Alla Rogers Gallery at Georgetown's Canal Square is the Washington area's only specialist in contemporary Eastern European art. Owner Alla Rogers set up shop in 1990 "because I could see events unfolding that made me want to be among the first able to show this kind of art," she says. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and Rogers was quick to take advantage of the new freedom for artists who had effectively been "disenfranchised . . . for the better part of the 20th century."
Rogers rotates shows regularly, coordinating openings on the third Friday of most months with several other galleries that share the 1054 M Street NW address overlooking the C&O Canal in Georgetown. She says she mostly presents "solo shows," displaying the work of individual artists who already are well known in their own countries; but adds there is considerable range stylistically in her choices, from "academic" landscapes to abstract paintings and photography.
"I'm looking for artists with a high degree of training and imagination," she explains. "I'm not really into raw, avant-garde, 'bad boy' art, because I see a lot of bad artists who are cynically painting what they think Americans like." Rogers's price list ranges from about $200 (for a photograph or print) to $10,000, she says, "with the average price for a medium-size painting running $3,000 to $4,000," depending on the artist.
The gallery, facing a brick courtyard at Canal Square, has the flavor of an elegant sitting room, a sharp contrast to the barren, white-walled space so popular with many contemporary art galleries. The furnishings help visitors get a feel for the scale of the art in a domestic setting, Rogers explains.
Before launching her gallery, Rogers worked as a writer, translator (she speaks Russian and Ukrainian) and special-events planner. She has led several international artist exchanges in Ukraine, Russia and Washington, funded by various private and corporate sponsors.
-- C.J. Mills