Gary Kelley, Dennis Ziemienski, Charlie White III
Program covers from the last three Super Bowls.
New Orleans Super Bowl
posted: February 1, 2013
With the SuperBowl returning this weekend to New Orleans, it seems like a good time to bring a project out from the archives. In Spring of 2001, my friend Brad Jansen was art director at the NFL, he called to ask if I’d be interested in designing the official poster for the 2002 Super Bowl to be played in The Crescent City. It was an intimidating assignment. There’s a long history of illustrated Super Bowl posters dating back to the first game in 1967 and a lot of great illustrators had their shot at it. Even though the formula was the same every year – The Vince Lombardy Trophy surrounded by visual elements of the host city and no football players, there were some wonderful posters produced by illustrators that I’d always admired. The art gets used on program covers, tickets, and lots of souvenir items and becomes a part of NFL history.
New Orleans has no shortage of visual imagery and Brad and I decided on a collage of architecture that kind shows a view from the French Quarter in the foreground up to the Superdome at the top with, of course, the Lombardi Trophy in the center. We needed an image of a jazz musician and I included my friend, the long-time Saints fan, Wynton Marsalis. The poster was approved without any big revisions and I looked forward to seeing it printed on all its applications. Then, 9-11. All bets were off for a few weeks and football didn’t seem too important.The NFL cancelled some games, adjusted the playoff schedule and decided to scrap the official logo and poster for a patriotic theme. Brad asked me to send him some ideas for a new poster, the new brief was Red-White-and-Blue, Football Players as Heroes, Eagles, Flags, and The Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The sketches I sent all were rejected, and the new poster was a retouched photo, an image of the trophy with an American flag reflected in it.
The next year the Super Bowl was played in San Diego and Brad, being the mensch that he is, knew I was disappointed with the outcome from XXVI and asked me to design the poster for XXVII. We came up with a vintage travel poster vibe showing the Southern California coastline.
There have been a lot of changes at the NFL since 2002 and it seems to me that they have just stopped trying to design memorable posters.
Treme in The New Yorker
posted: September 24, 2012
HBO’s Treme is my favorite show, an hour of TV that feels like a visit to New Orleans each Sunday night. There’s not a lot of explanation, you’re just dropped off in some very authentic Crescent City settings and you have to figure stuff out as it happens. There’s language that you only hear in New Orleans, many local musicians play themselves, and the excellent cast just blends right in. Fact and fiction becomes the same thing, the way that reality and legend always blends for me during an actual visit to The City That Care Forgot. So, when Chris Curry at The New Yorker called to see if I’d do a piece to accompany Emily Nussbaum’s review of Treme’s Season 3, I said yes right away. After one false start and a change in the final printed size we ended up with a piece that shows some of the cast outside LaDonna’s bar. There are skyscrapers in the background to refer to the idea that the recovery in New Orleans is not reaching every neighborhood.
During my research I found this very rare Antoine Batiste LP in the used bin upstairs at The Louisiana Music Factory.
Wynton Marsalis 50th Birthday
posted: October 15, 2011
It doesn’t happen every day that you meet one of your heroes. When that meeting turns into a friendship and then a collaboration, you know you’ve been blessed. Wynton and I met almost twenty years ago, for a poster project that we both signed. Since then I designed a poster for The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that depicted him in his Crescent City hometown, we’ve worked together on two books, and I spent a week out on the road with him and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra making sketchbook drawings. Wynton has won a Pulitzer, nine Grammys and numerous other citations and honors, he has been an inspiration to many, many musicians and people who are making their way in the world as artists. Whenever we meet, he always acknowledges the accomplishment of survival with the words “So, we’re still out here.” I’ve admired so much about him, the way he leads fifteen of the greatest jazz musicians of any era in the JALC Orchestra, the way he sits with young musicians who bring their instruments to a concert hoping for advice from the maestro, and his thoughtful writing and lectures on the important place that jazz music holds in our history and culture. I’ve seen him working on a symphony in a hotel room with no piano, and I’ve seen him stay late after a gig talking to fans until it’s just him and the guy locking the place up. Tuesday is Wynton’s 50th birthday. There has been a week-long series of concerts at JALC’s Rose Theater featuring special guests and some serious swing. I wish I was there acknowledging the accomplishment.
Here's a preview of our second book for Candlewick Press, our first book, Jazz ABZ is still in print, (turns out kids love books with Coleman Hawkins in them.) The new book is a picture book for young readers about sounds titled Squeak, Rumble, Whomp Whomp Whomp! We're trying to get it finished while we're still on this earth. It's scheduled for Fall 2012.
New Orleans 2011
posted: May 12, 2011
I was recently in New Orleans and I spent part of an afternoon roaming around checking out the progress of the recovering city. I was down there about ten months after Katrina and it seemed then like nothing was going well. You could feel the effects of the disaster in every part of town, and especially in the Lower 9th Ward, the neighborhood that took the hardest beating from the failed levees. On this trip, I saw some signs of optimism in the face of adversity. There’s new homes being built in the 9th Ward by Make It Right and Common Ground and there’s some wonderful new houses sitting on the spots that I saw completely wiped out after Katrina.
For me, every visit to New Orleans is too short and I always meet new people that make the city the most soulful in the country. If you want to see what’s going on, and how things are looking right now in the Crescent City, you should check out L. Kasimu Harris’ website.
Jazz Stamp in New Orleans
posted: March 31, 2011
The USPS held a First Day of Issue ceremony for the Jazz Commemorative Stamp in New Orleans on Saturday. It was an honor to be asked to design this historic stamp to pay tribute to jazz music and a double honor to attend the ceremony in the Crescent City. In attendance were Guy Cottrell, chief postal inspector, Nancy Marinovic. president of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Jeffery Taylor, manager of the Louisiana District Postal Service and Thurgood Marshall Jr.. vice-chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors. We were in the good hands of the Treme Brass Band, who played with the feeling that only bands from New Orleans posses. Adding to the honor, the legendary New Orleans musician Deacon John, and the heart and soul of the HBO show Treme, Wendell Pierce came out and everyone involved signed posters and First Day Cancellations of the stamp. Art Blakey said “Jazz washes away the dust of every day life” and maybe this stamp can wash away a bit of the dust in our everyday lives. They only printed 50 million stamps, so get down to your post office soon.
posted: April 7, 2010
I’m looking forward to Sunday’s premeire of “Treme,”the new series on HBO from David Simon and a cast that includes John Goodman and the great Wendell Pierce.
We’re in good hands with Simon, the guy behind “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life on the Street.” The show takes place a few months after Katrina when the city of New Orleans was being actively ignored by the federal government. Things haven’t improved much on that front, but the soul of the Crescent City isn’t going to disappear.
I spent some time in New Orleans after Katrina, and made some sketches that I’ve shown here before, here’s a few more.