By Curt Peterson
WINDSOR—Seventy-four-year-old Roger Book was very busy on Saturday, schmoozing among a sizeable crowd at the Windsor Welcome Center, all of whom had come to see his abstract art exhibit, “Crazy Heart.”
A dozen of Book’s recent paintings were displayed inside the center. They are large pieces, about 4 or 5 feet square and range from strikingly colorful to commanding black slashes on grey and white. “Little Girl in Woods With Snowmen” was an example of the latter, and had a price tag of $1,000. Others were tagged up to $2,500.
“My work is a journey into the unknown world of the subconscious, which can only be explored by the willingness to take risks,” Book’s artist’s statement said.
Book’s story is as interesting as his paintings. At age 43 he abandoned a corporate job in Davenport, Iowa, and went back to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in art at Green Mountain College and his masters in painting at Rochester Institute of Technology. He also studied at the International School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture Italy, where, said one critic, he “blossomed.”
He’s lived in the Rutland area for more than two decades and considers himself a Vermonter. And he spells his name either “Roger” or “Rodger,” apparently at his own whim.
Besides “country” exhibits such as “Crazy Heart,” Book has done major shows. One was an exhibit in New York with the five top artists from Russia.
“It had been a long time since we had done anything with Russians,” Book told the Mountain Times. “We didn’t sell anything, but it was a good thing to do.”
Now he’d like to go back to New York again for an event.
“I want to go to New York, but not on the establishment’s terms. I want to do my own thing this time,” he said, adding he “doesn’t want just to fit in.”
Main Street Gallery owner Cassie George hosted the event, which encompassed the Center building and the large patio outside. In her usual fashion, she provided interesting finger food and a variety of beverages.
When the event opened at two, Windsor guitarist Cliff Pollard was setting an art appreciation mood with relaxing instrumentals.
Guests wore Covid-mandated face masks and seating was more than adequately distanced. Blue-eyed and smiling, wavy-haired Book wore a colorful “Grateful Dead” tee shirt and was easy to find in the crowd.
Blessed with perfect early fall weather, an event highlight was music by popular Carlos Ocasio, co-owner of Skunk Hollow Tavern, wearing a “da skunk” face mask and accompanied by a second guitarist and a fiddler.
George opened her gallery next door to her other business, Bob’s Barber Shop, in September 2019. Gallery hours are: 7- 3 Tuesday and Thursday, 10-6 Wednesday, 7-5 Friday, and 7-Noon on Saturday.
Her father and biggest supporter is her father, Jack Nyberg, Windsor wood sculptor and painter. Art lovers can track Main Street Gallery events on its active Facebook page.