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Congo Square 2010

Congo Square 2010


“Say Uncle” A Portrait of Lionel Batiste by Terrance Osborne

The traditional New Orleans marching band is a joy to behold – and a precious source of renewal. In the land of the second line, the man who owns the beat is king, or as is more important in New Orleans’ familial reality: Uncle. “Uncle Lionel” Batiste was born in the Treme neighborhood in 1931 in a house where Armstrong Park now exists. He has been marking time on a bass drum since he first gave the Square Deal Social & Pleasure Club band its pulse at age 11. Before settling in as bass drummer, vocalist and assistant leader (to snare-man Benny Jones, Jr.) for the Treme Brass Band in the early 1990’s, he kept time with his homemade gear for the likes of the Olympia, Tuxedo and Eureka Brass Bands. When he’s touring clubs, his sartorial splendor reflects the full embrace of a beautiful life, down to a pocket square (covering his ever-present kazoo) cut from the back of his tie so they match – a trick he passed along to his trumpet-wielding “nephew” Kermit Ruffins (Congo Square 2008.) And never one to miss an opportunity to pun, when asked why he wears his watch below his knuckles instead of on his wrist, replies, “I always have time on my hands.” That detail, plus the infectious joy and inspirational grace that Lionel Batiste personifies, are fully on display in “Say Uncle.”

Making the soul of New Orleans manifest on paper takes an artist steeped in its culture. But an especially intimate drive motivates this particular work: Terrance Osborne is also a product of the Treme, emerging from there a spectacular draughtsman and colorist. He went on to build a large and passionate collector base for his work. His intuitive sense of color, light and form make this poster a luminous modern classic; an audible visual stereo companion to his triumphant 2007 Congo Square poster portrait of Rebirth’s tuba master, Philip Frazier. With this print, Osborne turns that singular exemplar into the first installment in what promises to become an unparalleled second line series depicting the greats who occupy each position in the uniquely New Orleans brass band. By making the background of this new poster a continuum of the first one, Osborne begins unrolling a matchless New Orleans neighborhood panorama. This second installment in The Congo Square Parade series thus begins a legacy of imagery as vibrant as the music that inspired it.

Congo Square is part of the New Orleans Jazz Festival. It is a living celebration of the African-Caribbean culture at the root of much of America’s art and music.


5,000 Numbered prints on archival paper, 23” x 35”,
1,500 Artist-signed & numbered prints on 100% rag paper, 24” x 36”,
750 Double-signed (Osborne & Batiste) & numbered on 100% rag paper, 25” x 38”.

Posters originally sold for $69 (unsigned), $239 (artist-signed), $329 (double signed).

Poster ©2010 art4now inc.® N.O.J.& H.F., Inc.

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