Common SEEN

A Photography Exhibition curated by Neil Johnson

August 16 - September 16               

Photography included in the Exhibition is by Neil Johnson, Nadine Charity, Dawn M. Cook, Julia DeLeon, Byron Gates Jr., Derek Groves, James E. Groves, Ondrea Hall, Casey Jones, Bill Laird, Lynn Laird, Jasmin Trujillo, Jose Raul Trujillo and Kathryn Usher.

"We drive through a part of our city and we see things. We walk through the same area and see so much more. We walk through the same area purposefully with a camera and we see minute details.  Everyone sees the world through different lenses, different eyes. Vive la difference! This group of photographers thoroughly enjoyed the “photo safari” on May 5, 2012. We met in the pre-dawn light and then spread out to discover and capture images within the boundaries of Shreveport Common. These fleeting images, many depicting neglect and ruin, others presenting beauty here and there, will never be seen again. The Shreveport Common of May 2012 will be totally unrecognizable in a few short years when Shreveport Common truly enters into its own. But these images will remain as tangible memory.  The scenes will disappear and yet will have been captured for posterity by these discerning eyes pressed to viewfinders. It is important to capture the present—for the future. Especially when change is coming, seemingly as fast as the sun rose that morning in May. It takes vision to plan and build a Shreveport Common. It takes vision to look forward—and sometimes backward. Viewers of these images in the future will surely appreciate their present more with the help of images of their past."  - NEIL JOHNSON

"In the trying times of the Great Depression the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and other agencies put artists to work writing, painting, sculpting, designing, and photographing all over the United States.  Beginning in 1936, these artists were charged to enhance, describe, and document our nation in one of its most critical hours: after a great financial crisis, but, they hoped, just before a great resurgence of prosperity.  Art was an essential part of the preserving the historical record, but also an essential element in raising the people up out of the economic and social malaise that challenged Americans at every level.  The work these artists accomplished stands as some of the best, American art every produced, and it still inspires us today from courthouses, post offices, parks, bridges, books, and in countless other sources.  No art form had more impact that the work of the visionary photographers of that era--Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Dorothea Lange, and Berenice Abbott to name only a few. Their artistic legacy is among the greatest of the 20th century.   How appropriate, then, for these talented photographers of Shreveport to initiate a creative record of Shreveport Common as it begins its transition from a blighted present to a bright future. This oldest “new” neighborhood in town is about to undergo a dramatic transformation that will change the face of the city.  Presented here in “Common Seen” is a diverse, artistic document of where this neighborhood is today.  These very modern and often poignant scenes tell unique “before” stories discovered by each artist.  What might you find while walking through the vacant concrete lots and abandoned buildings if you employ your own “photo eye”?  The revitalization has already begun, with artists and art-lovers at the helm.  We are at the beginning of a grand creative experience and invite you to bring your artistic gifts and participate with us."  - GREGORY FREE, Historic Preservationist