Monday, December 13, 2010

Lori Vrba at PhotoNOLA

Chapel Hill photographer Lori Vrba staged a major coup in New Orleans at the recently-past PhotoNOLA -- a one-day show of her work in a New Orleans house still under reconstruction after the ravages of Hurricane Fran. Assisted by Atlanta Gallery owner Jennifer Schwartz and a bunch of others, she found the house, printed the work, hung and lighted the show, and drew a crowd from folks attending PhotoNOLA.

And it was all over in one night. 

The images are from her Piano Farm portfolio. The work, and the event, certainly delighted David Bram over on the Fraction Magazine blog.  He says, this was "one of the best shows going on in New Orleans."

"I'm not sure," David writes, "I've ever been to a photography show before where the surroundings were so perfect.  The house that, well, housed the show was in the middle of restoration with loads of exposed walls and ceilings and a slightly creepy feeling.  Had I been in the house alone, with the dim lighting, creaky floors and somewhat haunting photographs, I'd probably be a bit on edge.  It was kind of like a haunted New Orleans house. In the space, the photographs really fit the environment.  I loved it."

Greg Wakabayashi, the art director of Welcome Books, who was also a portfolio reviewer at PhotoNOLA, made it to Lori's show as well. He says, "It was a one-of-a-kind installation, any description of which I might offer would not do it justice. The work was installed on the first floor of the partially restored historic Louise Arsene Vitry House in the legendary Treme neighborhood and it made me feel like I was in something like Grey Gardens. Lori is a very talented photographer and printer. She is all traditional all the way…from film to beautifully executed toned gelatin silver prints. The creativity of the installation was perfect for her work and a true reflection of her artistry and personality."

On the basis of that kind of celebration, Jennifer Schwartz  is surely right that it was "a light your pants on fire blow-out event that people would be buzzing about so loudly the buzzing would become a roar."  Anyway, Jennifer supplies on HER blog a photograph of Lori in her space before the hoards descended.

And here is the show in full swing.

And you can see the work here. And now we've all been there, too. Amazing the sense of presence the web can provide.

Vrba was born in Texas and received her education in photography at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Her images are made with an old Hasselblad. She does her own darkroom work, and fine work it is, indeed. And she clearly has profound insight into how to stage an event.

Here is Jennifer Schwartz' blog about a visit to her studio:

Lori is definitely a Southern Photographer We'll Watch Out For.


  1. Love this posting, Jim, and am happy to have discovered your fantastic site. Lori's work is it.Totality and heart wrapped in a pretty bow.
    Wish I could have experienced that one night happening. It looks a night of photographic theatre.Very cool.

  2. Thank you Diana. Hope you will become a follower. But its John, not Jim, though Jim is a perfectly fine name. All best, JNW