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Rolland on the Villa

by Jamey Landry
As I studied the background material and paintings for this issue's cover artist, Rolland Golden, a child's song that is familiar to most parents with children younger than 30 popped into my head: "One of these things is not like the others. One of these things is not the same ... " I wondered: What do a Spanish villa, a checkerboard wash line and a set of dominoes have in common?

"Is this fun with geometry?" I asked, half-serious, but completely intrigued.

To my surprise, Rolland quipped back, "Exactly what you just said!" and went on to explain. "I like to create an analogy or similarity in images that most people wouldn't think of." He describes his style as "abstract realism, with a strong sense of design."

At his home in Folsom, Rolland talked about his various motivations and inspirations over his 46 years as an artist. As he sees it, his style and his motivations have evolved together throughout his career-the two have become so intertwined it is hard for him to pick which is cause and which is effect. Sometimes he is inspired to send a message; at other times he paints his subjects simply to see what they look like together.

"When I was living in New Orleans, I was upset about them destroying so many beautiful old buildings in the CBD and making parking lots out of them." Rolland's reaction was to mount an exhibition entitled "Demolition by Neglect." The series of paintings depicted dilapidated buildings, portraying neglect as a community not caring enough to preserve historical architecture. A similar show, "Death of the Plantation," was his reaction to Louisiana plantation homes that were being allowed to crumble into oblivion, taking an important part of our state's historical architecture with them.

More recently, Rolland's primary motivation for painting is himself. He explained to me that paintings in protest required being mad about something all the time, and, in his words, he "just got tired of being mad all the time." That led to more pastoral subjects, landscapes and the like, collected from frequent trips through France, Europe, the United States and our own state of Louisiana.

For our cover painting, one of a three-part series, the motivation was to see what these things would look like together. Rolland describes the scene as an actual villa in Spain that he and his wife Stella had visited a few years ago. The dominoes were a purchase from a local discount store. Working from photographs of the villa and the dominoes, Roland made a drawing in his studio in Folsom, combining the two.

Rolland further explained his style of abstract realism as his opportunity to take advantage of some of the natural abstraction that's in almost everything. His goal in this style of painting is to bring that abstraction forward without overpowering the emotionalism of the subject. For him, it's a delicate and important balance between intelligence and emotionalism. "I've never wanted the intelligent side of the painting, whatever the subject was, to overcome the emotion," Rolland says, "and it's really just a lot of fun and a pleasure to look at, I think."

Hinting at perhaps M.C. Escher, I asked Rolland if any other artist influenced the villa and dominoes series of paintings. He modestly explained that, while he feels all artists are influenced in some way by other works of art, his style is largely his own, evolving over the span of his career. Rolland's father was a gifted artist as well, and certainly had an early influence on him. He gives much of the credit, however, to John McCrady, his art school teacher. Recalling his experience with McCrady at the John McCrady School of Art, Rolland remembers fondly: "A great man, painter and teacher." He also credits Noel Rockmore as a later influence.

Given that Rolland's career spans more than four decades, it is no surprise that his work has been featured in several books and magazines. He has been interviewed numerous times on TV and radio. His paintings can be found in collections all over the world, and are frequently on display at several prestigious galleries. Recently, he had a solo exhibition at the National Arts Club of New York, where in December he was presented the Salzman Award for his painting, "Brass Band Assembly."

Rolland's paintings are available at several galleries across the United States, including the Crescent Gallery in New Orleans, and are featured on his website,, and on the Crescent Gallery website,


Copyright 2003, M&L Publishing, all rights reserved.