Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Get Your Own Book by the Students in the Summer 2009 Program!

Fresh off the presses, the books by students participating in the Summer 2009 New Orleans Travel and Study Program are now available! Click on the images to preview the books! As I get links from the students, I'll be posting them here.

Don't forget that you can come out on Thursday, September 10th to hear about all of the student projects at 5pm at the Hennepin County Library-Central Branch (Doty Conference Room). After the talks there will be a reception.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Exhibtion Opening Soon!

Please come out for the festivities--not only is the current class going to present lectures and have an opening at the Hennepin County Library-Central Branch, an alumnus of the program (Keith Cich Wi'09) will be having a two-person exhibition at the Mill City Museum! Details below!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Time Machine: Tuesday, June 30th....The Last Sunrise

I was out with Lisa and Amanda bright and early to finish up Amanda's block by block documentation of the Mid City neighborhood that is in a tug-o-war between two competing medical interests that wish to level the area to build a new hospital.

After that, I brought them to one of the gems of the St. Roch neighborhood, a strange "venue" --a row of houses actually--called CC Projects. The houses have disintegrated more and more over the last year plus I've been going there. The students know I feel very strongly about not trespassing in people's houses, and don't think that was okay in the photographic wake of Katrina. CC Projects is this eerie constantly changing performative installation, speaking to the flood in different ways by different artists. Having been there three or four times since Winter of 2008, I see the remnants of earlier artists under the newer coats of paint, frenetic drawings, and deteriorating mud covered floors.

The white house piece was so moving to me--so pristine and bold in its commentary on the impossibility of returning home for so many. Perhaps is is more profound as these imploding installations to its left, live in equally stunning skeletons of the same shape--same era--same architecture. All uninviting and funerary to me. I feel bad for my trespasses, even here. I want to get into the white house, but even as our light leaves us on this last sunrise shoot, it's far to early to knock on the door across the street where the owner who holds the key resides.

The last two images are from around St. Roch. Another Banksy found on an out building that leads me to new questions about architecture--the neighborhood is loaded with these ornate Spanish influenced structures, behind main houses. I'm very curious--and surprised that the students continually lead me on paths where I find new faces of a city I feel I know so well.

I can't wait until next Wednesday night--I ran into a couple of our students from the trip this week--between new classes. They all looked clean and well rested--luxuries none of us enjoyed much of in the dripping weather a southern June can deliver--two days the hottest on record in New Orleans. But next Wednesday, we get to remember again, and see wider edits of everyone's work. My favorite time, when we start talking about making books, my old stomping ground.

Time Machine: Monday, June 29

Here are a few more images of students on the road to Delacroix. Lisa, I believe, may have quite the documentary film on the whole trip:

Here's Lisa documenting Nick....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Time Machine: Saturday, June 27

Amanda trying to inflate a dolphin by the time we return to the beach with food, in order to gain permanent shotgun status.

Bay St. Louis
On Saturday, after a sunrise shoot in Versailles with Lisa and Peter, we all piled into the cars for a much needed outing to the beach. Stephanie's uncle's family lives in Bay St. Louis, and it seemed like a good idea to see how Katrina affected this Mississippi community. What we saw was a main drag that had very few businesses recovered completely. The stopped in time quality of a sea shell shop, dark, and protected by 6' chain link fencing, was the most overt. It would have been easy, for anyone who did not know what had happened there four years ago, to think it was the economic downturn. The town, where we went, has cleared the rubble of Katrina, where New Orleans is a sad cemetery for thousands of homes. I found myself wondering about the state's efforts--what the heck is happening in Mississippi, that isn't in Louisiana? But then again, Haley Barbour, Governor of the State of Mississippi, managed to get a disproportionate amount of recovery funds for the state. Minus the rubble, this town's business district reminded me of Lakeview and Gentilly only one year after Katrina. Under the leadership of Nick, several of the students prepared a leftover fireman's boiled shrimp scramble.
Everyone was exausted and sunburned by the end of the day but wouldn't give back the experience...maybe the sunburns, but not the experience.

Time Machine

Finally a breather to post--so these will be chronologically challenged as a I process files...

Monday, June 29th:

After a wonderful morning going way out on the bayou to Delacroix (the so called "end of the road") with Kristyna, we made one last trip to Algier's Point for Nick to photograph a couple last firehouses, and for Lisa to finish up with a taquerilla--capped of course by the consumption of a final quesadilla on the ferry--which I found.

Minnesota college photography students all making pictures of the exact same thing (gator). Good spotting Nick!

I mean "the end of the road". Delacroix is small --there were some houses on very high stilts, the site of a new firehouse, and fishing boats. It's beautiful in its serenity though.

Somebody in Delacroix really likes oysters!

I'm hoping Nick got this guy's name. He and a couple of other men work shrimping and crabbing in Delacroix.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nearly Homeward Bound

After nine days of shooting, driving, po' boys, sunburns, fruit loops, shotgun points, thunderstorms, shrimp, safety, taco stands, sunrise, firemen, jazz music, sunsets, bayous, road trips, hot hot heat, levees, alligators, FEMA trailers, street cars.... well, pretty much everything but the snowballs... we are nearly homeward bound.

If you've been following their blogs, you are aware by now that the students have been working extraordinarly hard. Colleen and I are going to have a difficult time curating this show with such tremendous work to choose from. I am so proud of the work these students have done and I am looking forward to reconvening (after what remains of summer break, of course) in Minneapolis.

Please continue to stay tuned to the blog as we will be posting more information about our upcoming presentations and exhibitions happening in September at the Minneapolis Public Library.

In the meantime, Adios/Au revoir Big Easy....and thank you to the fine folks of New Orleans. We hope to see you again soon.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Versailles Farmer's Market

Sometimes sunrise shoots are more difficult if one has over enjoyed the city the night before...

Things are a little out of order, here in the blog, but I'll try to catch up today. Yesterday, one the morning shift I drove Peter out to Versailles for the farmer's market. Apparently the market is very well known, evidenced by the other photographer there on assignment for the illustration of a cookbook.

Lisa tagged along, so after Versailles we could stop at a location for her project on the growth of the Latino community in New Orleans. Lisa and I hung back and let Peter do his thing for a while, but eventually Lisa decided to go try to make a few pictures of her own--there is a very large community of Latinos in Versailles. There's a storefront used as a place of worship, a taco stand, and restaurants.

Day 5: The shooting and driving of Friday, June 26 (until 12pm)

I was kind of proud of the vast needs covered on Friday. All the way out to a boat graveyard way out Chef Hwy, all the way to the former site of an amusement park on Pontchartrain...and managed to have a student wander into Metarie, but managed a successful extraction before heat stroke ensued.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

On Bayou Teche with Donovan Garcia

Donovan Garcia on Bayou Teche from Becky Olstad on Vimeo.

Um, when was this now?

At some point in the last few days, the following things occurred (How's that for journalistic-centered specificity?!):

As Colleen mentioned, we rode along with photographers from the Times Picayune. Lisa, Stephanie and I rode along with Jennifer Zdon to a shoot covering the preservation of a 275 year old tree. After returning to the offices, the students had a chance for some one on one feedback with Jennifer and we all got an inside look at Ted Jackson's workflow and editing process. This continues to be one of the best experiences of the trip. The staff at the paper is incredibly generous with their time and knowledge and we can't thank them enough!
Yesterday, (I think!) I went out with Kristyna to Bayou Teche where we met Donovan Garcia who so graciously took us out for 4 hours on the Reserve to show us the environmental impact of the gas and oil industry and provide a first hand look at the importance of the wetland preservation. I'll be posting a video shortly of Donovan sharing some of his insight. In the meantime, a short look at the view from the back of the boat. (You may not want the sound for this one -- it's just wind noise.)

Kristyna on Bayou Teche from Becky Olstad on Vimeo.

I also headed out to St. Amant with Stephanie and at some point after returning to New Orleans I managed to stop being in motion for the first time in 14 hours.

Days 4 and 5 in Pictures

I drove pretty much from 5:45am until 9:45pm following students and ferrying between different essay projects of eight of the students, and Becky had two different long trips with two different students....so more prose later--we promise!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Firemen, Bayous and Taco Stands - Oh My!

Safety was the name of the game today as I headed out to drop off, pick up, drop off, pick up and drop off photographers all the way from the Lower 9th Ward to Bayou Sauvage so they could make photographs ranging in subject matter from the rebuilding of communities along the levees to the firemen of St. Bernard Parish, and the importance of the wetland preservation.

The bad news is I made very few photographs today. The good news is the students are making some fantastic work and today they shared their photographs with Tony Lewis, Curator of Visual Arts at the Louisiana State Museums. Be sure to follow the links to the students' blogs for samples of their work and updates from the Big Easy.

Below, Kristyna pulls a Rich Ryan while shooting on the bayou:

Also this afternoon we had a photography tour at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art with Preparator, Richard McCabe, including a private viewing of the museum's prints from photographer Birney Imes.

Tomorrow, it's off to the Bayou at 6am!

Wednesday: Time Picayune and Taquerillas

Yesterday we went to the Times Picayune for a tour and to meet the photographers. Doug Parker (who rocks, even when on vacation) had set it up for all of the students to get to ride along on assignment with the photographers! I, Amanda, Kristyna, and Nick had the good fortune to tag along with Ted Jackson.

Ted has a surgical methodology, that was a pleasure to watch. The day was topped off with Ted giving all of the students a lesson in his workflow when he comes off assignment. His pictures were staggeringly beautiful, and the quote of the day was from Amanda's lips, "This is waaaaay better than crabs."

In between it all, we had a terrific lunch at a great place somewhere up near Riverbend. Above is Rusty telling this amazng story about being in a zero gravity plane to make pictures. Jennifer Zdon asked hm what his most amazing assignemnt was. Pretty amazing--that--and the day.

Lisa and I set out not long after our return from the paper to a networking event for Latino business owners at a casino in Kenner (suburban New Orleans). She collected some very good leads in the form of business cards, and then we were on our way to a fabulous dinner adventure in Mid-City. We hit a little stretch of restaurants on Carrollton.

We went into a taquerilla that was great...yeah, I had one taco of chorizo and two with barbacoa (barbaqued beef), and I can report that they didn't hold a candle to the taco stand at Tennessee and Claiborne. Hands down. LIsa did a great job of talking to taff and maing pictures.

Hottest Day Ever.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Morgan City & Barataria Reserve

Yesterday, Stephanie and I drove west out to Morgan City to meet with Harlan Guillot (yes, a descendant of the inventor of the Guillotine.) Mr. Guillot shared stories from his life in which he has done everything, he said, "except murder someone and skydive." He then directed us to the best Shrimp Po'Boy in town.

After lunch in Morgan City we drove out to Cajun cooking central, the Hot Sauce Shangri-la, Avery Island -- Home of Tobasco.
After returning to sweet New Orleans with my newly purchased gallon of green tobasco, Colleen, Kristyna and I drove out to Barataria Reserve where we saw five alligators, a water snake, and lots and lots of spiders:

So far this morning, it's been off to the 17th Street Canal and the London Canal with Dyer and McGoff and now we're all off to reconnect with our friends over at the Times Picayune. If I get a chance to compress some files -- I'll post some exciting videos shot with the Canon 5D Mark II! The footage is gorgeous!