The last time Jermaine Rogers was here, he came to escape.
In the early 2000s, the artist from Houston had become well known for his “gigposters” as well as his role in the resurgence of the “rock art” medium. His posters for rock ‘n’ roll bands such as Radiohead and Tool were hot tickets for collectors and music fans.
“At that point, I had reached a certain level of success,” Rogers said. “I wanted to get away from everything. I wanted less people knowing who I was, where I was and what I was doing. I wanted things to slow down. I wanted some privacy.”
When he pictured a place to slow down, his mind went to Manitou Springs. Growing up, his family spent time there every summer. The Penny Arcade and wax museums and small-town feel gave Rogers “a lot of really cool memories.”
“As weird as Manitou is now, it was like really weird back then,” he said of the early 1980s. “There was an allure to it.”
In 2006, he moved to Manitou Springs and opened a studio/gallery near the Penny Arcade. His nearly five-year stay left an impact.
Rogers still calls it a second home.
So when an old friend, Dustin Booth, asked Rogers to show some work at the Manitou Art Center, the artist didn’t hesitate.
“To be able to bring a nationally known artist to our small gallery ... it’s pretty significant for us,” Booth, general manager of the Manitou Art Center, said. “We’re overjoyed.”
Nearly 10 years after he left, Rogers returned to Manitou Springs this month to open an exhibit, called “The Last Time I Was Here, I Was Bleeding ... Prints, Originals, Figures, & Failures.”
The exhibit of silkscreen posters and prints (and a few skateboards) is on display through Dec. 1 at the Manitou Art Center.
The title, Rogers says, refers to his time living in Manitou Springs. The “I was bleeding” part alludes to, he said, “the fact that growth can be painful.”
“When you’re growing, metaphorically, you bleed,” he said. “I was growing as a person on very basic and foundational levels.”
Because of that, Rogers said he left Manitou “as a different person than when I got there.”
A lot has changed since he left, too.
Rogers has done posters for musical acts like David Bowie, Neil Young and the Foo Fighters. Childish Gambino commissioned a poster for his concert at the Toyota Center in Houston.
Nine Inch Nails asked Rogers to do one for their Red Rocks Amphitheatre concert and director Jordan Peele commissioned one for the horror film “Get Out.”
Rogers’ work is part of the permanent collections of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland and the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
And his pieces — including vinyl and resin figures — have become even more sought after. He knows of hundreds of fans who have tattoos inspired by his artwork.
More than 200 people attended the new exhibit’s opening reception. People traveled from as far as Alabama, North Dakota and California to meet Rogers and get a chance at buying some of his work. Rogers debuted several new pieces in the show.
“He has a rabid fan base,” Booth said. “He has an army of fans who just really love his work and collect it.”
According to Booth, most of the pieces in the “Last Time I Was Here” exhibit have been sold. A proceeds of the sales will go to the Manitou Art Center, which is a nonprofit.
During his short visit in Manitou Springs, Rogers, 47, said he was happy to connect with friends, fans and younger artists hoping to follow his path.
“I love Manitou and I care about the arts scene,” he said. “I think it’s important that some of the newer or younger artists in the scene, who are making the lowbrow pop art, need to know what they’re doing is legitimate.”
And he promised not to wait so long before coming back to town.
On his way back to Texas, he posted a photo on Instagram of a window view of Pikes Peak.
He accompanied the photo with this caption: “I love you, Manitou Springs. The entire world deserves to know about you. I’ll be back.”