James O'Rourke with an image by Pop painter James Rosenquist. Photo by Dave Wallis, The Forum
A popular art collector and cultural impressario in the Fargo-Moorhead area, James O'Rourke died March 3 after fall in his home. He was 77 according to an obituary in the Fargo Forum.
"He literally changed the lives of hundreds of us," said Minneapolis painter Charles Thysell, a longtime friend.
Born in Langdon, North Dakota, O'Rourke studied art at Concordia College in Moorhead where he concentrated on printmaking and nurtured an interest in architecture and design. An avid collector, he amassed more than 3,000 pieces of art which he has willed to his namesake Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead. He and his late brother Orland founded the institution as a gallery in 1960. His collection included pieces by pop artists James Rosenquist and Roy Lichtenstein as well as Native American, Asian and African holdings. The museum has appointed board member John Rowell as interim director until a new leader can be hired.