Hibachi with Julie Blackmon

PhotoNOLA was an amazing experience, both personally and professionally.  I was a reviewer for the Portfolio Review for the first time (more on that to come), we pulled off the most dynamic and impressive installation of Lori Vrba’s new collection Piano Farm (way more on that to come), and then I continued my streak (Sally Mann seemed like a fluke, but now its’ officially a streak!) of meeting famous photographers.

In reverse order, I meet Josephine Sacabo for a moment on Saturday night, and she actually knew who I was!  All of the reviewers for the Portfolio Review were invited to her house for dinner on Sunday night, but I had a conflict.

I also met the wondrous, the magical, the ultimate photography dream team, Louviere + Vanessa.  Jeff and Vanessa, as they are known to “lay people”, are so down to earth and wonderful.  I was able to spend a lot of time with Vanessa over the three days in New Orleans, because she graciously offered to help run the portfolio reviews.  She flat out will walk away in sheepish embarrassment if you try to gush about her work (and we all know, I’m a gusher).  But you’ve just got to take it girl.  You’re too brilliant.

"I'll Blow Your House Down" by Louviere + Vanessa

And then there was Julie Blackmon.  When I wrote that, did you see the clouds part and hear angels sing?  Because that just happened.  I found out by chance that she was going to be at PhotoNOLA this weekend, and after three days of crafting my email to her, I hit send.  And despite all of that email crafting, I still sounded like the biggest dork.

Julie’s photograph “Candy” was the first sort of “major” acquisition my husband and I made for our photography collection, and I am in absolute awe of her work.  It speaks to me as a mother, as a woman, as an artist.  And it’s beautiful and has a sense of humor and relishes in life’s (and mothers’) imperfections.

"Candy" by Julie Blackmon

Despite my dorkiness, Julie replied and accepted my lunch invitation, and we met up Saturday afternoon.  She is lovely.  She’s sharp and intuitive and real.  When she ordered that second glass of Chardonnay I knew I had found a kindred spirit.  After a long lunch and a stroll over to A Gallery, we parted ways.  Me, with a little tear in my eye.

But as luck (it’s a streak I tell you!) would have it, we ran into each other again that night and decided to gallery hop together.  A little Magazine Street (We checked out the group show Lisette de Boisblanc’s work was in – look for her solo show at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in March.  She’s a rock star, and we’re lucky to represent her.), a little Julia Street, and then we headed over to the PhotoNOLA Gala.  She was not phased in the slightest when I had to pull out my emergency flip flops and drop my boots off at the hotel on the way.  Footwear is a bitch.

Anyway, we were hungry and early for the gala, so we set out on (newly flip-flopped) foot in search of food.  The gala happened to be in a pretty random (to me at least) part of town, so we were losing hope of finding anything other than fast-food, when like a ray of sun bursting through the clouds, we saw the hibachi/sushi restaurant.  Right next to the Office Depot.  With the smell of Japanese stir-fry seeping into our hair, “Wind Beneath My Wings” playing on the radio, and 19-year-old girls in stripper heels, tight dresses and hair shellacked high and large sipping white zinfandel at the bar, Julie Blackmon and I dined.  It was magical.

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