“Mother Wit” by Riverside Artist Sandra Rowe

“Mother Wit” by Riverside Artist Sandra Rowe


Beginning February 1 through May 24, 2020 the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) is presenting Mother Wit.  The long-overdue retrospective by artist Sandra Rowe explores the full range and depth of her artistic expression. For nearly fifty years, Sandra Rowe’s work has been impossible to categorize. With her unflinching views of relationships, race, and gender, she pokes and prods, asking questions that are difficult to answer and which often go unspoken aloud. Figures are often stripped of gender and race yet, somehow, more deeply embody the core of the human experience.  RAM Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge said, “This retrospective is very crucial for the Riverside Art Museum to showcase.” Adding, “Sandra is one of Riverside’s most important art stories.” The Rowe exhibition is curated by Todd Wingate, RAM’s Director of Exhibitions and Collections, who showed Rowe’s work in the 1980s in his gallery, the Mind’s Eye in downtown Riverside. Throughout this time, Rowe and Wingate have maintained a good friendship. When Wingate came to RAM, one of his top priorities was to organize this retrospective. For over three years, they have poured over hundreds of pieces of art and combed through boxes of archives to create this powerful exhibition featuring Rowe’s life-time achievement of work. “For over 30 years, I have been awed by Sandra’s unflinching view of human nature and more so by how that view informs her work,” says Wingate. “Often deep or dark, but always incredibly powerful, Sandra does not shy away from shining a bright light upon social injustice in her work. She confronts it head-on, navigating the various layers created by love, fear, lies, and truths.” Former gallery owner Connie Ransom also shared her thoughts about Sandra and her work. “For several years, Sandra and I had studios next to each other in an old produce warehouse on Vine Street,” she began. “Sandra made me dizzy with all the art she was in the process of creating and her ideas for all the art that she was ‘going to make’ in the future. It was hard to keep up with her ideas because they clicked by so quickly. Nothing stood in the way of her creating except for time or health. Even then, she would put her time in bed or on the sofa to good use, constantly creating and breaking new ground.” Writing about her own work in 1994 Rowe said, “Living in this time and place provides all that is needed to give me abundant information from which I make art. My thinking about how language and visual art interface continues to motivate me. Usually in my work, they can only exist together: they complement, explain, clarify, connect with, and can only be understood when one explores the images and language together.”

Header Photo: “Mother Wit” by Artist Sandra Rowe

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