Past and present came together in stately harmony on Tuesday, March 24th at Roosters Men’s Grooming Center in Boston. On that night, several collage and assemblage pieces by Boston visual artist Rob Rovenolt inaugurated the Boston Center for the Arts’ ArtBridge program. The occasion was marked with an intimate, but spirited reception.

Roosters describes itself as “The classic American Barbershop for the 21st Century Man.” Tyson White, the owner of the Boston location at 518 Tremont Street, was on hand for the reception. Together with his wife Alex and infant son Hudson, White took care of guests, showed around friends, and happily expounded on the design and business philosophy of the barbershop. The business was built within a brand new building – in effect a blank canvas – and opened on April 9th, 2014. White said that the design mission was to conjure a “masculine feel, with modern touches.” To accomplish this goal, the men’s grooming center features rich, polished woods, dark upholstery and drop ceiling tiles cleverly crafted to mimic an intricate decorative ceiling.

 

 

 

 

And now, the barbershop also features the artwork of Rob Rovenolt. Firstly, credit must be given to exhibit curator and BCA Visual Arts Manager Zelana Davis. Culling the proper selections from Rovenolt’s extensive and varied catalogue was surely no easy task. In addition, the art needed to coexist with perhaps the most striking feature of the Roosters interior – walls painted in what Tyson White described as “English Racing Car Green,” a very distinct hue existing somewhere between pastel and lime green.

 

Davis did have some currents to guide her. Most of Rovenolt’s work involves the rediscovery of old objects. The objects can find ways to reassert their cultural and temporal associations, despite being removed from their original contexts. Because of this, several of the chosen pieces chosen reflected a certain understated nostalgia. Mustang (2011) features the iconic sports car hood ornament in full gallop, laboring beneath the manifest arc of a swinging mallet, and a heavenly body that could be sun or moon. Ship’s Grave (2011) features a procession of wheels – one large and entwined in leather cord, plus three small – under an old monochrome photograph of sailors scrambling about the rigging of an unknown ship.

 

Also on display were more abstract collections of color and form like Stiff Breeze (2011) and Reoccuring Dream (2011), as well as Mute (2011), which features a somehow very person-like wood figure in what could be an attempt at communication. Veering closer to traditional collage were Mount Fuji II (2011) and 1946 (2014). Companion pieces on the wall, and seemingly in spirit, both square canvases feature what could be the desktop representations of unknown lives, tied inextricably through their assembled images to time and place. Fuji is austere and elegant in its largely black, white and grey arrangement. 1946 shares the same propensity for horizontal and vertical order, but the images suggest wanderlust, urgency, the passage of time, and perhaps even some personal crisis of identity.

 

Rovenolt was animated at the reception, happy to speak about his work to anyone asking. However, much of the time was spent meeting, greeting and generally catching up. When asked about his impressions of the event, Rovenolt was almost giddy. “I didn’t expect half this many people,” he said, going on to express that the turnout was “very gratifying.”

 

 

 

In summing up the evening, Rovenolt conveyed that though his chosen art form results in fixed and solid pieces, the act of creating the art, as well as the moments in which others experience it, are both transient and ephemeral. He said that “Making art is akin to a spiritual experience when all is in synch,” and expressed his gratitude, for both the private connection he enjoys with his materials in the studio, and the family, friends, colleagues and other guests who came out to celebrate his gifts to the world of visual art.

The inaugural ArtBridge Exhibition, featuring the work of Rob Rovenolt, will remain on display at Roosters Men’s Grooming Center through August 24th, 2015.     -Written By: David Sano 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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