Friday, April 13, 2007

LA artist's exhibit to aid New Orleans music community

To honor the music community of New Orleans who suffered tremendous losses following Hurricane Katrina, Robert Sturman, a Los-Angeles based mixed-media artist, will debut a new portrait series -- TIME ZERO: The Art of New Orleans Music at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell (April 27-29 and May 4-6). On view in the Grandstand at the Fair Grounds Race Course (at the Food Heritage Stage) and at the Big Chief VIP Experience Lounge, a portion of sales will raise funds for three charities: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation Inc., MusiCares® Hurricane Relief Fund, and the Tipitina's Foundation.

On April 26 from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., Art Neville and his wife Lorraine will host the artist and exhibit his work at a cocktail reception in The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans' popular lounge, FQB. The Ritz-Carlton just reopened in December after a fifteen month, $100M renovation and restoration project.

The infamous Henry Butler will perform during the first hour of the reception, from 7:30 until 8:30 p.m. after which Marva Wright, the Blues Queen of New Orleans, will take the stage until 1:00 a.m.

A collection of the artist's images can be viewed and purchased at . To create the portraits, Sturman used a vintage Polaroid SX 70 camera and Time Zero film, then immediately finished each piece by hand, manipulating the still fluid and malleable surface of the photograph until the image reached its creative potential. The light and color-saturated works—which are later digitized and enlarged—are a fusion of painterly technique and photographic vision.

"When Polaroid decided to discontinue the Time Zero film stock, I realized it was my last chance to create a body of work with it,” said Sturman. "Around the same time, Hurricane Katrina hit and I immediately felt that I should use the last bit of film on New Orleans. I chose to focus on musicians because I believe they celebrate the soulfulness of the city. So, while I am out of time with my precious medium; the clock is starting to tick again for the city of New Orleans. I'm hoping this project will continue to focus attention on the vibrancy of its music.”

The signature piece of the collection is the image Sturman shot of the legendary Fats Domino inside his gutted home in the 9th ward. Domino's experience during the hurricane galvanized many to the plight facing the cultural icons of New Orleans. Among the portraits in the exhibition are (in alphabetical order): Theresa Andersson, Henry Butler, Jon Cleary, Philip Frazier, Dr. John, Ellis Marsalis, Art Neville, George Porter, Jr., Kermit Ruffins, Terrance Simien, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Walter "Wolfman” Washington, Dr. Michael White and many others.

Sturman's portrait of Dr. John will be featured on the cover of OffBeat Magazine's annual "JazzFest Bible” issue. Sturman plans to create additional portraits for a commemorative book that is currently in the planning stages. The book will allow each artist to document their personal stories and reflections about the disaster.

Long acclaimed for his images of musicians, Sturman was the official visual artist of the 47th Annual GRAMMY® Awards. His portrait of legendary blues man, B.B. King, was officially selected as the image to celebrate the musician's 80th birthday tour. The exhibition is being produced by Jonathan McHugh of Song Stew Entertainment. A Tulane graduate, McHugh is a film/TV producer and Recording Academy Trustee who will celebrate his 25th Jazz Festival this year.

"After meeting Robert and seeing his work, I envisioned this project as a way to give back to the city and its musical community that have enriched my life so much,” McHugh stated.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. is the non-profit organization that owns the Jazz Festival and uses the Festival's proceeds to fund cultural, educational and economic development activities. It was founded in 1970 with a mission to sow the seeds of its unique culture for generations to come.

MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need to cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies. To date, MusiCares has raised and disbursed over $3.5 million in financial assistance to over 3,500 musicians from across the Gulf Coast.

The Tipitina's Foundation has worked diligently to uplift the music community of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, the Foundation addressed the immediate needs of exiled musicians. An important aspect of the rebuilding process has involved finding replacement instruments for both professionals and music students alike. So far the foundation has given away over $500,000 of new instruments.

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