HUBBARD SAVAGE: "Days gone by..." is a small painting of yours with a DAYS INN sign on top in the distance and two small derringer pistols in the foreground. It feels very American and cinematic. Can you tell me about this painting?
JOHN ROGERS: I grew up near a truck stop, just off I-83 outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It had sort of an unsavory reputation, and there were always unsavory characters there. At one time, it was the site of a major prostitution ring. A serial killer parked his truck there while he committed a murder a mile or so from my parents home. He walked from the truck stop and passed by my parents neighborhood to do this. I always remember the "Days Inn" sign sticking up from the back of the lot like a sore thumb. I think the sign lasted longer than the motel.
When I made the painting, I was thinking about that truck stop, and all the other ones I'd been to, the cheap motels I've stayed in. I was also thinking of neo-Western movies, such as "No Country For Old Men" or "Hell or High Water". Thinking about the seedy underbelly of America that most people try to ignore or neatly evade.
SAVAGE: When did you start making art, and when did you start taking it seriously?
ROGERS: I started making art at the end of high school. I was more focused on becoming a writer. A few years later, around the age of 21, I became more focused on art.
SAVAGE: The text that you put in your paintings, do you usually think of it after getting the image down, or simultaneously?
ROGERS: It varies from painting to painting. Sometimes the text comes from a song, or something I read or a conversation long before it enters a painting. The same can be said for the images. I have hundreds of physical notes and notes on my phone for text, and the same goes for images.
SAVAGE: Let's say you're talking to a friend of a friend who hasn't seen your work, and they ask about it. How do you describe it?
ROGERS: I have difficulty explaining my art to people without showing it to them. I think this is one of the drawbacks of my lack of formal art education, but then again if I had a formal art education what I would tell a stranger would be just as cryptic or confusing.
SAVAGE: I understand you painted on the side after your job in banking for many years, and that a few months ago you decided to pull the plug and focus on your art making full time. What’s that been like so far? Do you set office hours for yourself to make sure you put in the time?
ROGERS: It's been about a month since I left my day job. I'm still working on establishing a routine. My primary focus during the day, while my wife is working, is caring for my infant son Francis (Fritz). He's almost four months old. When/if he goes down for a nap, I take care of housework, or try to do some small tasks around my studio in the basement of our house. I still do most of my painting late at night, or early on weekend mornings. My biggest challenge is setting a time to quit for the day and get a good night's rest.
SAVAGE: I know “favorite” questions are awful, but what’s your favorite movie? Or maybe, who’s your favorite filmmaker?
ROGERS: My favorite movie is John Carpenter's "The Thing".
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