This week, Monmouth College is hosting an old friend of mine. Roger Osborne, graduate of Monmouth High School and Monmouth College, artist extraordinaire, is showing a collection of his works for the public to enjoy, at the Len G. Everett Gallery, on the second floor of Monmouth College’s Hewes Library.
I have known Roger since the day my family moved in catty-whompus across the street from him and his family, back in the day when bellbottom pants and the television series “Dark Shadows” were all the rage. I have seen him grow from an unusual kid to an eccentric adult, and never have I been bored by him. Roger has several very rare talents, from exceptional cook (something he likely learned from his parents early on, but most of you will simply have to take my word for it that he makes meals to die for) to gifted artist to artful raconteur. He displayed all these talents even in high school, here in town, as a member -- and eventual president -- of the Monmouth High School Art Club. And, like anybody with a large body of talent and the ability to recognize it, he was often quite aggravating and frustrating to be around. I imagine it was even tougher for his parents and his teachers.
I hate to admit it, but, to no small degree, Roger Osborne has been an inspiration to me. His youth seemed reckless and full of abandon, but he seldom missed a detail -- except when it came to class attendance. His priorities did not necessarily lie in orthodox learning situations. But he was well-known on campus, and not simply as the offspring of a faculty member, the way some of us got labeled. Roger had a college “plan” named after him. Ask any of the faculty members who have been around for a while what they know about the Osborne Plan. I followed it, for as long as I could. Eventually, though, we had to spread our wings and depart the safe confines of small-town, small-school environs.
Osborne and I left Monmouth to seek our fortunes at approximately the same time, exploring separate parts of the world. While I went east, Roger went Far East. He made his way to Cambodia, where he discovered the mystery and majesty of the temples at Angkor Wat. Unlike many people I know, Roger embraced the place wholly, learning as much as he could about the cultures, the history, and all else about Cambodia -- which one can sense quite clearly, even in his earliest images from the city of temples. Osborne has returned many times, discovering new aspects of the region, and can offer much in the way of guidance and background, for the newcomer to the area.
The show he’s opening, with a reception Friday at 4 p.m., is many of his black-and-white infrared photographs of the ruined temples, and is titled “Angkor Wat: Millennium of Glory.” These photos are highly prized works, of which I am proud to say our family has... some. I hope to inherit at least one, some day. If you, too, are a fan of fine photographs and historical art/architecture, I invite you to join us at the reception, this Friday afternoon. If, by chance, you haven’t heard about the reception in time, or you can’t get away from whatever keeps you busy on a Friday afternoon just before rush hour in Monmouth, please stop by the gallery at least to see the show. Osborne’s works will also be for sale, and buyers will be able to take their purchases home at the end of the show in mid-June.
According to the Monmouth College website (www.monm.edu), the gallery will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a. m. until 4:30 p.m., and has Saturday hours as well. If you need more information about his show, you can contact Monmouth’s Office of College Communications, and the staff there will be able either to answer your questions or direct your inquiries.
Of course, you don’t have to see his photographs to appreciate Roger Osborne. You can sit still and let him talk, and you’ll still come away with a sense of having been in the presence of something uncommon. And I’d like to think that a little of that essence of the extraordinary has, to some extent, rubbed off on those of us who know him.