Student Union Building
PO Box 444264
Moscow, ID 83844-4264
1031 N. Academic Way,
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
Roger Rowley Director Art Gallery
Prichard Art Gallery Director's Passion for the Creative
Written by Dana Morris
Roger Rowley's leadership at the University of Idaho's Prichard Art Gallery entails so much more than long-range event planning.
An accomplished artist, he enjoys creating works that give people pause. And he takes pleasure in providing avenues for the community to gain exposure to creative works from around the world.
In 2004, Rowley was appointed director of the Prichard Art Gallery, outreach facility of the University of Idaho College of Art and Architecture, and since has shared a range of diverse artists with the communities around the Palouse and the region.
Born in Chicago, Ill., Rowley’s childhood didn’t display signs of a boy who would grow up to not only be an artist, but run an entire art gallery.
“I would not have been considered an artistic child," said Rowley. "My parents are both doctors. They traveled extensively, including a yearlong sabbatical in Oxford, England, when I was seven. I would get dragged around to museums and places, so like it or not, I was exposed to a lot of 'culture.' I found some things very interesting.”
He became interested in photography in high school, but it didn’t become more than just a hobby until he started college at the University of Colorado, where he earned his bachelor's degree.
“My passion for photography comes from how common place it is on one hand, and then how unique and truly individual it can be,” he said.
He moved to Rochester, N.Y., for graduate school at Visual Studies Workshop and eventually began working as the school’s exhibitions program coordinator.
“VSW is kind of a unique place. It’s a not-for-profit that has a lot of different projects and a history of showing some of the most interesting photography being done,” said Rowley. While serving as coordinator, he also taught in a graduate program.
In 2001, he moved to Moscow and became curator of exhibitions/collections manager for the Museum of Art at Washington State University. When that ended, he sought out his current position as director of the Prichard Gallery.
“I pursued the job here knowing they were in search of a director,” he said.
Rowley’s presence has impacted the gallery in many positive ways. Attendance and members have increased since his arrival. He's worked to build visibility and goodwill in the community through programs like the art auction, educational opportunities for local schools, and providing art classes to the community.
“It has from its very inception had an impact on goodwill in the community," said Rowley. "The Prichard has been a place that relies on community involvement. I still have people in the community approach me and say that they helped paint the walls or nail down the floors."
Rowley’s multifaceted position has him trying to achieve balance between administration responsibilities, teaching and exhibition development. This leaves little room for concentration on personal work, but he has managed to squeeze in one side project.
“Fruit Plate” is a 10 ft. high by 20 ft. long mural consisting of 200 photographs, each printed 12 inches square. It features fruit cut up and arranged in a variety of patterns on a blue rimmed plate; it recently was installed at Washington State University’s Gallery 2. A selection will be on view at Cowgirl Chocolates for Moscow Artwalk.
“At the moment, I think I’ve completed it, but I might change my mind,” he said.
And while he earns a pay check, Rowley's work is his passion for the sense of community and culture that is instilled in the Prichard.
"My hope is to create situations where someone comes into the gallery and has an experience looking at art that cannot be quantified or described with words," he said.
Director, Prichard Art Gallery