Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Brief Encounter with New Orleans

Beads and Barbed Wire, by Jason Huntzinger
New Orleans is one of those places that makes an impression on you. My visit to the Big Easy happened in the spring of 2005, a few months before Katrina's visit. I was struck by the pumping stations and shuttle bus driver's bold pronouncement that this was a city that defied everything, being below sea level as it was and surrounded by bodies of water. I saw the tombs, and walked the walk on Bourbon Street, stood outside the window where Jennifer Flowers played piano in the evenings. Listened to the jazz and caught some other great sounds.

All this came to mind as I thought about Jason Huntzinger's photo exhibit opening tonight at the Duluth Art Institute. Huntzinger's photography exhibition is titled A Brief Encounter with New Orleans and will be on display through the end of October. But if you like the social discourse that accompanies openings, you'll want to be there at 5:00 p.m. tonight at the Depot.

There's definitely something intriguing about New Orleans for writers, artists, photographers and film makers. The city doesn't just create a mood, it is a mood. The Big Easy, Blaze, A Streetcar Named Desire and Easy Rider are just a few of the many Orleans-based films that would be diminished in any other setting and give us glimpses into the city's soul. 

Some of John Heino's most intriguing photographs happened in New Orleans. This month Jason Huntzinger shares some of his best shots showing how a photographer interacts with new surroundings and plays artist-as-tourist. Like the city itself, his images make an impression.

Earlier this year I spoke with Huntziniger about how he took up photography. "I became interested in photography because it suited my disposition. I picked up a friend's camera one day about twenty years ago and made an image of a scene in the rain and realized just how transformative a medium photography could be. That was the beginning. I started checking out a lot of photography books from my college library on great 20th century photographers like Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Minor White, Ernst Haas, Lee Friedlander, etc. Minor White was the first great influence as far as another photographer. He was photographing spirit."

Huntzinger moved to Shakopee, MN last fall and is becoming increasingly active in the Twin Cities art scene. "I've been in one group show at Altered Asthetics and have other plans in the works," he said. 

And if you're into artist who work with cameras, I would also encourage you to check out tomorrow's opening at the Washington Galleries, 5 People with Cameras: City Limits.The five photographers in this group show are Brett Grandson, Jeremiah Brown, Lydia Walker, Joseph Thoennes and Samantha Pranger, each with one's own vision and approach to capturing that vision.

Note: The lower photo by Huntzinger was taken in Minneapolis, but is shared here to show how he amps mood in his explorations of light and shadow.

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