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Take a walk on the far side at the Carolina Brewery

By Forrest Greenslade
Posted Monday, October 12, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - What happens when you mix the minds of Andy Warhol and Gary Larson? You get something like the art of Chatham’s own Roger Person. You can walk through that special place that is Person’s brain at the October/November exhibit at the Pittsboro Carolina Brewery. His recent dazzling selection of animals and pure forms will transport Brewery goers into a space far away and exciting. Meet Roger Person at an artist reception from 4 to 6 pm on Sunday, November 1 at the Brewery.

Roger Person considers himself a mixed media artist whose work often reflects his off-beat sense of humor. “I try to incorporate different materials in each piece that I create,” he explains. “I enjoy the challenge of designing large metal sculptures that are simple to build with standard materials and visually different from the materials I use.” For 25 years he worked in the engineering and construction business, and at one point, he ran a company specializing in building domestic elevators. Along the way, Person picked up a substantial knowledge of many materials and processes.

Another hallmark of Person’s art is vibrant color, influenced by Native American themes. “I had a winter home in Tucson, Arizona, where I studied the work of Native American artists. I began incorporating their themes and colors into glass work, and it evolved into much of my sculpture, paintings and prints,” he explains.

Roger Person will never forget the day in 1990, when he was standing on a ladder cutting a limb from a large tree. The branch released, knocking him from the ladder resulting in a crippling spinal cord injury. In that instant, this physically active engineer and adventurer was fated to life in a wheel chair. That instant also was the beginning of the career of an important artist (

Over the years, Person lived a very physically active life. He was a horseback rider, skier, tennis player, sailor, golfer and runner. But, that all changed that day on the ladder.

As Person recovered, he began to work with stained glass, as his artist wife Linda was working on stained glass projects at the time. To satisfy his curiosity, Roger started incorporating ceramic sculpture into his glass projects which produced unusual glass pieces. Working from a wheelchair presented special challenges for an emerging artist. “I actually enjoyed figuring out how to accomplish complex fabrications from my wheelchair,” he remembers. “I wanted to turn large wooden bowls, so I designed a special lathe that accommodated working from a wheelchair.” No matter what art project he undertook, he did it with great enthusiasm. “We are only limited by our desires,” Person stresses. As time went by, Person developed a network of skilled crafts people who fabricated the elements of his large assemblages, always working according to his designs and engineering specs.

Person began working with Very Special Arts (VSA), an international, nonprofit organization founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where all people with disabilities learn through, participate in and enjoy the arts.

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