait of God

 God spoke to Job “out of the whirlwind”. Elsewhere, He speaks with “the voice of many waters”.  We tend to personify storms. They are named. They have ‘eyes’ and ‘arms’. Still, while we lend them personal attributes, they are terrible in their scope and power. Like God–like all nature–hurricanes are beyond our power to control.

Hurricanes are thought of as destructive, arbitrary, but satellite images show the structural similarities from one to the next. Rather than chaotic, meteorologists describe hurricanes as more or less ‘organized’. A developing storm is often described as increasingly ‘defined’. Brooke began noticing the many structures present in storm after storm as he painted them. What started as a serial meditation on sound and fury, emerged as a group portrait of God.

Growing up in the Mid-Atlantic, hurricanes were a part of seasonal life for Brooke. As a young surfer in Ocean City, MD, he watched approaching storms with a sense of eagerness. But the days before a hurricane rolled in were full of awe, too, pregnant with a spooky sense of anticipation. A fearful respect–excitement mixed with apprehension–is a good characterization of the human perspective on God.

Fairy Whip and Rock & Roll Matterhorn

Fairy Whip and Rock & Roll Matterhorn

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches each, 2014
 

Rock & Roll Matterhorn

Rock & Roll Matterhorn

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014
 

Wipeout

Wipeout

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Surf Shop Pop

Surf Shop Pop

Acrylic, 12 by 12 inches each, 2013-14

Born in the 60’s, Brooke traces his painting roots to two important strains at the tail end of late Modernism: Pop Art and Minimalism.

The open expanses of the Delmarva landscape helped form Brooke’s bent for bold simple shapes. At the beach he saw three broad stripes–sand, sea, and sky–stacked on top of one another like bricks. The level ocean plane stretched out to the vast cycloramic sky creating such a sense of scale that all detail shrank to nothing.

Minimalism is the flat Atlantic horizon.

Pop Art, on the other hand, has meant two things in Brooke’s memory: the characteristic look of the surfing industry in the 1980’s, and the sparkling imagery of the boardwalk amusements in the beach town where he grew up.

Neon wetsuits, DayGlo surfboards, and checkerboard Vans. Brand name products from the world of surf fashions were at the cutting edge of the suntanned, airbrushed, New Wave 80’s. Brooke virtually grew up in a surf shop. Some of his earliest artwork mimicked the logos of surf apparel brands like Quicksilver and Lightning Bolt. The pastel colors and bold patterns of his heyday have reappeared in Brooke’s latest paintings, but with rich surfaces that show the accretion of time and memory.

Trimper’s Rides and Amusements has been on the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD since long before Brooke’s time. The moving lights and friendly colors of the many rides and painted signs left their mark on Brooke early. Like his hurricanes, many of the rides at Trimper’s have a spinning action. The names for some of the paintings on view here are borrowed from the spinning rides on the boardwalk.

Toboggan

Toboggan

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Merry Mixer

Merry Mixer

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Girlfriends

Girlfriends

Scratchboard, 12 by 12 inches each, 2008

In a  series of small scratch boards, images based on satellite photos of hurricanes were each named after one of Brooke’s old girlfriends and dated with the year they split up. In this light, the otherwise distant and objective images, associated more with the science of meteorology than the drama of romantic entanglement, adopted an air of intimacy. In his more recent paintings the hurricane has been simplified, abstracted into geometric patterns, such as the pinwheel. The spinning hurricane remains the underlying form in much of Brooke’s work.

Sound of Many Waters

Sound of Many Waters

Rehoboth Art League

Sound of Many Waters

Sound of Many Waters

Rehoboth Art League

Storm Systems

Storm Systems

Acrylic, various sizes, 2010

The first pieces in this group were the large paintings of Hurricanes. Brooke was initially attracted to the idea of a dry, detailed rendering of such a sprawling image.  “Hurricanes were loud, fast and destructive,” he said, while his painting process was “slow and meditative”. He found himself painting the same forms over and over–the same radiating bands, the same braided clouds, the same rippling fields of woolly white. These were not only harbingers of chaos, but pictures of faithfulness. He saw a dependability in nature reflecting the character of nature’s God and creator.

The male and female figures were based on drawings from life, drawings of Brooke and his wife, Dawn. Although the resulting silhouettes were distorted and stylized, the contours had a specificity based in reality.

The patterns came from traditional Amish quilts, often given as wedding gifts, and they stirred up Brooke’s love of geometric abstraction. Many of the early abstract painters were spiritual searchers, reaching for a universal language that transcended traditional narrative painting. But they were mostly groping in the proverbial darkness. God was dead and the museum had replaced the cathedral. Amish patterning, on the other hand, emerged from a community of true believers, and came about before the first abstract paintings in early 20th century Europe.

The maze-like panels sometimes included what look like dialog boxes, suggesting a kind of conversation between above and below, the two way street of prayer and revelation. Subsequent works in powdered graphite on paper showed patterns that could be some form of code or language. But the patterns were revealed only in part, as if the language or the message were pictured in a state of becoming, an order emerging from nothing

Sound of Many Waters

Sound of Many Waters

Rehoboth Art League

Tropical Storm Ellsworth Kelly

Acrylic, 48 by 48 inches, 2013

Sound of Many Waters

In the book of Revelation, John the Apostle describes the voice of God as something like a raging storm. God’s voice is likened to overawing weather in other passages, too. Sometimes it is a blinding light or an earthquake, sometimes thunder like a trumpet blast.

Brooke Rogers grew up the son of a preacher in Ocean City, a barrier island off the coast of Maryland. They lived and worshipped in the middle of an often raucous resort town. The contrast was formative. The hurricane struck home with Brooke because of both its religious symbolism and its regional associations. In this part of the world, storm season is a fact of life.

Hurricane imagery first appeared in Brooke’s work as early as 2008, in a series of scratch board drawings. The hurricane has been at the heart of his work ever since, in one form or another. In his latest paintings, the spinning storm has been simplified into geometric patterns, largely derived from Amish quilts. But they also suggest other traditions, including Renaissance marquetry, Cosmati tile work, and Islamic patterns.

Pinwheels set the Modernist grid in motion. Brooke’s patterned paintings and drawings relate to the fashion and home décor of the 70’s and 80’s that trickled down from Minimalism and Op Art. The most immediate point of departure for Brooke’s new work was the distillation of late Modernism in the popular design of his childhood.

Fairy Whip

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Group Portrait of God

 God spoke to Job “out of the whirlwind”. Elsewhere, He speaks with “the voice of many waters”.  We tend to personify storms. They are named. They have ‘eyes’ and ‘arms’. Still, while we lend them personal attributes, they are terrible in their scope and power. Like God–like all nature–hurricanes are beyond our power to control.

Hurricanes are thought of as destructive, arbitrary, but satellite images show the structural similarities from one to the next. Rather than chaotic, meteorologists describe hurricanes as more or less ‘organized’. A developing storm is often described as increasingly ‘defined’. Brooke began noticing the many structures present in storm after storm as he painted them. What started as a serial meditation on sound and fury, emerged as a group portrait of God.

Growing up in the Mid-Atlantic, hurricanes were a part of seasonal life for Brooke. As a young surfer in Ocean City, MD, he watched approaching storms with a sense of eagerness. But the days before a hurricane rolled in were full of awe, too, pregnant with a spooky sense of anticipation. A fearful respect–excitement mixed with apprehension–is a good characterization of the human perspective on God.

Fairy Whip and Rock & Roll Matterhorn

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches each, 2014
 

Rock & Roll Matterhorn

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014
 

Wipeout

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Surf Shop Pop

Acrylic, 12 by 12 inches each, 2013-14

Born in the 60’s, Brooke traces his painting roots to two important strains at the tail end of late Modernism: Pop Art and Minimalism.

The open expanses of the Delmarva landscape helped form Brooke’s bent for bold simple shapes. At the beach he saw three broad stripes–sand, sea, and sky–stacked on top of one another like bricks. The level ocean plane stretched out to the vast cycloramic sky creating such a sense of scale that all detail shrank to nothing.

Minimalism is the flat Atlantic horizon.

Pop Art, on the other hand, has meant two things in Brooke’s memory: the characteristic look of the surfing industry in the 1980’s, and the sparkling imagery of the boardwalk amusements in the beach town where he grew up.

Neon wetsuits, DayGlo surfboards, and checkerboard Vans. Brand name products from the world of surf fashions were at the cutting edge of the suntanned, airbrushed, New Wave 80’s. Brooke virtually grew up in a surf shop. Some of his earliest artwork mimicked the logos of surf apparel brands like Quicksilver and Lightning Bolt. The pastel colors and bold patterns of his heyday have reappeared in Brooke’s latest paintings, but with rich surfaces that show the accretion of time and memory.

Trimper’s Rides and Amusements has been on the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD since long before Brooke’s time. The moving lights and friendly colors of the many rides and painted signs left their mark on Brooke early. Like his hurricanes, many of the rides at Trimper’s have a spinning action. The names for some of the paintings on view here are borrowed from the spinning rides on the boardwalk.

Toboggan

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Merry Mixer

Acrylic, 36 by 36 inches, 2014

Girlfriends

Scratchboard, 12 by 12 inches each, 2008

In a  series of small scratch boards, images based on satellite photos of hurricanes were each named after one of Brooke’s old girlfriends and dated with the year they split up. In this light, the otherwise distant and objective images, associated more with the science of meteorology than the drama of romantic entanglement, adopted an air of intimacy. In his more recent paintings the hurricane has been simplified, abstracted into geometric patterns, such as the pinwheel. The spinning hurricane remains the underlying form in much of Brooke’s work.

Sound of Many Waters

Rehoboth Art League

Sound of Many Waters

Rehoboth Art League

Storm Systems

Acrylic, various sizes, 2010

The first pieces in this group were the large paintings of Hurricanes. Brooke was initially attracted to the idea of a dry, detailed rendering of such a sprawling image.  “Hurricanes were loud, fast and destructive,” he said, while his painting process was “slow and meditative”. He found himself painting the same forms over and over–the same radiating bands, the same braided clouds, the same rippling fields of woolly white. These were not only harbingers of chaos, but pictures of faithfulness. He saw a dependability in nature reflecting the character of nature’s God and creator.

The male and female figures were based on drawings from life, drawings of Brooke and his wife, Dawn. Although the resulting silhouettes were distorted and stylized, the contours had a specificity based in reality.

The patterns came from traditional Amish quilts, often given as wedding gifts, and they stirred up Brooke’s love of geometric abstraction. Many of the early abstract painters were spiritual searchers, reaching for a universal language that transcended traditional narrative painting. But they were mostly groping in the proverbial darkness. God was dead and the museum had replaced the cathedral. Amish patterning, on the other hand, emerged from a community of true believers, and came about before the first abstract paintings in early 20th century Europe.

The maze-like panels sometimes included what look like dialog boxes, suggesting a kind of conversation between above and below, the two way street of prayer and revelation. Subsequent works in powdered graphite on paper showed patterns that could be some form of code or language. But the patterns were revealed only in part, as if the language or the message were pictured in a state of becoming, an order emerging from nothing

Sound of Many Waters

Rehoboth Art League

Tropical Storm Ellsworth Kelly
Sound of Many Waters
Fairy Whip
Group Portrait of God
Fairy Whip and Rock & Roll Matterhorn
Rock & Roll Matterhorn
Wipeout
Surf Shop Pop
Toboggan
Merry Mixer
Girlfriends
Sound of Many Waters
Sound of Many Waters
Storm Systems
Sound of Many Waters