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Member Spotlight Kevin Cooper

Q: Why did you become a RoCo member
A: Art has the power to transform and RoCo’s programming is diverse, innovative, collaborative and educational. I am a local boy who made a career in the arts, and Rochester influenced who I am and I am proud to be a member.

Q: Tell us about an interesting experience you've had in Rochester.
A: I grew up on the west side of Rochester, attended SUNY New Paltz, and spent a semester studying pre-Renaissance art in Siena, Italy. I returned to Rochester after college with a B.A. in Art History, and a minor in Italian and I was confident I would find employment in the arts. After 6 months of mailing resumes, I had my school loans looming. I was a volunteer at the Memorial Art Gallery and I heard that Artworks Gallery, at Sibley’s, was looking for an assistant. Gallery Director Roz Goldman took a chance on me, and I eagerly entered the art world.

Q: What do you miss most about your local art scene since covid?
A: I miss going to art galleries and museums in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and interacting with people. We enjoyed looking at art anywhere we traveled.

Q: Do you have a favorite piece of Public Art in your area?
A: Kara Walker’s “Sugar Baby” at the former Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The artist's gigantic, temporary Black Mama Sphinx was made of brown sugar recalling the slaves who harvested the sugar. It was powerful and spoke of race, women, sexuality, slavey and wealth inequality.

Q: Tell us a bit about your career!
A: After Artworks Gallery, I was hired as Gallery Director for the Germanow Art Gallery, at the Jewish Community Center. Thanks to Roz Goldman’s recommendation and introduction, I was hired by an art gallery in Manhattan. Then, for 22 years, I enjoyed a career at the Brooklyn Museum, until my retirement in 2018. I feel very fortunate to have worked in the arts throughout my career.

Q: What’s the most recent thing you’ve added to your collection?
A: We have not added to our collection recently, but looking around, we love our Kehinde Wiley, “Louis XVI, Sun King” sculpture. It is from an edition of 250, and purchased from Artware Editions, on-line, before the artist painted Barack Obama’s portrait.

Q: What’s your favorite neighborhood in your favorite city?
A: Pre-covid, my partner Brian and I enjoyed visiting the medieval city of Siena, Italy.

Q: If you could have one artist create your portrait, who would it be?
A: Gerhard Richter - like the blurry black and white ones, from the 1990s.

Q: What type of art do you collect?
A: I was influenced by German Expressionist prints thanks to Roz Goldman, from Artworks at Sibley’s. Then, we began collecting prints and multiples. And, we have a drawing by Carol Acquilano and a painting by Phyllis Bryce Ely.

Q: If you could own any piece of art, which would it be?
A: David by Michelangelo

Q: Bowie or Dylan?
A: Dylan. Although, the Brooklyn Museum had an exhibition on Bowie and it blew me away. Still Dylan, though.