When one looks at the abstract art of Gerda Roze, you can tell that there's a lot of deep meaning in her work. When listening to the incredible life experiences of the 85-year-old, you instantly know that this is one special artist.
Born in Latvia and raised in Germany, Roze came to the United States in 1950 as a political refuge with her mother and husband (a Polish army soldier), after living in a national refuge camp for six years.
"I was always interested in art as a teenager, but my mother had me pursue music [the piano] but when the War came, I had to give that up," Roze said. "I had been studying medicine in Munich but had to stop….I finally finished my degree at the age of 35 at Columbia University, majoring in sociology and economics."
By then, she was divorced, and although Roze knew she had a talent for drawing, upon graduating, went into business as a consultant so she could help support her mother. She did, however, go to an art class once a week so she could "escape" through her paintings.
"It was a long week, until I could get to do what I loved," she said. In 1960, Roze moved to Mt. Vernon, where she currently has her own art studio inside her apartment.
"As it turns out, art is everything for me," she said. "When I was in the business world, I automatically went there and succeeded, but it was not where my heart was. When I had to make a decision to continue in business, it came to the point where I was thinking of art, so I decided to go towards art, and I felt complete."
When Roze retired in 1988, she decided to dedicate all of her time to painting.
"I have gone through all different styles, but for the last 30 years, have concentrated on abstract paintings," she said. "I look at everything around us as having color and shape. Whether it's a table or chair or cup. An abstract artist creates things unrecognizable so the viewer has to read into it."
Fifteen years ago, she also began monotype printing, producing one-of-a-kind oil-base prints.
"The creative process in my work engages both my intellect and my emotions," Roze said. "While the intellect underlines the obvious by designing my canvases in loosely formed geometric shapes, my emotional is expressed in color."
A collection of 27 of Roze's paintings are currently on display at the Mamaroneck Artists Guild in an exhibit entitled "Homage to the Circle."
Roze explains her fascination with the shape, calling it a mysterious figure that has no beginning and no end, that somehow almost always makes its way into her artwork.
"The circle is a universal symbol—so simple and yet so complicated. By trying to explore its unique shape, it has led me to a whole series of circle paintings and prints. In some works, one will easily recognize the familiar shape, in others, one will have to look for it."
An opening reception for the show takes place on Saturday, April 17, and the show will hold a closing event with a "Walk&Talk" by the artist on May 1, at 3 p.m.