Preserving Second Line Culture: A New Exhibit

Published on: November 3rd, 2016

906x680 'Treme 200 Second Line, 2010' [Photo by Jerry Moran]

906x680 'Treme 200 Second Line, 2010' [Photo by Jerry Moran]
'Treme 200 Second Line, 2010' is among the images included in the Jazz & Heritage Gallery exhibit [Photo by Jerry Moran]

The Jazz & Heritage Gallery is presenting a rare group photography exhibition showcasing modern second line culture with images that document how contemporary culture bearers are advancing a tradition that is emblematic of New Orleans. The exhibit is curated by Charles M. Lovell and will be on display from Monday, November 7 through Friday, December 16. Collectively titled, “Preserving New Orleans' Second Line Culture,” this exhibit pairs works by contemporary photographers with historic images for a series that spans the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The second line parade has been a staple of New Orleans culture for more than 125 years, but there are many who have worried about its future. Whether it was due to the decline of the Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs that sponsored the parades, or (more recently) the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or the influx of non-native New Orleans into the community, the imminent demise of second line culture has been lamented by many New Orleanians for a long time.

The spirit of New Orleans’ culture bearers doesn't quit. Not only do we have new, young brass bands on the scene (such as the To Be Continued and the New Breed), but we also have new parade groups – with names like Nothing But Fun and the Old & Nu Style Fellas – who are exciting crowds with their costumes and dance moves. Bearing witness to the continuing vitality of the second line tradition is a band of photographers who love the sound and spectacle of the Sunday parades as much as they enjoy rendering it in beautifully composed images.

Works from current New Orleans photographers Judy Cooper, Brad Edelman, L.J. Goldstein, Charles M. Lovell, M.J. Mastrogiovanni, Jerry Moran and Leslie Parr are included in the exhibit, spanning the years 1990 to the present. It will also feature historical photos that are on loan from the Historic New Orleans Collection by the legendary photographers Michael P. Smith and Jules Cahn. The exhibit also showcases works by John Messina and Eric Waters that are part of the Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s permanent collection.

“I was trying to select the most outstanding photography of second lines, which is the thread that ties this exhibition together,” Lovell said.

A special opening reception will be held on Saturday, November 12 from 6-9p.

The Jazz & Heritage Gallery is located at 1205 N. Rampart St. It is open Monday through Friday, 10a-4:30p. Admission is free.

For more information, visit the Jazz & Heritage Foundation website.

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