Blues are alive, Our Living Past on view at Alexandria Museum of Art;
celebrates and supports musicians and real living Blues legends in photos.
OUR LIVING PAST FEATURES PALLADIUM PORTRAITS AND STILL LIFES THAT
CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF AMERICAN CULTURE THROUGH BLUES AND ROOTS MUSICIANS
Februaryß 2017 | Alexandria, Louisiana —
“THESE PORTRAITS OF SOUTHERN BLUES MUSICIANS PROVE THAT BLUES IS NOT DEAD” – TIME MAGAZINE
As the 40th Anniversary year of The Alexandria Museum of Art progresses in 2017, AMoA’s newest exhibition, Our Living Past, pays homage to the past, celebrates the present, and looks to the future of Blues music culture in the South, and across the United States. This photography exhibition by Tim Duffy and the Music Maker Relief Foundation features palladium portraits of Music Maker Partner Artists. Highlighting Music Maker as a hub for cultural preservation, artists such as Ironing Board Sam, Sharon Jones, and Taj Mahal are among the collective of musicians featured in Our Living Past. The exhibition itself was produced through collaboration with renowned publisher Steven Albahari of 21st Editions and was also sponsored by Cathead Vodka, a dedicated supporter of Music Maker artists. Our Living Past debuted at the Atrium Gallery of the Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta, GA on November 20th, and has been booked to travel on through 2018. It opens on March 3, 2017 in Alexandria, Louisiana, and will be on view through May 27th, 2017, and will be on view at AMoA during business hours on Saturday May 26th, during The Little Walter Music Festival (May 26-27), held annually in Downtown Alexandria. An opening reception will be held on Friday evening, March 3rd, from 6-8pm. As part of the exhibition, Alexandria Museum of Art will present an AMoAAfterhours musical performance on May 18th, from 6:30-8:30pm, featuring Music Maker Partner Artist Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen (whose photo is in the exhibition). Since the age of six, Pat was surrounded by music. Her blues classroom was on the porch of her uncle’s house where one played the guitar and the other played the harmonica. Music Maker assisted Pat through the New Orleans Musicians Fund, and she toured with the Music Maker Blues Revue in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. In 2014 Music Maker helped Pat Cohen get a vehicle so she could make it to her gigs. Admission is free for AMoA Members, and $5 for non-members. Advance tickets may be purchased at themuseum.org/motherblues.
The exhibition features original portraits of traditional Southern musicians, whose careers have been reignited through their work with Music Maker. The images were captured by Duffy himself and give a glimpse into the rich historical narrative and vital culture of southern traditional music. Duffy’s life work, to preserve this culture, now takes on a tangible form through Our Living Past, and the importance of such a work is already gaining recognition. A recent headline from a piece published in TIME reads “These Portraits of Southern Blues Musicians Prove That Blues Is Not Dead.” The article stresses how Duffy’s work is re-contextualizing the narrative in which Blues musicians are often discussed.
After a remarkable 20th year anniversary celebration with nods from the Wall Street Journal, PBS News Hour, NPR Weekend Edition, CBS Evening News and many more, this collection of palladium prints has been curated and produced to continue preserving and sharing the stories of Music Maker artists forever.
Most recently, The Music Maker Relief Foundation created the Baton Rouge Musicians Fund (BRMF). The fund was created in partnership with the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation and will directly support musicians impacted by the Louisiana Flood.
Beginning August 12, 2016, heavy rains fell over the state of Louisiana. The record-breaking flooding, caused by the nearly seven trillion gallons of rain, has damaged more than 60,000 homes.
One of the damaged homes belongs to 91 year-old blues pianist Henry Gray, a native of Kenner, Louisiana. Gray, who still tours both solo and with his band, Henry Gray and the Cats, has travelled the world playing the blues with the Rolling Stones, Howlin’ Wolf and countless others. Despite his success on the global stage, Gray still lives in a humble home, and like 54 percent of home owners in the flood zone, has no flood insurance.
As news of the historic flooding hit, Music Maker Relief Foundation Founder and President Timothy Duffy was quick to respond. “Music Maker has been helping roots musicians in crisis for more than 20 years, so when we heard that legends like Henry were impacted by the flooding, we immediately reached out to send aid,” Duffy said.
When Clarke Gernon, Jr., president of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, heard Music Maker was helping Gray, he offered to partner with Duffy to help the many other Louisiana musicians in need. “Guitars. Keyboards. Amps. These among other instruments are the tools of the trade when you are a working musician in the Baton Rouge Blues community. When these items are gone, not to mention one’s house and possessions, it really limits your ability to pay your bills. We hope this relief fund can help bridge the gap and get these suffering musicians back to playing the blues and not just feeling them,” Gernon said.
Duffy agreed and offered to mobilize Music Maker resources to set up the Baton Rouge Musicians Fund and assist these performers. “In a disaster like this, we first need to help stabilize an artist’s health and housing situation,” says Duffy. “Then we can focus on getting instruments back in their hands and giving them access to stages so they can rebuild their livelihoods.”
Contemporary artists around the world recognize the significance of roots musicians from the South. Grammy-winning artist Taj Mahal is lending his support to the Baton Rouge Musicians Fund and hopes others will join him. “These musicians are the foundation of all popular music in the world. When disaster turns on them, it is not time to turn our backs. Let’s show them the respect!” Mahal said.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Baton Rouge Musicians Fund through Music Maker at musicmaker.org.
About Music Maker Relief Foundation: The Music Maker Relief Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit, was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Music Maker will give future generations access to their heritage through documentation and performance programs that build knowledge and appreciation of America’s musical traditions. Since its founding in 1994, we have assisted and partnered with over 300 artists, issued over 150 CDs and reached over a million people with live performance in over 40 states and 17 countries around the globe.
About the Alexandria Museum of Art: The Alexandria Museum of Art opened in October 1977 as the public organ of the Central Louisiana Art Association, which had existed since 1938. Since its inception, the Museum was housed in a complex dominated by the historic Rapides Bank Building, c. 1898, a National Register structure. The Mission of the Alexandria Museum of Art is to foster a culturally rich community by engaging, enlightening and inspiring individuals through innovative art experiences. For additional information visit www.themuseum.org.