Frank Flanagan is a freelance writer fresh from Rhode Island. This is part of a series of posts by Flanagan where he explores Orlando from a newcomer’s perspective.
By Frank Flanagan
Glenn Rogers starts every day with a swim, but not before thumbing through the Orlando Sentinel and the New York Times. Rogers has trouble getting out of the pool some mornings. With the water at a crisp 88-degrees, who wouldn’t? When he finally finishes drying off he heads to the Boom Art Gallery (Facebook) on Orange Avenue in Ivanhoe Village [Gmap], where it has been for twenty years.
Rogers has been making a living off making art his whole life. He spent years touring the country with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey. He wrote for SNL in the late ‘70s, he helped to design the notorious “yellow brick road” in The Wiz and has even done quite a bit of acting himself, between feature films like Ernest Saves Christmas, Quick Change, and various commercial appearances.
Everyone has to get his or her start in commercial art somewhere, and for Rogers, it began at around thirteen years old. Adolescent Glenn took on creative odd jobs around New Jersey, where he grew up. Some jobs involved painting murals in public spaces, some involved Glenn accepting responsibility before he fully knew what it entailed. Finger painting since he was in diapers, art is Glenn Roger’s blood.
Now the proprietor of Boom Art, Rogers and his wife Sandy live to create. All of the works featured at Boom Art are products of both Glenn and Sandy Rogers. Some days Glenn will draw, and Sandy will paint. On other days it’s not that simple, and one of the two will head out to scavenge for a new “canvas.” Every piece of art that Boom Art offers is made from reclaimed or recycled products, many of which are found by thrifting or diving.
Boom Art pieces can range in price and variety. All of the pieces seem pop-art inspired whether its Liechtenstein, Haring, Warhol, etc. There are paintings, end tables, light-switch covers, postcards, picture frames, chairs…the list goes on. Each piece starts with a drawing. The recycled materials are painted in several coats of rich white paint to renew their innocence. The resurrected pieces are then painted and cured to withstand years of use, adorned with original artistic designs.
Boom Art doesn’t seem like a gallery because the works on display are affordable, a price phrase not often associated with authentic original art. Boom Art’s prices are not coincidental but intended. Besides doing what they love, Glenn and Sandy Rogers aim to give students, and middle-income folks, a chance to own original pieces of art. Proximal to art their whole lives, Glenn and Sandy know how unlikely becoming an art collector can seem, and what a shame that can be.
The most expensive pieces in the Boom Art Gallery seem to top out at around $500, except for one. “Naked With Socks,” a mixed-media painting that hangs in the back of the shop has a price tag of $25,000, or the price of a new mini-van according to Rogers. A naked woman is the central feature of the painting. Airbrushed in grayscale in the middle of the canvas, the woman is surrounded by two long argyle socks. The socks, lovingly shellacked onto the piece, were worn by Sandy herself on circus tours around the United States. While all of the pieces in the Boom Art Gallery and unique, “Naked With Socks” holds the most sentimental value – as evidenced by the price.
Further exceeding the value of “Naked With Socks” in the Boom Art shop are the memories. Next to the register counter is a short wall filled with photographs. There are pictures of Glenn and Sandy and a selfie with Michael Jackson. There are also pictures of Glenn and Sandy’s son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. Rogers described his son’s looks as that of a young Elvis, and swears that a marketing campaign for his granddaughter – Ana (short for Anarchy) – has already begun, under the punk-band name “8lbs of Anarchy.”
Rogers is an interesting breed of artist. For so long society has portrayed the artist as starving and quiet, worn from years of creating, misunderstanding, and rejection. Rogers, on the other hand, is vibrant and extremely talkative. Aware that our meeting had come to a close, Rogers encouraged me to escape the shop between his breaths, hinting that if I wasn’t quick enough, I might be there all day. That isn’t to say one would want to leave Boom Art – the gallery’s inventory alone could consume one’s entire day, never mind Roger’s stories and personal history.
Born prematurely, Rogers emphasized the struggle for his first breath, and how the fight to take that breath is paralleled by his motivation to continue to create and succeed. When I asked Glenn if a life of curiosity and bouncing from profession to profession, coupled with twenty years at Boom Art, has worn him out, he simply said no. “There’s plenty of time for that [imitating sleep] when you’re in the ground.”
Check out this YouTube video, the “Human Cartoon” by thisisbrazzo to hear Rogers for yourself.