04.16.16 - 06.12.16


Michael P. Smith: “Follow the Music” - Signed Original Prints from his Spirit World, Jazz Fest & Second Line Series Opening Reception: Saturday April 16th, 7pm-12am On Display: April 14 - June 12

Scott Edwards Gallery is thrilled to present Michael P. Smith: “Follow the Music.”Michael P. Smith (1937-2008) is a New Orleans cultural icon who’s legacy stretches farther than many New Orleanian’s realize. Not only was he one of the first photographers to capture the Mardi Gras Indian Culture, Second Lines, Jazz Funerals, Spirit Churches and every Jazz Fest from 1970 until 2003; but he also was a founder of Tipitina’s and WWOZ. He began documenting New Orleans Culture in 1969 at the funeral of local musician Paul Barbarin and worked tirelessly until 2003 when the effects of Parkinson’s and possibly Alzheimer’s disease made it no longer possible to speak, let alone shoot. His philosophy for those 34 years was “Follow the Music.”This Exhibition is offering over 100 prints available for purchase. Many of these pieces are of the larger size (16x20” and larger) created by Master Printer David Richmond for the New Orleans Photo Exchange and the 2003 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Exhibition. Many smaller (8x10 & 11x14”) pieces are also available that were printed personally by Michael P. Smith.

"The camera is an extension of my knowledge of the inner working of the community that I have come to understand over a 25-year period. It's my art, my subjective view of the world I'm experiencing." -Michael P. Smith I don't think there's another photographer who has more sensitively documented very significant aspects of the second half of 20th century New Orleans culture.”- Steven Maklansky, former curator of photographs at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

"He did something that no other photographer had done: He captured the cultural landscape of the streets and did so with a vision of passion and beauty," - Jason Berry

"Mr. Smith's work is important,”“it serves to document not just the musicians and their music, but the environment, social structures and neighborhoods that both create and sustain the musical traditions." - John Lawrence, Director of Museum Programs at The Historic New Orleans Collection

Michael P. Smith received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Mayor's Arts Award, the Clarence John Laughlin Lifetime Achievement Award from the local chapter of the American Society of Magazine Photographers and the Artist Recognition Award from the New Orleans Museum of Art's Delgado Society. He also has two grants written in his name for the New Orleans Photo Alliance and the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts. Michael P. Smiths prints, over 500,000 negatives and other archival material were acquired by the Historic New Orleans Collection in 2007. His photographs also are in the permanent collections of the Bibliotheque National in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institut ion and, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Louisiana State Museum.A retrospective of his work was presented in 1999 at the Contemporary Arts Centre of New Orleans and at the 2003 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival(several pieces available from this exhibition). His work can still be seen at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival hanging throughout the grounds. Smith published five books: Spirit World: Pattern in Expressive Folk Culture of New Orleans (1983), A Joyful Noise: A Celebration of New Orleans Music (1990), New Orleans Jazz Fest: A Pictorial History (1991), Mardi Gras Indians (1994), and In the Spirit: The Photography of Michael P. Smith from the Historic New Orleans Collection.

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