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Congo Square 2012
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Congo Square 2012


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Jazz In Tent: A Portrait of Shamarr Allen

By Carl Crawford

Shamarr Allen is a dreadlocked phenom – A music-writing singing powerhouse with a blazing trumpet. He ranges over trad jazz, pop, rock, funk, rap and hip-hop as easily as a half-track conquers the landscape. After perfecting his chops as a member of the Hot 8 and ReBirth Brass bands, he has risen to national prominence in the past two years, touring with Willie Nelson, doing sessions with Ray Price, Leon Russell and R.E.M., and playing for President Obama. His Saints anthem with Dee-1, Bring ‘Em to the Dome, racked up over a half million YouTube hits - the 21st century metric for measuring a cultural breakout. Allen is keeping the New Orleans trumpet tradition alive as he lends it a newly relevant voice wrapped in an energetic body.

When conjuring the first limited-edition silk-screened poster for the 1975 Jazz Fest, the scruffy band of poster-loving hippies at the helm of ProCreations Publishing Company (art4now’s predecessor) looked back to the first poster artists who developed this by-then nearly forgotten art, and forward to the work of Jacob Lawrence to grasp modern form and color, as well as to Romare Bearden, the master of 20th century collage. These influences informed the early posters. Regrettably, neither of these progenitors created a poster in the series. Art4now assumed the opportunity to work with pioneers of highly expressive cultural painting and collage had passed with them, and was certain that their art could not be taken further.

Enter Carl Crawford, a young artist from Columbia, South Carolina, who plows the art fair circuit, including exhibiting annually at Congo Square at the Jazz Fest where he garnered Best in Show and Most Unique art awards in 2010 and 2011, respectively. He has forged a modern synthesis of Lawrence and Bearden that he calls “Collage Illusion.” His work, inspired by the African-American experience, is created by hand cutting subtly shaded color slivers from magazines and painstakingly gluing them to glass to compose an image. From a distance the resulting works look lushly painted. On closer inspection they are revealed as intricate collages of breathtakingly nuanced detail.

In this, his first poster commission, Crawford envisions Shamarr Allen in traditional mode, playing where he first came to prominence in the Jazz Tent at the Fair Grounds. Crawford’s earth-toned overhead tent palette offsets the blues of the band behind Allen, with Allen intensely realized in saturated primary colors. The magic of his collage technique is not lost in this magnificent silk-screen. Our master printmakers have preserved the subtle shadings of the original, breaking down the boundaries between the mediums and crafting an original stunning work of art in its own right.

We may have missed his predecessors, but Crawford takes their collage, color and form techniques to such a revelatory level, with bravado beyond even the pioneers, that he becomes one himself. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity of having this newly discovered trailblazer craft this poster. You won’t want to miss it either.

Editions:

3,000 Numbered prints on archival paper, 23” x 34”
500 Artist-signed & numbered prints on 100% rag paper, 24” x 35”
350 Artist signed and pencil remarqued, signed by Shamarr Allen & numbered Remarque prints on 100% rag paper, 25” x 37”
100 Artist-overpainted and signed, signed by Shamarr Allen & numbered C-Marque canvas screen prints, suitable for stretching, 26” x 40”

Actual poster and specifications may vary slightly.
Poster originally sold for $69 (Unsigned), $179 (Signed), $329 (ReMarque), $595 (C-Marque)

Image ©2012 art4now inc. Text ©2012 ProCreations Publishing Company

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