Exhibition Dates: August 5 – September 23, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 5 from 6–9 pm, in conjunction with White Linen Night
Gallery Location: 434 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am–5 pm
Contact Info: 504.522.1999; arthurrogergallery.com
The Arthur Roger Gallery is pleased to present R.I.P. Bruce A. Davenport, Jr. | Artwork by Dapper Bruce Lafitte. The exhibition will be on view at Arthur Roger@434, located at 434 Julia Street, from August 5 – September 23, 2017. The gallery will host an opening, with the artist in attendance, on Saturday, August 5 from 6-9pm, in conjunction with White Linen Night.
According to jottings in his artwork, Dapper Bruce Lafitte used to be a “furniture delivery guy,” a “trash hauler” and “even tried to be a minister.” He also used to be called “Bruce Davenport, Jr.,” the name under which he had two solo exhibitions with the gallery. Now, he says, “respect is calling me ‘Dapper Bruce Lafitte’. Fear is calling me by that slave name so no need to fear me just love me like my grandparents did.”
It was under the care of his grandparents that the artist began to draw at the age of five as a means to entertain himself and document the world around him. Following Hurricane Katrina and the devastation to New Orleans and its schools, his drawings began to commemorate the unique junior and high school marching band culture that was integral to the city. These works gained notoriety through exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Center and the New Orleans Museum of Art, as part of the Prospect Biennial.
Although the subject matter has varied over the years – from marching bands to prizefighter Muhammed Ali in the ring – the artist’s style remains instantly recognizable. In this, the artist’s third exhibition with the gallery, the colorful drawings focus mainly on the city of New Orleans, and contain references to local people, schools, businesses, parks and institutions. As always, there are mentions and remembrances, callouts and criticisms scattered throughout.
In addition to the organized vertical and horizontal grids often present in the artist’s work, we also see the recognizable curves of New Orleans’ streets from an aerial perspective. Get Out Colored People shows the destruction of the Lafitte Housing Projects where the artist grew up. White cloud shapes decry “I don’t feel safe when the cops around,” “No love in the courthouse,” and “Down with HANO.” The colorful and quilt-like My Daddy Didn’t Love Me is Louisiana-themed. It portrays ‘patches’ with the state flag, capital building, highway signs, parish entry signs, and area codes all centered around the Louisiana “boot,” and features a self-portrait in the center. The artist worked with Dieu Donné Paper Mill to create handmade, pressed paper for the ten large-scale works in this exhibition.
Dapper Bruce Lafitte was born in New Orleans in 1972 and grew up in the Lafitte Housing Projects in the 6th Ward. He has exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally, notably in the Prospect Biennial, New Orleans; and in solo shows at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS; Vacant Gallery, Tokyo; Louis B. James Gallery, NY; and Atlanta Contemporary. His work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Bennetton Family and Diego Cortez, and has appeared in The New York Times and Harper’s, among others. In 2009 he was a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. He now lives and works in the Lower 9th Ward.