NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and The New Orleans Jazz Museum announce a new exhibit, Exit Stage Right: Zack Smith’s Festival Portraits, opening to the public on Friday, Dec. 3, at 5:30 p.m. As both a musician and photographer, Zack Smith believes the world gets smaller as we celebrate our similarities and connect through our traditions and stories. Smith’s mostly large-format film photographs have the ability to bring subject and viewer closer together, and his custom environments foster intimacy. The opening of the exhibit coincides with Sound Collage, an annual event celebrating the intersection of visual art and music through a mixture of musical performances, illuminated installations, digital sculptures and dance. The three-day festival culminates with the Jazz Museum’s Improvisations Gala on Saturday, Dec. 4.
“We are excited to see the city of New Orleans recovering and beginning to thrive,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Preserving and documenting the city’s culture is vital to its survival. We are proud to see the New Orleans Jazz Museum working to educate a new generation of musicians about the city’s rich artistic legacy.”
The images included in Exit State Right: Zack Smith’s Festival Portraits showcase the late ChazFest in the Ninth Ward, HIP Fest, Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, the Ponderosa Stomp, and the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, where he worked with Preservation Hall. The photographs show musicians, music fans, backstage workers, and assorted hangers-on in quiet moments amid the festival chaos. Zack Smith curated the exhibit with New Orleans Jazz Museum Curator David Kunian.
“I’ve been seeing Zack Smith in many contexts for a couple decades,” said David Kunian, New Orleans Jazz Museum Curator. “These photographs show a mix of respect and irreverence. They show the people and musicians of a past festival world that has faded, but also the vibrancy of festivals today as they hint at the shape of future gatherings.”
In wake of the pandemic, the New Orleans Jazz Museum’s mission transformed into providing support to local musicians and culture bearers comprising the city’s vibrant artistic community. “Zack Smith has been documenting the scene for more than twenty years,” said Greg Lambousy, New Orleans Jazz Museum Director. “As we look towards the future, it is important to appreciate the people and places that make New Orleans unique. Zack’s photographs capture the feeling of freedom that many of us have come to miss and hope to reclaim.”