The Gmeiner Art & Cultural Center will host a presentation by George Mechling, collector, on the artist John Rogers on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Main Gallery. In case of inclement weather, the presentation will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24.
John Rogers was a popular American sculptor who was active between 1859–1892. He created groups of statuary on the subjects of everyday life, the theater, Shakespeare, the Civil War and horses. Mechling will have examples of Rogers’ work on display while he gives his talk.
Rogers statuary is often referred to as “groups” because the pieces usually consist of two or more figures in the piece. At a time when it was in vogue to have parlor statuary in one’s Victorian home, Rogers provided appealing high-quality durable plaster statuary which was well within the financial reach of many for whom marble or bronze statuary was not.
Rogers was born and raised in the Boston, Mass. area. Although he was trained as a master mechanic, Rogers always had exhibited a love for drawing, modeling and painting. He eventually parlayed this proclivity and hobby into a full-time artistic career that he launched after a year of study abroad in Italy and France.
His style is best characterized as “realism.” It would not be a stretch at all to think of Norman Rockwell as the mid-20th century’s John Rogers. What Rockwell did on canvas, John Rogers did in plaster. Both Rogers and Rockwell used their art forms to tell American stories.
Rogers proved to be quite successful both as an artist and as a businessman promoting his work. Once up and running his studios in New York City and Connecticut, he managed, on average, to introduce two new groups a year with a work force of as up to 10 employees. He may have produced as many as 100,000 examples of his groups during his studio’s operation. Rogers was recognized as the preeminent popular artist of his time.