Wonderful NOPA “Desire” Opening

neworleans_07feb2009_0136It was a great night tonight for the “Desire” opening at the New Orleans Photo Alliance. Even though the gallery staff was worried that the very popular Krewe du Vieux parade happening in the French Quarter tonight might keep the turnout down a bit, there was a constant stream of people in to view the exhibition.

Another opening at The Darkroom around the corner from NOPA featuring the work of local photographer Jackie Brenner kept us hopping back and forth between the venues in the beautiful New Orleans evening air.

It was a great night.

Several other photographers came in from out of town like me and that added to the special-ness of the evening. In addition, Mayumi Lake who jurored the exhibition was there and it was great to meet her and spend some time talking about our respective work and how she selected the photographs. She told me submissions for the Desire show were the largest number in the history of the organization. I continue to be very humbled to be selected from such a diverse and talented field.

neworleans_07feb2009_0132Ironically, Ms. Lake is currently a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, and even though we both work less than a mile from each other, everyone found it amusing that we would meet each other in New Orleans for the first time. Even more “small world” is that one of my interns is doing an independent study with Ms. Lake this semester.

It’s been one of those planets converging kind of moments around here for the last few days.

neworleans_07feb2009_0139After the opening Tom and Renee from NOPA invited Mayumi, Andrea Caldwell and Shawn Escoffery, two other photographers from the exhibition and myself out to dinner. We settled in at Juan’s Flying Burrito around the corner on Magazine Street for a well deserved celebratory feast of sorts.

The conversation ranged from all of our photographic experiences and some of the controversies we all cause as artists to the current state of the New Orleans recovery. One of the reasons I love to travel is to get a first hand account of wherever I’m visiting and it was fascinating to hear from people who live here what was really going on.

neworleans_07feb2009_0154Sadly it appears that even though it’s estimated that only about 70% of the population has returned since Katrina in 2005, most people think it will never quite be the same again. Too much damage continues to be mismanaged or ignored by the people who were elected to protect it, both locally and nationally.

I’m still hoping to get into the badly damaged Lower Ninth Ward on this trip to document what is happening there nearly three and a half years later and it looks like either tomorrow or Monday I’ll get a ride in to see it with my own lens.

Tomorrow evening Mayumi Lake is giving a public talk at NOPA, and I’ve been invited to speak about how I created the Black Pond series and the idea behind it. It’s going to be another great day.

The hospitality of the NOPA crew continues to be amazing. Very warm and welcoming people, they are. I couldn’t be any happier to be here.

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