By Diane Y. Welch
If a picture paints a thousand words then the art collection of Demi and Frank Rogozienski speaks volumes. The couple recently opened up their private collection to members of the San Diego Museum of Art’s (SDMA) North County Chapter (NCC) support council. During this recent “Art in the Afternoon” fundraiser event, guests were given a rare insider’s view of the Rogozienskis’ vast collection of art that fills every room in their light-infused Rancho Santa Fe Covenant home.
Interpreting the collection’s silent words was Dr. Ariel Plotek, SDMA’s associate curator of Modern Art, who gave an animated talk about several of the works. The Rogozienskis have a passion for 19th century French landscapes, most by artists from the Barbizon School. Named for the Barbizon village in the Fontainebleau Forest in France, the movement spanned only four decades, from 1830-70.
Plotek highlighted some of these paintings which represent about half of the Rogozienskis’ Masters collection. The art captures the beauty of the landscape in and around Paris, said Plotek. The other half of their collection comprises 17th century Baroque paintings, from England, Italy, France and Spain. The Rogozienskis also collect rare Russian iconography, sculpture, and French antique furniture and objets d’arts.
“The collection is overwhelming,” said Louise Engleman, a longtime board member of the NCC and now chapter ambassador, who attended and helped organize the event. “So it was nice to have a few pieces singled out by Ariel.”
A new acquisition on show was a Barbizon piece, “The Fisherman” by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.
“He painted the work as a series of four, around 1855, for the home of an artist friend of his, Leon Fleury,” Plotek explained. “The other three works are in museums.”
This work is remarkable in that Corot used vibrant colors and laid the paint down thickly with large brush strokes, a technique that foreshadowed Impressionism.
Museum Executive Director Roxana Valasquez praised the role that the NCC plays for SDMA in that it helps promote the museum while making people north of San Diego aware of its current programs. “It’s an important, fundamental thing that they are doing for us,” she said. “They are a very active group.”
Valasquez, who came to the SDMA almost four years ago and is the museum’s first female executive director, also had praise for the event hosts. “Frank and Demi have been a tremendous support of this institution,” she said. “They are an exemplary couple.”
This is the second year that Frank Rogozienski has served as SDMA’s board president, although both Demi and Frank have been closely connected with the museum for several years, Valasquez noted. “They really love art, and are sophisticated collectors who constantly go back and forth to Paris, where they understand the world of art auctions and dealers,” she said. Both share the passion to collect and Demi has developed a rare skill in the restoration of the often-delicate original frames that surround the art.
When asked about the “Art in the Afternoon” gathering, Frank Rogozienski commented humbly, “It’s not so much about our art collecting, it’s more about bringing people together that have a love of art in a way that supports the museum and furthers its goals.” Specifically for members of the NCC it fosters, “a very special relationship,” he added.
Plotek said that the Rogozienskis are a rarity in that not only are they very generous patrons of the museum they are also serious collectors. “There aren’t many people we can turn to who will lend us museum-quality art when we have wall space because our own works are on loan elsewhere,” joked Plotek.
From September through May, the NCC has monthly art-related meetings held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. In November Plotek is scheduled to lecture on two exhibitions that are slated for the museum’s fall shows.
Museum members can join NCC for an annual fee of $30 for a single member or $40 for a two-person membership. The lectures are free for NCC members and first-time guests, $5 for others. Visit https://www.sdmart.org/about/support-organizations for more information.