Jackie Brenner, Richard Sexton and Jennifer Shaw Book Signing
1927 Sophie Wright Place
New Orleans, LA 70130
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday Night Grind
The old world character of New Orleans is at once elegant, cultured, and refined, yet dilapidated, boisterous, and vulgar. To document these abundant eccentricities, Jackie Brenner is drawn to subjects that expose the night people of her hometown with Bourbon Street and her strip clubs as the perfect tease. To gain entry into this darkened, shadowy world was difficult, almost impossible. Friday nights, better known as date night in the Crescent, were chosen to penetrate the fantasy, harshness, and humanity of the stripper’s world; to become a witness to the reality of their ‘otherwordly’ existence. These are women who find the amount of money that can be earned too hard to pass up regardless of the consequences. The women are a little bit of everyone just trying to make it through the day using whatever resources available. This project began expecting the strippers to be mere objects and it finished knowing these ladies as human beings. Jackie Brenner’s enigmatic images now serve as historical record of the time before Hurricane Katrina’s devastation created another obstacle in the path for all of us who are addicted to the character of New Orleans. Just as these women struggle to survive, so will New Orleans, as her people fight to preserve, rebuild and insure the integrity of her survival.
Jackie Brenner, fine art documentary photographer, born in New Orleans, La. in 1948, studied at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art. She has participated in many group shows, the Florence Biennale 2007, has had solo exhibitions in the Leica Gallery in New York City and The Darkroom in New Orleans, LA. Her images are included in the permanent collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Odgen Museum of Southern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and many private collections. Her work has been published by CameraArts Magazine, InConcert Magazine and Focus Fine Art Photography Magazine and “Ken and Thelma – The Story of Confederacy of Dunces.” She is the author of the seminal book, “Friday Night Grind,” a haunting collection of photographs presenting the underbelly of a Bourbon Street strip club.
“To document the abundant eccentricities of my hometown, New Orleans, I make portraits of the environments that share the dichotomy of her unique personality. I chose Bourbon Street and the strip clubs to penetrate the fantasy, harshness, and humanity of the stripper’s world: to become a witness to the reality of their “otherworldly” existence. I started this expecting strippers to be mere objects. I finished knowing these women as human beings.”
Hurricane Story by Jennifer Shaw is a graphic novel told in 46 photographs, illustrating the strange true tale of her family’s evacuation adventures, including the dramatic birth of their first child on the day Katrina hit.
Jennifer Shaw grew up in Milwaukee, studied photography at RISD, and then moved to New Orleans in pursuit of the artist’s life. She teaches the disappearing art of darkroom photography at the Louise S. McGehee School and works as a freelance photographer, with a concentration on her personal work and custom portraiture. She is a founding board member of the New Orleans Photo Alliance, and chairs their annual PhotoNOLA festival, in addition to chasing after two young sons.
Jennifer’s photographs have been featured in B&W Magazine, Shots, Light Leaks Magazine, The Oxford American and The Sun. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and is held in both private and public collections, including the Huntsville Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Until recent hurricane catastrophes struck the area, the American Gulf Coast—a dynamic region of marshes, swamps, bayous, beaches, and hardwood forests—has tended to evade national consciousness. In Terra Incognita, photographer Richard Sexton reveals this oft overlooked landscape in a series of dramatic duotone photographs. Covering the gulf coast from the Mississippi River to the Florida panhandle, Sexton’s images of woods and wetlands resonate in their spare simplicity and enduring grandeur. Panoramas of gnarled trees, vistas of sea and sky, and juxtapositions of palmetto scrub with vacant lots depict the haunting terrain of the gulf coastal plain.
Contrasting natural phenomena with found objects, organic environments with constructed ones, Sexton’s imagery plays upon subtle patterns of mutation and transfiguration. In one photograph a chunk of Styrofoam is encrusted with marine life, in another an abandoned pecan orchard sits next to a bank parking lot—each evoking the transformation that occurs when nature gets tangled up with land development. No less striking is the alteration brought about by decay and devastation by natural forces, often hastened by human factors. With their focus on cycles and the passage of time, loss and renewal, these photographs remind us that this ancient terrain is fragile, under constant pressure to contend with both human intervention and the vagaries of nature.
Richard Sexton was born in Atlanta and raised in Colquitt, Georgia. He began photographing while he was an undergraduate student at Emory University and is primarily self-taught as a photographer. He was an early member of Nexus, a cooperative photography gallery founded in Atlanta in the 1970s. After he graduated from Emory in 1975, he attended the San Francisco Art Institute in 1977 and 1978. In late 1979, he began a career as a commercial photographer in San Francisco, specializing in architectural/interiors photography. In 1985, he began his first project with Chronicle Books forming a relationship that has continued to the present. Terra Incognita is the latest of eight titles with Chronicle, which have included the best selling New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence and Vestiges of Grandeur: The Plantations of Louisiana’s River Road. Sexton’s work has been published in numerous magazines in the United States and Europe including Abitare, Archetype, Garden Design, Gulliver (Periodici Rizzoli), Harpers, Landscape Architecture, Louisiana Cultural Vistas, Photo Metro, Preservation, Smithsonian, Southern Accents, and View Camera.
In 1997, Sexton curated the exhibit “Sidney Bechet: A World of Jazz 1897-1997” for the Bechet Centennial Committee, which commemorated the centennial of the highly-influential jazzman’s birth. In 2005, he received his first major museum exhibit at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. This exhibit featured work from a handmade fine art book, The Highway of Temptation and Redemption: A Gothic Travelogue in Two Dimensions, self-published in 2004. Sexton’s photographs are included in the collections of The Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans Museum of Art, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and numerous private collections. His multidisciplinary studio is located in Faubourg Marigny in New Orleans. Since the mid-1990s, he has taught photography at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. Additional information regarding Richard Sexton’s work and gallery affiliations is available on his web site: www.richardsextonstudio.com.