April 3, 2019

AMERICAN HISTORY GOES POP!

American history resurrected and re-imagined in a mixed-media exhibition

In Historic American Pop, currently on view at Fair Park’s Hall of State, artist Laura Roosevelt uses mixed-media worlds to resurrect and add new energy into famous moments from American history books.

With iconic images layered atop her textural abstract paintings on canvas, the local artist creates assemblages that speak to the past as much as to the present.

Roosevelt’s fascination with history stems with her name. Her famous moniker isn’t a coincidence; she is, in fact, the great-granddaughter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The Dallas native returned to her hometown last year, launching her art practice locally after spending years in galleries and art auction houses in Aspen and New York. Her ties to North Texas go back even further; her grandparents Elliott and Ruth Roosevelt resided on a ranch outside of Fort Worth. (FDR and Eleanor visited often for personal reasons and matters of state.)

Roosevelt began her Historic American Pop series five years ago with only a handful of pieces. Today, it amounts to 38 paintings, and this Dallas exhibition marks the first time that nearly the entire collection is on view in the same space.

Each piece in the exhibition is paired with a quote from FDR or Eleanor, selected by the artist’s aunt Chandler Roosevelt Lindsley before she passed away last July, and Roosevelt’s sister Liz Roosevelt Kelly. “Together, these are very powerful images and words—truly why this is a must-see exhibition,” says Roosevelt.

Audiences will encounter many Texan-centric moments including FDR’s dedication of the Centennial Building at the 1936 World’s Fair in Dallas, during which he famously said “I salute the Empire of Texas,” as well as Eleanor’s dedication of the Little Chapel in the Woods at Texas Woman’s University in 1939.

Roosevelt says after her aunt’s passing, she was spurred to commemorate as much of the family history for Dallas audiences as possible. To mark the opening of the exhibition, she organized a panel discussion featuring the grandchildren of FDR and Eleanor.

“The most important and sentimental reason for this gathering of first cousins is that perhaps this would be the last time they have an opportunity to visit and reminisce—for us to hear the stories of living, traveling, and being with their grandparents,” Roosevelt says. “It’s priceless.” —Alaena Hostetter

The Details: Texas Room in the Hall of State, 3939 Grand Avenue. On view through April 14. Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am–5 pm.; Sunday 1–5 p.m.