Behind the Scenes: Prichard Art Gallery Director Roger Rowley
By Lindsey Treffry, Daily News | text sent September, 2013
He’s got a bachelor’s degree from Colorado and a master’s from Visual Studies Workshop. While he’s the director of the University of Idaho’s Prichard Art Gallery, Roger Rowley has artistic skills, too. An artist and a photographer at heart, Rowley has overseen the Main Street gallery’s day-to-day tasks for eight years, to put art on the wall.
What does your job as director involve?
Email. Logistical arrangements — whether that’s conceptual things for exhibits that will happen in the future, or more immediate projects that are happening now. … Over the last couple weeks just making sure all the shipping arrangements and everything from getting the artwork here are all in place … Corresponding or talking with artists or galleries about future projects and getting commitments and people excited about doing stuff with us in the future. There’s a certain amount I have to do in relation to the University. It’s more institutional. … How we pay for things, insurance.
So, is there anything fun about being the Prichard director?
There are lots of interesting conversations. But, a lot of it is like what we’re doing right now — unwrapping the artwork. We’re getting to pull out, and see for the first time, things that we’ve only otherwise seen in pictures in email. That’s always a fun part of it.
Do your exhibits follow a theme?
They build on what we’ve done in the past, how they happen in sequence. So, if we’re doing this painting exhibit now, what do we want to follow that up with? … The next exhibit will be Native American artists working in the larger theme of comic art. So, sort of a pop-culture, low-culture, high-culture, cross-cultural kind of exhibit that’s going to be very different than this one. Thinking about those sorts of things, working with artists to produce, whether it’s just an exhibit or an exhibit with publication or whatever else.
Are you an artist yourself?
I don’t have much time to be an artist myself, but I am a photographer. A lot of gallery museum people these days, and maybe more so, are trained in art history or museum studies and not trained as artists. Fewer and fewer of the people that are doing exhibitions actually have a background as an artist.
What job do you do that people wouldn’t expect of an art gallery director?
In the winter, I shovel the walk. I aim for the best shoveled sidewalk on Main Street. That’s my goal.
Anything you’d like to add about your work behind-the-scenes?
The University does not own the building. We lease the building and so at various times, in relation to how we relate to downtown … the concerns about property taxes and whether they’re paid, as more and more schools and not-for-profits are in the community … That’s locally, politically an important point just in relation to how we, as a gallery, in essence, function as a hybrid between the University and almost like a private-public partnership with the building owners. … We try and be a good neighbor downtown — like shoveling the walk.
This article courtesy of the Moscow Pullman Daily News