Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ponderosa Stomp Presents Bobby Rush

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

The legendary Soul Blues singer, Bobby Rush, played Ogden After Hours on Thursday, April 23. Born the son of a preacher man in Homer, Louisiana,1940, Bobby Rush moved to Chicago at an early age. In the 50s, he played in Chicago bands with Freddie King, Earl Hooker, and Luther Allison. Trips to visit family in Arkansas found him on stage with the great Elemore James.

In 1971, Rush had a hit with the Galaxy single "Chicken Heads," and he spent the next decade travelling the "chitlin' circuit" from west Texas to Florida to Chicago, and back. In the 80s, he settled down in Jackson, Mississippi, signed to a number of labels, settling into Malaco Records.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

In 2003, Bobby Rush fulfilled his dream of owning his own label, Deep Rush. After more than fifty years on the stage, he shows no signs of slowing down. He has found new enthusiastic audiences in New York, Europe and Asia, and still plays to working class audiences in packed juke joints on the chitlin' circuit. Thanks to the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation for bringing Bobby Rush to the Ogden Museum.

Rare Images of Pops and Hamp

On Thursday, April 23, 2009, the Ogden Museum opened the exhibition Timex All-Star Jazz Show 1958: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic. Jerry Dantzic was one of three photographers hired to document the rehearsal of this rare collaboration between New Orleans native, Louis Armstrong, and Kentucky native, Lionel Hampton. Using a few Leica M3s, Dantzic captured both the energy of musical performance and the intimate moments between these legendary artists.

More widely known for his pioneering color panoramic work that led to two Guggenheim Fellowships and a 1978 solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this work positions Dantzic in the context of the great jazz photographers of the 50s. In 1999, Jerry's son, Grayson, became archivist for the Jerry Dantzic Archives. Grayson found the negatives and contact sheets for this shoot hidden away in his father's studio. Some of these images have never before been printed . Besides Pops and Hamp, there are great images of Gerry Mulligan, Gene Krupa, George Shearing, Jaye P. Morgan, and the Dukes of Dixieland, to name a few. Grayson, also the archivist at Atlantic Records, worked with Ogden Museum curator David Houston to organize this exhibition, up through July 19, 2009.
For more on Jerry Dantzic and the exhibition: http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=30510. Top photo Louis Armstrong, Timex Jazz Show #2, Rehearsal, 4/30/1958 by Jerry Dantzic, Copyright (c) 2009 JERRY DANTZIC ARCHIVES, All Rights Reserved. Bottom: Grayson Dantzic and his mother, artist Cynthia Dantzic. Photo by Cheryl Gerber.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jeffrey Cook (1961 - 2009)

New Orleans lost one of her favorite sons this week. Jeffrey Cook, artist/dancer/educator, was found dead in his home on April 7. He was 48.

Born and raised in Central City, Jeffrey studied at Xavier University and San Francisco Art Institute before becoming a professional dancer. At Xavier, legendary New Orleans sculptor John Scott served as both professor and mentor to Jeffrey, teaching him that the best ideas and subject matter come from the city streets. After receiving an MFA from SFAI, encouraged by his friend Shaun Early, he auditioned for and earned the position of Principle Dancer with the Los Angeles Repertory Company, a position that allowed him to perform in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy, Hong Kong and Scandinavia, as well as several major stateside cities. His dance career also included a stint as a Solid Gold dancer, and a brief role in the 1984 film Breakin'.

Upon his return to New Orleans, he established a studio in a renovation located in the neighborhood of his youth, Central City. It was here that he created a series of painted and collaged work that leapt off the wall and referenced the patinas and architecture of his environment. Works such as Making of a Melody incorporate found objects, signs, and handmade dolls to comment on the social and physical neglect of a community, combined with a nostalgia for the neighborhood's former glory and hope for the future.

In 2002, the Ogden Museum began a new educational program, Artists and Sense of Place, which places artists in month-long residencies in public schools. The purpose of the project is to show students how to explore a sense of place through art. Jeffrey was placed as artist-in-residence with Guste Elementary. The theme was Magic in our Neighborhood. Jeffrey photographed abandoned buildings and fences in Central City, made copies for the students, and taught them to make these images beautiful through art. See the entire project here: http://www.ogdenmuseum.org/education/magic.pdf. He went on to participate in four sessions of Artists and Sense of Place, as well as other educational programs at the Ogden.

When the Ogden Museum was preparing to open Goldring Hall to the public, Jeffrey was part of that crew. The very first nail that supported the first painting was hammered into the wall by Roger Ogden and Jeffrey Cook. Today, as we were hanging Making of a Melody on the fourth floor Goldring Hall, one of the many cardboard boxes opened to reveal an envelope no one had seen before. It contained ephemera from the Ogden's Grand Opening celebration (where Jeffrey performed a dance choreographed specifically for the event) including a slice of the symbolic red ribbon. It was so like him to hide our own history in a work about his personal history and sense of place. Jeffrey Cook was a great friend to the Ogden Museum, and he will be missed by all.

On Tuesday, April 14, 2009, a memorial service for Jeffrey will be held for the art community at Ashe' Cultural Arts Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Wednesday, April 15, 2009, services will be held at Ashe'. A viewing will take place from 9 a.m. till 11 a.m. followed by a memorial service.

Michael Meads

Alabama-born New Orleans artist, Michael Meads, is featured in a new exhibition at New York's ClampArt, aptly titled Kids Behaving Badly, where he shares the walls with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and Mark Morrisroe, among others. Michael is a great supporter of the Ogden and our mission. Due to a recent donation of Michael's paintings, drawings, and photographs, the Ogden now holds the complete Eastaboga series, as well as a sampling of every phase of his career from his very first snapshots to his large detailed drawings set in the French Quarter.

Check out Rafael Soldi's blog review of the ClampArt show at http://rafaelsoldi.blogspot.com/2009/04/kids-behaving-badly-at-clampart.html.

Top photo of Michael Meads at Rue de la Course in New Orleans by David Houston.

Below: Nicky at Salt Creek, 1993 by Michael Meads.