Terrance Osborne’s fanciful, New Orleans-centric work has become in his words “more colorful and decked out” over the years. His method of sharing his process with young artists has found new expression through social media as well. His subject matter, however, remains consistently rooted in and reflective of his beloved native city. Cottages, jazz bands, streetcars, cityscapes and local waterways are all recognizable local imagery.
Born in New Orleans and raised in the Tremé area, Osborne was introduced to art through his parents and brother, for whom art was a hobby. He participated in the the public school system’s Talented Arts program, in which practicing artists worked with gifted students and attended NOCCA.
“I was just a regular teenager,” he says. “I had my side hustles. My first was d
rawing on people’s pants and getting paid for that.”
Then, while at NOCCA, a visit to artist Richard Thomas’s gallery became a turning point. Osborne shifted from drawing to painting and set his sights on becoming a working artist. The work of impressionists John Singer Sargent and Van Gogh and local artist James Michalopoulos, known for his off-kilter houses, also made a lasting impression. The latter inspired Osborne to move from figurative works to landscapes.
“I always appreciated how [Michalopoulos] wasn’t interested in trying to make lines perfect,” he says. “Not a building in New Orleans is a straight line. That kind of freedom for an artist is very attractive.”
While majoring in art at Xavier University, Osborne experimented with multi-dim
ensional forms, using inexpensive 8-foot by 4-foot sheets of wood for his paintings and cutting them up to create a relief effect.
His current work continues to explore architecture and dimension. Some of his paintings depict houses stacked on top of a person’s head.
“Our houses are an extension of our clothing and our culture,” says Osborne, who calls himself a culture producer, has created five Jazz Fest posters, and has collaborated on projects with such giants as Coke and Nike.
In February a show of at least 15 new works entitled “The Color of New Orleans” will include an interactive, 7-foot, 3-D wine cabinet with a house on top. Viewers can walk completely around the piece, open its front door and reach inside to turn on the light.
“I’m always looking for something that merges the viewer with the art,” says Osborne. “I don’t want you to be able to pass my piece without being able to look at it.”
The Color of New Orleans opens Feb. 1, 2020 at Terrance Osborne Gallery, 3029 Magazine St., 232-7530, terranceosborne.com