Artist returns for chapter 2 of ‘A Roseville Story’

images courtesy of Bob Murphy

images courtesy of Bob Murphy

images courtesy of Bob Murphy

Citing the connection between art and history, mixed media artist Bob Murphy has linked up with the Roseville Historical Society to present “A Roseville Story, Chapter 2.”

This second chapter, to be presented Monday, May 20, at the Roseville Skating Center, builds off the well-received presentation Murphy gave last fall at the Roseville Library as a part of the Featured Artist Series by Arts Roseville, which is also sponsoring the event.

“It’s all new, it’s not the same presentation that I made at the [Roseville Library],” said Murphy, 69, pointing out it will include a fresh set of stories and photos, and a new film.

A life-long Roseville resident, Murphy has been photographing the city since his teens. He worked in the ad industry and taught at the college level.

“The things that have happened here in Roseville have been my history,” he said, “I’ve been able to be a part of it and see it.”

When the historical society began in 1977, Murphy said he remembers reading about it in the Roseville Review and thinking that the organization could become something interesting.

Now, with the group moving into a new space at Roseville City Hall, he said he sees his presentation as an opportunity to help the historical society kick off its own new chapter and build awareness of what it’s doing.

Murphy points out that history matters. “We learn from the past and the traces that are left by those that have come before us.”


Impressions of youth

Featuring photos from the ‘60s and ‘70s, the presentation will be about what it was like to come of age in mid-century Roseville.

“It seems like everyone is always interested to hear about the drive-in and those teenage years,” Murphy said.

The eight-minute film is original for the event, and consists of images from Super 8 home movies shot by Murphy’s father when he and his siblings were children. 

The film is backed by music courtesy of blues musician James Haye, an Alexander Ramsey High School grad who now lives in Washington state.

Murphy created his film by shooting still images of his father’s footage as it played. Combining his images of the past, Murphy said, “You get the feeling of people moving in and out of the frame, and that suggests the passage of time, fleeting moments and memory.”

“It’s hard to really wrap your brain around it because I’m not letting the viewer see [the images] sharply — they’re impressionistic like a painting.”

Murphy said as a younger person he never understood why his father was always filming his kids, their friends and cousins, but it later dawned on him.

“He was giving us kids attention and pointing to the significance of our friendships through the use of film,” he said. “I just thought he was playing around with his camera, but actually there was more to it, there was an objective and a purpose.”


What might be

Though this time linked to the historical society, Murphy said he thinks the upcoming presentation is in line with Arts Roseville’s mission of bringing the arts to a diverse audience and creating more opportunities for artists in the community.

“This [presentation] is an example of what could happen,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.”

A member of the Arts Roseville board, Murphy said the organization seeks to partner with more local groups.

“Art can be intertwined in all kinds of programs and departments, and I hope we can reach out to more organizations, besides the historical society, to work with them to integrate the arts into their programs,” he said.

With nearly a lifetime of photos stored at his home studio in Roseville, Murphy said he hopes there will be more chapters in his Roseville story, and would like to see the work somehow displayed permanently, 

“I would like to see where these talks go,” he said, “what it can lead to and what kind of conversations can be started.”


–Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813. 

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