MOCRA exhibitions: The Artist and the Capable Observer

A survey of paintings, watercolors, and drawings from artist James Rosen's six-decade career gently invites the "capable observer" to stay a while with poetic images that are conducive to quiet contemplation.

James Rosen exhibition logo

    September 26 - December 12, 2010

    exhibition extended January 11 - February 13, 2011

         free public opening reception 

         Sunday, September 26     1:30 - 3:30 p.m.
         click here for a PDF with special parking information for the opening reception

         Sneak preview as part of Grand Center's Dancing in the Street festival
                   and Saint Louis University's Homecoming Weekend
         Saturday, September 25     11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

         click here for more information about Dancing in the Street 2010
         click here for more information about Homecoming 2010

         The Artist and the Capable Observer is part of the American Arts Experience - St. Louis,
a celebration from October 1 - 17, 2010, of American artists in all disciplines that will fill the
         concert halls, museums, theaters, universities and outdoor spaces of the St. Louis area with
         dozens of performances and shows.

         Click here for more information on the myriad offerings in this inaugural year!

Capable Observer info sheet thumbnail

Download an informational brochure with sample images:
low resolution (440kb - faster download) or high resolution (3.9MB - better for printing)

General Exhibition Information
Hours: Tues - Sun, 11 am - 4 pm
Admission: free, with suggested donation of $5/adults, $1/students and children

Directions and Parking information
Group visit information

James Rosen - S. Agata, 1986

James Rosen, S. Agata, 1986.
Oil and wax/oil emulsion on canvas.
Collection of MOCRA.

Jim Rosen understands that when we open our eyes on the visible world . . . what we see is light. And this is what he paints.

- Madlyn Millner Kahr, art historian

Over his six-decade career, James Rosen has produced a body of visually arresting paintings, watercolors, and drawings, that gently invite viewers to stay a while. Rosen seeks "capable observers" who bring to bear their own intellect and imagination in order to observe poetic images that are conducive to quiet contemplation.

The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) is fortunate to have over 100 Rosen works either in its collection or on long-term loan. His work has been included in many of MOCRA's group exhibitions over the years and never fails to draw appreciative comments from visitors. Drawing primarily on these works, The Artist and the Capable Observer presents work from the 1950s to the present, offering viewers the opportunity to observe Rosen’s visual journey through paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints. The exhibition culminates with a series of oil and wax/oil emulsion paintings that are homages to the religious art of the European past. Rosen is especially drawn to some of the great European religious masterworks by artists such as Duccio and Grünewald. Painted with up to 60 thin layers--"veils"--of oil paint and wax, these works possess a sense of mystery as they slowly disclose themselves to the patient and attentive observer.

While others tangle themselves in excess, Rosen starts with the question: What is truly essential here? He demonstrates that the function of art is to coordinate the visual imagination, the sensitive eye, the intellect, and the network of subliminal associations that not the painter alone, but the observer as well, brings to the work.

- M. M. Kahr

Rosen has had a distinguished career as an artist and lecturer. Educated at Cooper Union, Wayne State University, and Cranbrook Academy of Art, he has taught at the University of Hawaii, the University of California - Berkeley, Augusta College, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He has exhibited widely and his works are in collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Whitney Museum, and the Ashmolean Museum. Influenced by artist Mark Rothko and art historian Meyer Schapiro, Rosen's work demonstrates his keen understanding of art history, mastery of form, and ability to imbue canvases with mystery. He is represented by Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, and the Leyton Gallery, St. John's, Newfoundland.

James Rosen - Trepassy

James Rosen, Trepassey: Triangles &
, 2000. Watercolor and
gouache on cardboard. Collection of MOCRA.

This exhibition is made possible through the financial support of the Regional Arts Commission.  Regional Arts Commission logo

Additional links

More about James Rosen

Listen to an interview with artist James Rosen, part of the MOCRA Voices podcast series  MOCRA Voices logo

MOCRA blog posts about The Artist and the Capable Observer

The Artist and the Capable Observer in the media

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