Jazz Fest Poster a nod to New Orleans legend

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Jazz Fest poster is the art that brings the essence of the fest into your home, with colors that capture the sound and subjects that embody the spirit - just like this year's poster featuring Fats Domino, painted by artist Terrance Osborne.

"Fats and I shared the same dentist. I was going in and I would see him coming out. That was the only time I ever met him, but now I get the honor to paint a scene of the legendary Fats Domino, the guy who is pretty much the father of rock and roll," Osborne said.

Years ago, Osborne knew he wanted to be a part of the iconic Jazz Fest poster, so he tried to reach out to the folks at Jazz Fest multiple times. But each time, he never heard anything back.

"I submitted and submitted a bunch of times. My wife and I got together, put proposals together, tried to get the poster initially, but the year that we didn't submit, Jazz Fest called," Osborne said.

Bud Brimberg is the father of the Jazz Fest poster. He said he was watching Osborne and tapped him first for a Congo Square poster.

"I just sort of keep my eye open for work, so the fact that he was putting his work in front of me is really great, but I actually went for him for a whole different approach. What I saw in his early work was that this guy had a sense of color like no other, and what I learned the first time I've interacted with him was that he could paint like very few. He has a sense of contrast between the primaries and secondaries and how to make shapes using color. That's an intuitive thing," Brimberg said.

Brimberg first released the Jazz Fest poster in 1975 as a school project out of Tulane. He took a gamble and begged Jazz Fest Producer Quint Davis to give him a shot on what Jazz Fest said would become one of the most collected posters in the world.

"I knew an artist at school and asked him if I could do it and he said, 'I already got a fest poster and I have a festival to put on so get out of here.' And I said, 'I tell you what - I'll pay off gross first dollar. I could lose money you'll make money no matter what.' He said, 'Deal! Now get out of here I've got a festival to put together.' And that's how it started," Brimberg said.

Now the poster is in it's 43rd year and has more than half-a-million copies hanging on walls across the globe. This year's is sure to be another hit. It's Osborne's fifth poster following his images of Rebirth Brass Band, Uncle Lionel from Treme Brass Band, the Preservation Jazz Hall, and the wildly popular Trombone Shorty poster from 2012, which has a connection to this year's Fats poster.

"The Trombone Shorty one actually connects to this year's poster with the red house in the middle. The red house on the right side of the Shorty poster connects to the red house on the left side of the Fats Domino poster to make it a pair. So if you got one, you got to get the other," Osborne said.

There are a few other secrets in the poster, like Fats' '59 Caddy parked in the street, the manhole cover with a nod to the city's tricentennial, and of course red beans in the window.

"What Fats would do is on Sunday he loved watching the game, the Saints game, so he'd invite some of his neighbors over - family, friends - cook red beans and rice, and watch the Saints game with everybody. That was one of his favorite things to do, so I had to put that in there," Osborne said.

It's a tribute to a man who adored New Orleans and left so much of himself in the fabric of the city. It's one reason Brimberg thinks it won't last long at Jazz Fest. In fact, he thinks it will add its likeness to the hall of fame of iconic posters of the past.

"This is going to be a special one too. The 2012 and probably this 2018 fall in the league of the 2001 Louis Armstrong Michalopoulos, the 2006 Fats Domino, the Louis Armstrong and Pete Fountain and Al Hirt George Rodrigue's; those come along when the stars align and the artist, subject, that intuition that you can't capture except every once in awhile, and when you see it you step out of the way and say, we're done," Brimberg said.

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