Sunday, March 6, 2011

Baquet at Loyola; Miller at the Darkroom

Ah, the news-the blood, gore, libel and larceny--who could live without it? On a global scale such things are called "history." Locally they strike a more personal chord, as we see in Harold Baquet's photographs. For over 30 years, Baquet has recorded it all, but excels at a kind of portraiture of juxtaposition, so we see the first Mayor Morial feeding cake to Fats Domino on his birthday, a somber Miles Davis handing off a trumpet to a youthful Wynton Marsalis, and Earl Turbinton with a literally smoking soprano sax. There are also contextual portraits of Allen Toussaint at his piano and Tootie Montana in full Indian regalia, but of special interest are the barbershops, those nerve centers of neighborhood life where philosophical exchanges occur in a contemplative setting. Such small, telling moments share wall space with epochal events like Dutch Morial's funeral, a portrait of collective grief etched into the expressions of an extraordinary Creole family. All of this is familiar with the sweetness and poignancy of a family album, but this is an album of America's Creole city, and Baquet was there to record it all for posterity.

Much of the news today is more a matter of spin and posturing as mercenary cartels and noisy infotainment nonentities try to persuade a weary public to appreciate them. In this context, Lafayette photographer Colin Miller finds many targets of opportunity in his rogues' gallery of mass mediated dysfunctions, in images of himself as a snarky talking head looking glib as the Twin Towers collapse behind him, and the like. In HEARING, he locks eyeballs with a pelican on the witness stand as dour politicos dredge through the painful oversights that allowed global corporations to despoil our waters while holding us hostage to their money, in a wry new take on a sad old story. ~Bookhardt
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE: A Photography Retrospective by Harold Baquet, Through March 24
Collins Diboll Gallery, Loyola, 6363 St. Charles Ave.;
NEWSWORTHY: Recent Photographs by Colin Miller, Through March 31
The Darkroom, 1927 Sophie Wright Place, 522-3211;