Wednesday, May 25, 2011
New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011
"Only in New Orleans" - the phrase used by Irvin Mayfield at the
concert on Wednesday before Jazz Fest: nojazzfest.com The same
could be used for the fest as a whole. Where else can you wander
for 3 days between 12 stages with nonstop performances from
11Am to 7PM including Zydeco, Gospel,blues, main stream jazz,
folk, Haitian drumming, storytelling, Mardi Gras Indian
performances and more all while viewing a Contemporary Craft
Show, a Louisiana Art Show and a Haitian Art Celebration. Not
to mention spend the evenings in New Orleans listening to more
music! Then, return on Thursday for four days to start all over
again with different artists and performers. I had heard of friends
participating in Jazz Fest before, but did not understand its scope
and incredible richness!
New Orleans has long felt a special connection to Haiti. This year
Jazz Fest showed support and involvement by inviting Haitian
artists and musicians to set up in the Congo Square area of the fest.
Didier Civil was one of the artists there: didiercivilartsjacmel.com
The Contemporary Craft Show tents are set up by the WWOZ Jazz
tent, the Gospel and Blues tent and behind the main Acura Stage
There are only 60 Contemporary Craft exhibitors which makes for
a intimate show in a huge setting. There is no electricity and
creativity in display is encouraged. I brought along some bright
material to spice up my booth. We lucked out this year with the
weather - not too much wind (read dust...jazz fest is at the race
track), no rain and not too hot.
Awards are given. "Most Unique Work" went to Woody Jones:
woodyjones.com Woody was there with his wooden
"Mechanical Amusements" including his big Head which filled
up most of his corner booth. You can see it on his link.
"Best of Show" went to Lewis Tardy for his steel sculpture:
Tardysculpture.com Here is a snapshot of his booth:
The show includes photography and painting. We enjoyed
the photography of Frank Relle: www.frankrelle.com
especially his houses encrusted in vegetation. That's his photo
on the cover of the book : Nine Lives:Mysery, Magic, Death and
in New Orleans by Dan Baum.
With jazz reverberating all around and an enthusiastic energetic
eclectic crowd, I felt more at home at Jazz Fest than at
many shows. I've often thought about the connection of the
improvisational way I approach my work and the passion my
parents had for jazz and imbued in me. As with jazz, in
my approach to art making, you listen, build on experience,
but mostly trust in the flow that propels you forward.
The most surprising part of the fest for me was watching
the Mardi Gras Indians walk by in their amazingly
crafted feather and bead regalia. The costumes are exquisite.
I was unfamiliar with the depth of tradition they represent
and have been doing a lot of reading about the story behind
the Mardi Gras Indians since I came home. (The photo at the
top of this post is of one of the many performance by these
Just when I think my work is getting intricate, I look at
their work! Talk about inspiration to incorporate story
and really go for it!
I'll definitely apply to Jazzfest again next year. If accepted,
I hope we can arrange to attend before or after having
a booth. I'd love to wander, savor the performances
and absorb the energy in a relaxed fashion.
Next week's blog post - our trip to the warehouse
where the Mardi Gras floats are made!!
Adventure on! Wendy