Weaving His Art on Golden Looms: Paintings and Drawings by Art Rosenbaum, a retrospective of one of Athens’ most colorful and talented artists, will be on display at the Georgia Museum of Art from Oct. 21 through Jan. 7.
Painter, muralist and draftsman, as well as a collector and performer of traditional American folk music, Rosenbaum is highly regarded throughout the Southeast for employing his narrative abilities in both art and music.
Weaving His Art on Golden Looms, Rosenbaum’s first major retrospective, features 51 paintings, including many large-scale, multi-paneled works, along with easel paintings and preparatory drawings that chart his evolution as an artist and musician.
“This retrospective examination of Rosenbaum’s paintings is an attempt to heighten awareness of an artist who eloquently celebrates a vibrant, creative world,” said Dennis Harper, curator of exhibitions at the Georgia Museum of Art.
Rosenbaum was born in Odgensburg, N.Y., and grew up in Indianapolis. His mother, Della, encouraged him to paint at an early age. Under her guidance, he completed his first oil painting at 9. He later enrolled in the Art Students League in New York, where he was the only teenager in the class and studied under artist Will Barnet. Rosenbaum earned degrees in art and art history from Columbia University and worked in Paris on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Rosenbaum’s other passion is music, a talent he honed during his time as a student at Columbia University. An accomplished folk and roots musician, his works often blur the lines between the worlds of music and visual art. In fact, he used his first prize money from a juried art show, $25 from the 1953 Indiana State Fair Art Show, to purchase his first banjo.
In New York, Rosenbaum interacted with numerous figures in the folk and traditional music scene, including Grove Robinson, a fellow banjo player from North Carolina. He also worked with John Cohen, a roots-music researcher who explored the relationship between the abstract art of the New York School and the music of the South. He also occasionally would interact with Bob Dylan, running into the famed folk and rock musician in different clubs in New York where the two would discuss their musical roots and influences.
Rosenbaum taught at the Craft Students’ League in New York and at the University of Iowa before coming to the University of Georgia in 1976. He was named the first Wheatley Professor in the Fine Arts at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in 2001.
His move to Athens in the late 1970s also signaled a change in his art as his new home began to influence his work heavily.