Warm welcome for the Rod Rolle exhibition

By Bonnie Carroll

It was an evening of local pride to see Rod Rolle’s documentary photography project showcasing the town of Guadalupe, the spirit of a community, on October 15 at a reception at the County Engineering Building Garden Atrium, 123 E Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara.

Rolle created the works during her tenure as a documentary photographer for artist Judy Baca’s Guadalupe Mural Project, commissioned by the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission in 1988-89 to develop the larger project. “The Big Picture,” a portrait of the city that Rolle created as part of the project, was ultimately exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum: Experimental Gallery. According to Rolle, “Guadeloupe is an undiscovered gem in the county of Santa Barbara”.

Rod Rolle, Documentary Photographer Guadalupe

The opening of the exhibit was attended by a host of local officials including Mayor Murillo, County Supervisors Gregg Hart, Joan Hartman, Steve Lavagnino, countless friends and family, as well as as longtime photographic friends of Rod Rolle. 1st District County Supervisor Das Williams and his granddaughters enjoyed the great Ethiopian dinner offered by Embermill Restaurant on State Street, like everyone else. “It was a who’s who of people who admire Rod Rolle,” said Mayor Cathy Murillo, who presented him with a beautiful bouquet to celebrate his opening.

Rod moved to Santa Barbara to attend the Brooks Institute of Photography and study photojournalism in 1982 and distinguished himself in both fields. He joined a group of fellow photographers to document their black communities and they created several exhibitions, in partnership with Shirley Kennedy, to produce their first Martin Luther King Jr. exhibition, a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. held at the Santa Library. Barbara Eastside in 1985.

Rolle’s images have been published in 250 media outlets in 36 countries. As a freelance writer for Gamma Liaison Pictures Agency, Getty Images and Sipa USA, he covered major media events, from the LA riots in 1992 to his award-winning photo of Michael Jackson standing atop an SUV in Santa Maria, which earned her a spot in Getty Images’ “Photo of the Year” Collection. As an accomplished artist, working as a drummer and singer, he has performed with many Santa Barbara groups over the years and with his own Stiff Pickle orchestra. Rod was selected to represent Santa Barbara in Memphis, Tennessee for the International Blues Challenge. To view a collection of his photos or to learn more, please visit www.rodrolle.photoshelter.com.

Kudos to our talented community member and thank you to the Community Services Division, which oversees arts and culture projects and programs with Santa Barbara County, and the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture for the project. mural Guadalupe, painter – the Judith F. Baca mural, and the photographic exhibition now available for viewing by Rod Rolle.

For more information visit www.sbac.ca.org

Corina C. Butler

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