Week Fifty Two

W52 Interview: Craig Roper’s ProjectRoom celebrates two years

Posted in Art openings, Interview by sarahbakerhansen on 2 April 2010

 Images from the first two seasons of ProjectRoom. Clockwise from top left: “Act or Observe” installation, Anthony Hawley, Bob Hall & Eric Anderson.


Week Fifty Two recently had the opportunity to ask ProjectRoom Director Craig Roper a few questions in anticipation of the second anniversary of his Lincoln art space, based in the successful Parrish Studios space on 14th and O streets. ProjectRoom’s latest offering, “Home Theater,” featuring the provocative photography of Bradley Peters, opens tonight from 7-10 p.m. For more information, visit the ProjectRoom Web site.

Week Fifty Two: Have the first two years at ProjectRoom been what you thought they would be?

Craig Roper: Yes and no.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I knew I had an opportunity to bring a different approach to promoting art to Lincoln when I saw what The Parrish Studios could be.  I am pretty thrilled how many people from all over the country  have expressed strong support for what I am doing and actually love the small, unpretentious space and collaborative spirit that is ProjectRoom.  Another thing I was not expecting was how personally rewarding it has been and how humbling it is (as an artist myself) to work so closely with so many talented people.  Might I add that it is also a lot more work then I anticipated.  After it’s all said and done I hope I’ve helped introduce the work of some amazing artists to Lincoln and to the region who otherwise may not have gotten the exposure they deserve.

W52: The space has become known as one that’s not afraid to show challenging, unusual work. Was showing Bradley Peters’ photography on the anniversary of year two a specific choice or just one that fits with the gallery’s mission?

Roper: Bradley’s show was purely coincidental. He’s a super talent whose type of photographic work is not seen around here.  An anniversary isn’t important to me as a statement other than to look back and say, ‘Whew! That went fast.’  And yes, I am not the least bit afraid to show challenging, unusual and interesting work. It just has to be good.  I’ve seen a lot of art in my days and I think I have a pretty good eye for quality and thought.

W52: Did you ever expect the Parrish building to become what it has today?

Roper: I saw the potential immediately what with Tugboat gallery relocating here, Roundus, Chocolate Cake, Aorta, etc.  I did not expect the crowds would be so large and intense from the very beginning.  I love them all.  There is a very real, palpable hunger in this community for new, fresh art and the ideas that come along with it. They (the viewers) are very curious, supportive and engaged.  Everybody that works here and comes up here contributes to the creative vibe and quality of experience that helps to put us on an equal footing with much larger art centers in the country.  Believe me, people are watching what’s going on here.

 W52: What’s in store for the next two years?

Roper: I wish I knew!  Actually, I don’t have a master plan and I don’ t like to plan out my program more than 6 or 7 months out so that I can be a little spontaneous when given the chance.  I do have an incredible roster of shows lined up already and I will be working with more artists from out-of-state when I can.  I’d like to get some artists from ProjectRoom seen in other areas of the country and into the hands of more influential support.  I will continue to grow my contacts, seek out artists and their work, and hope that good things will grow from the seeds I’ve planted over the last two years. 

Images at right: Santiago Cal & Colin Smith. All images courtesy of ProjectRoom.