joshua rose, a look back and a look present

Perhaps I am just in awe of everything when I settle down to really look at things.  Joshua Rose

Book of Hours (the first set), 2002

Looking at Joshua’s thirty year retrospective, the first thing I note is the incredible energy contained in all those many years of art making. The word practice comes to mind – thirty years of steady practice.  A lot of life springing off those gallery walls. The variety is rich, exciting in color, shape, form and intensity. Some works are loud, others are quiet, most is large, some – very small, and some are surprisingly realistic though much of it abstract.

Photo from 30 Year Retrospective

Photo from 30 Year Retrospective

Photo from 30 Year Retrospective. These two vertical paintings, Joshua notes, are "Homages to my parents and the smaller one is an early portrait of Jacklyn (his wife) from grad school."

Joshua Rose is an artist based out of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Once upon a long time ago, he was my graduate school advisor.  I can’t say I’ve known Josh for many years. A more true statement would be to say, I’ve known his work for many years, at least 20. We reconnected in 2007, when I was invited back to NMSU, as a guest lecturer.

I recall arriving on campus, and soon I was standing in his (still) familiar office, in the art department. He showed me some of his paintings that had just come down from exhibition. They were leaning on a wall. The paintings on canvas were very different from what I’d remembered while a student. His work was large, that hadn’t changed. Everything else about them appeared new though…light texture and patterned dots that moved in colorful swirls. Even in the dimly lit office, I could see the light in them. It changed as I moved (They changed, as I changed). They’re iridescent … reflective. Is that…glitter? I say out loud. Yes and some metallic paints, he responds. He smiled and quickly noted how strong they’d shown in the gallery, under good lighting. I saw some sort of excitement move through his body as he said that.


Today, as I begin to put this post together and narrow down images to include in it, the word yoga keeps coming to mind. Yoga – the union between body, mind and spirit. I also think of the elements: earth and fire in the early work, water and air in latter work. I mention to him it somehow all reminds me of the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’. Its’s all there! he says.

I look and think for a good long while. Here’s my impression of why Yoga (the Limbs are  Sanskrit)…

The body of work I’m focusing on here is personal and yet universal, the titles and compositions allow me to feel this.  They imply years of practice and involve the present – that’s the Yama and Nyama.  The control in the work, suggests several things, but especially a balance of logic and emotion – that’s Pranayama. The more recent works feel effortless, though I know they’re not. Josh comments on the process of multiple paint layers, the first with dots and the geometric ones with taped edges, all are quite time-consuming. No doubt. The paintings themselves are vibrant and physical – Asana. Not only can I sense the concentration, I’m drawn into it, I look closely – fostering awareness would be DharanaPratyahara, controlling of the senses – most certainly, they captivate. Dhyana, the art is meditative and all about devotion. I don’t have to say more do I?

9 am-2002-9x6


The two art works above, are the first appearance of pieces titled Book of Hours. I’m especially drawn to them (the series is the first image in this post), they appear like relics. I appreciate all the subtleties. The irregular edges give me the hint that they are on hand-made paper. The size impresses me as intimate, a form of journaling perhaps. The methodical dots, and the grid formation are reminiscent of time. Lights and darks, days and nights – he’s marking time.

I ask about the reference to time in the titles of the Book of Hours (older – above, and newer- below). I did not do them at any particular time of day but resolved to do 24 paintings that hung together as “a show” since they take a few days to do (even the small dot paintings) the name i.e. 9PM, is simply the name of the painting. 

Though time has passed and the work appears different, these larger newer 2011 paintings are a continuation of Book of Hours. A serendipitous moment occurs as I upload these next photos. I hear birds chirping in my yard, I see the birds in the compositions.
For more of this series, click here.

5 am


Joshua’s words: The current work is in many ways an extension of what I was doing with the dot paintings. In those works I was thinking in terms of a crude understanding of quantum physics where particles can be waves and vice versa depending on when and how the observer looks at them. I was and am intrigued by their dual nature. Of course I am not a scientist but an artist and can therefore mix it up with all kinds of different ingredients to suit some inner fancy. Science has to follow laws.

3 am, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 24", 2011

12 Midnight, 24 x 24", acrylic on canvas, 2011

Below are 2011 works. For more of the series (still in progress), click here.

ZigZag, 36 x 36", acrylic on canvas, 2011

slipknot, 36 x 36", acrylic on canvas 2011

He calls the next set simply 6 x 6 inches. I could have pulled numerous ones, it was hard to make a choice.  To see this series click here.



He continues… The new geometric work is about similar things to me (as the dot works) except that lattices and lines and geometric shapes take the place of the dots. It is as if I decided to use a different level of atomic organization as the ingredients for the stew. Instead of particles I am using fully formed “elements”, crystals, molecules and the like or what the dots might come together to make at a higher state of organization. Instead of waves, wavelengths that denote color within a framed allusion to a deeper space; instead of referencing rivers, they reference structures and window reflections and human created architectures of impossibility.


When I look at my work it is about “path” and not the external accretion of “meanings”.

And that’s what I resonate most with, that’s the yoga.

Joshua Rose is represented by Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, in Santa Fé, NM.

You can see more of his work at his website
He also has a couple of blogs. One includes his poetry…
Joshua Rose: Musings, Memories and Other Stuff
…and the other includes his photographs.
Daily Snaps: Photographs, Joshua Rose
He’s a creative character for sure.

a personal note:
After receiving the first set of jpegs for this post, I find myself feeling nervous.  I feel like a grad student, preparing for a seminar class and Josh is professor again. Am I prepared!? Snap out of it, I tell myself. Yeah snap out of it! Joshua says, That relationship ended the day you graduated (20 years ago?) and since then we are two artists swimming in the same wide ocean…

…to clarify… I never studied painting with Josh.  I was a drawing and printmaking student. He was my advisor and I met with him regularly. I appreciated his direct and practical nature. During a critique he told me… Payne’s Gray and Burnt Umber make a richer dark. He suggested I get a few paints, try Golden. I did take a class with him my final semester called ‘Methods and Materials’. He introduced me to pigments (color). Consequently I credit him for giving me a love of Egg Tempera, Casein and Guache.  And here I am now, twenty-one years later, a painter
swimming in that wide ocean…and it’s Cobalt Blue.

5 thoughts on “joshua rose, a look back and a look present

  1. What excellent and illuminating observations and commentary you have made on the dynamic work of Joshua Rose. It answers many questions I had about the past and present work. He was my graduate adviser and mentor in the mid 1980’s, when I was a “returning older student” (NMSU’s phrase). He gave me a background which continues to enrich my life. So, I was familiar with and loved his work then. His work was always full of energy, but these series you particularly discuss seem to be pure energy……so while I was invigorated by them, I have a much better understanding after reading this….


  2. Beautifully written, thanks for posting this. It was great to see these images and Josh’s comments.
    I was in the materials class too and I still work on wood panels as a result of the experience. Josh was a great teacher.


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