Painter Herb Roe illustrates in his paintings the strength of a special community that has evolved from exile, assimilation, oppression and a renaissance three centuries in the making. His depictions of revelers following traditions of the courir through the countryside, musicians playing on front porches, festival dancers filling up park spaces — any space where music and dance and food can be enjoyed — are vivid in their color and dynamic in content.
“My newest work has been me playing with light, color, application of paint and design to evoke the emotions of our unique way of life we share in Acadiana. As a transplant I’m always mesmerized by the riots of color and activity that are so different from where I grew up,” Roe says of his exhibition currently up at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. “But the longer I am immersed in the cultural life of the area, the more I come to see these events as the ultimate expression of the Cajun joie de vivre that permeates the everyday: camaraderie, family, food, music, tradition.” A critical element among the Cajun community and Roe’s work is inclusivity: the current generation of Cajuns welcoming and including guests, who often become residents, from throughout the nation and many countries abroad; the young and the old, men and women steering new themes of the culture. There are many sources and approaches to cultural analysis, and there are many visual artists who work from a place of depth and genuine passion.
Roe’s oil paintings draw from an impetus to both analyze and create. The thing is, his paintings are true contemporary iconography at an extremely sophisticated level dealing with a subject matter of weighty significance. It’s nothing short of a beautiful synchronicity to have the artist and subject matched so well.
“They aren’t just things that happen once or twice a year,” Roe adds, “they set the pace for life in general and function as a metaphor for how the culture of Acadiana remains so strong.”
HERB ROE: ÇA C’EST BON
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