2012 Jazz Fest poster of Trombone Shorty a gem
The 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell poster is an explosively colored clarion call to Crescent City music lovers and art lovers alike. Titled "Porch Song: A Portrait of Trombone Shorty," the poster depicts a fiery sunset serenade by Treme native and New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts graduate Troy Andrews by former Treme resident and NOCCA graduate Terrance Osborne.
Osborne, 37, who masterfully designed the Jazz Fest's 2007 Congo Square poster depicting Philip Frazier and the 2010 Congo Square poster of Uncle Lionel Batiste, matches Andrews' muscular, kinetic trombone style with equally energetic brush handling and dynamic intersection of shapes.
Based on website previews of the poster, Osborne's expressive 2012 composition is among the best of the long-running series. It's certainly the most exciting offering since Douglas Bourgeois' poignant post-flood portrait of Irma Thomas in 2008. Conceptually, the combination of youthful subject and artist rescues the Jazz Fest souvenir from a rather stodgy recent trend.
Osborne, a Xavier University graduate, said that several inspirations contributed to the pyrotechnic 2012 image. As he painted, he said, he immersed himself in Andrews' music.
"The song I listened to again and again was 'For True,' he said.
As Osborne considered the popular trombonist's characteristic pose and how to place him in the Treme scenery, he said he was reminded of a scene from his favorite science fiction movie "The Matrix." In the scene, the hero takes a breath and "the whole environment drew in and rippled with him," Osborne explained. In the poster, Andrews seems to achieve the same sort of oneness with the architecture.
"When he's playing his tune, the neighborhood is bending to his notes," Osborne said. "It's almost as if he and the Treme are one."
Beneath Osborne's fluid, musical streetscape is an interlocking visual structure that transforms the scene into an abstract maze. Let your eyes ricochet around the red diamond that forms the dominant background shape, from the crimson sky above to the wedge-shaped red door on the left, to the bricks beneath the porch, to the scarlet house on the right, then back into the sky.
Now let your eyes trace Andrew's cobra-shaped body as it curves through the center dodging the background facets. Don't miss the tiny purple shotgun house that points like an arrow toward the bell of the trombone and the semi-circular Victorian roof ornament that halos the horn.
Every angle harmonizes with another. Every line contributes to the flow.
Osborne is a compositional control freak who commands every corner of the scene to perfection.
The mysterious woman peeking from a doorway across the street adds a little sizzle to the design. The tuba standing behind Andrews adds a little history. Though Osborne said he did not speak to Andrews directly during the poster-making process, he asked through an intermediary what the trombonist would like to see inside the open doorway in the scene. Andrews suggested a tuba.
"Tuba Fats (Anthony Lacen 1950-2004) used to come by when he was a little boy and leave the tuba in the living room," Osborne explained. "Troy would pick it up and try to play it." And the tiny TS painted in the brickwork, for Terrance and his wife Stephanie, adds a little romance.
In an email message forwarded from Andrews, 26, who is currently performing in Japan, the musician wrote that: "I think the poster looks wonderful - they did a great job - it's colorful and lively and has a great vibe. And I think this makes me the youngest AND the second youngest musician to be on a Jazz Fest poster and that's really a great honor for me." The image of Andrews seated on a curb was featured on the 2009 Congo Square poster.
"I'm so grateful, Osborne said of the high-profile commission. "This is where I wanted to be. It's exciting."
Osborne said he was in the midst of several painting projects when the Jazz Fest call came sometime before Thanksgiving.
As Osborne tells the story, poster producer Bud Brimberg "asked how busy I was?"
Osborne told him "I was slammed at the time."
So, Brimberg said, "It looks like you're too busy to do the official poster."
"I said no, no, no, I'm not," Osborne recalls. "It was kind of bittersweet. I had a bunch of corporate commissions at the time. I had to push those back, but how could I pass it up?"
Art and music fans can be glad he didn't. Based on today's computer-screen preview, the 2012 poster represents an ideal synthesis of New Orleans contemporary sight and sound. Osborne, Andrews, Jazz Fest and the rest of us can be proud.
Details about the poster: It is available for pre-order at art4now.com. Prices vary by editions:
- 10,000 Numbered prints on archival paper, 19" x 35", $69
- 2,500 Artist-signed & numbered prints on 100% rag paper, 20" x 37", $239
- 750 Artist signed and pencil remarqued, signed by Trombone Shorty & numbered Remarque prints on 100% rag paper, 21" x 39", $595
- 300 Artist-overpainted and signed, signed by Trombone Shorty & numbered C-Marque canvas screen prints, suitable for stretching, 26" x 40", $895
Read the story: "New Orleans Jazz Fest Congo Square poster artist Terrance Osborne paints old-time New Orleans houses from his new home in Gretna" here.
Doug MacCash can be reached at email@example.com or 504.826.3481. Follow him at twitter.com/DougMacCashTP.
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