Our Spotlight on the Arts is shining brightly on Tom Rogers!

We selected Tom after admiring the fabulous new mural which he co-created at The Brüdergarten Beer Garden (located at Shepherd’s Old Field Market). Tom and fellow artist Dan Ropp designed and painted the 15-foot high x 30-foot wide piece in just under two weeks!

This project was commissioned with a short deadline to coordinate with one of the Brüdergarten’s favorite annual events. Brüderfest 2021 featured Weenie Dog Races, Stein-hoisting Contests, HydraFX in concert, beer of course, and also the unveiling of the fabulous new mural.

Shepherd’s Old Field Market owner Gerrie L’Heureux envisioned a locally themed piece reflective of the regional Southern Maryland area. The beer boots and pretzels were integrated based on customer feedback and the whole design was tailored according to the intricacies of the wall as well as the space available to work within.

After completing an on-site survey, an original sketch was digitally formulated and drawn out. Following much further consideration (and just two days before the painting process started!) the artists reconfigured their initial plans to better optimize the design flow and layout.

The artists quickly adopted an approach of viewing the project as a series of smaller paintings created in layers to give proper blending with the larger spaces punctuated by intricate details for balance. A piece of this size can become overwhelming in many ways so they felt that this would be the best plan of action.

The painting process was finished in just over four days with Dan chalking out the drawings for proportions and completing hand-brushed large block-ins followed by Tom operating the airless sprayer and meticulously adding the finer details.

Originally from Texas, some of Tom Rogers’ earliest artistic endeavors reach back to his youth where he enjoyed drawing colorful cartoon characters, portraits, landscapes,s and scenery on the walls of his house (and subsequently get into much trouble). Although these pre-mural antics were not appreciated at the time, he always found one or another type of artistic element to enjoy during his childhood, be it creating paintings or covering them up.

Adopted and raised by his great uncle and his wife, Tom related that he lived in a less than stellar situation in his home life.  “Art was my expression of that feeling, a way to externalize the internal things no one knew.”   

Rogers stated that he didn’t do well in school, and just before his senior year he left home and alternated living in his car and simply being homeless, which at the time was both terrifying yet freeing. Despite his own personal challenges, Tom still had a strong desire in his heart to help others.

Rogers made a difficult at the time but a conscious choice to work diligently to finish high school. It was during this period that he met with a U.S. Navy recruiter and discovered Search and Rescue, finding a calling with their motto of “So Others May Live”.   

Rogers signed up and made it through Rescue Swimmer School, a program that at the time had a close to 80% dropout rate. Tom’s artistic skills were soon noticed by his peers and he ended up enjoying the designing of their class t-shirts, patches, and flags. From these early days of his career, Tom’s active duty career was focused on helping others and doing a bit of art on the side. 

While deployed to Iraq, Tom enjoyed illustrating the beauty of the country, people, and at times just random objects and scenery that he saw.  “I never realized the few portraits of the locals that I created and gave to them were so cherished yet were so dangerous, but they kept asking for them anyway.” 

Fast forward some years: Tom Rogers, call sign “Rabbit”, traveled the world performing Search and Rescue missions and settled in Maryland in 2005. Having fallen in love with the beauty of St. Mary’s County and simultaneously starting his new dream job working full time in Test and Development, Tom felt like at last, he found his “niche”. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and young son as well as volunteering for several different community organizations.

Coming to Patuxent River and working in his current field has allowed Tom to follow his passions of problem-solving.  He still is able to continue with his love of flying, while helping to fix technical challenges with the end goal of making a difference for the warfighter in the fleet experiencing the very same problems that Rogers had faced in the past. “My way of helping.” 

With the onset of COVID-19, Rogers relates that he was lucky enough to be surrounded by brilliant people, eventually collaborating with co-workers and friends to form the Southern Maryland Agile Response Team (SMART). Partnering with the Pax River Naval Air Museum, the members of SMART had a mission to make 3D-printed face shields for use in our community.

During this early pandemic period and a particular time of need given worldwide shortages, over 3,000 face shields were locally created and distributed to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, the St. Marys’ County School District, and many other local businesses and organizations.

While busy at work, home, and his volunteer service, Rogers still finds time to enjoy his artistic endeavors. His diverse set of interests include painting, pyrography, illustrations, mixed media and fabrication, patches and logo design, and sculpture design. Inspired by 80’s cartoons and movies, comics, and various cultures around the world, Tom’s art is also at times reflective of mythology and sci-fi themes.

Tom and mural partner Dan Ropp has recently been commissioned to complete a new project in the heart of Downtown Leonardtown’s Arts & Entertainment District, scheduled to start later this year with details to be announced soon.

Thank you Tom for being a valued part of our community, we are excited to see your future projects!

Learn more about our featured artist at the links below:

Website: Flying Rabbit  (https://FlyingRabbit.Art)

Facebook: Flying Rabbit Art Tom Rogers (https://www.facebook.com/FlyingRabbitArtist)

Instagram: Tom Rogers/ Flying Rabbit Art @flyingrabbitart (https://www.instagram.com/flyingrabbitart/)

The Brüdergarten Beer Garden hours & location: https://www.brudergarten.com/

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