Friday, October 31, 2008

Prospect.1 New Orleans opens This Weekend!

On November 1, 2008, Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1], the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States, will open to the public in museums, historic buildings, and found sites throughout New Orleans. Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1] has been conceived in the tradition of the great international biennials, and will showcase new artistic practices as well as an array of programs benefiting the local community. Over the course of its eleven-week run, Prospect.1 New Orleans [P.1] plans to draw international media attention, creative energy, and new economic activity to the city of New Orleans.
Included in this biennial is a painting and jazz funeral tribute to late Preservation Hall banjoist/vocalist Narvin Kimball by Thai artist Navin Rawanchaikul beginning at 2:30pm. The funeral will commence on the steps of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Southall Mortuary (1225 North Rampart Street), follow a parade route in front of Armstrong Park, and end at Preservation Hall. (Music by present and former members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, along with other New Orleans musicians).

Ben Jaffe on Prospect 1/Preservation Hall:
"Earlier this year, I was contacted by Don Marshall, Director of The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation. Sitting in his office were Tyler Russell and Navin Rawanchaikul. Tyler and Navin were in New Orleans doing research for a project they were creating for Prospect 1. ( Navin is a multi media artist from Thailand ( Preparing for their trip to New Orleans, Navin R. googled his name and up came: "Did you mean Narvin Kimball New Orleans?" Narvin Kimball was the original banjoist with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band ( I was very close to Mr. Kimball. I remain in constant contact with his wife, Lillian, who is back living in New Orleans in the home the couple built together in the 1950's. Mr. Kimball performed with my dad, Allan Jaffe, for over 15 years. I began performing with Mr. Kimball in 1993 when I joined the Preservation Hall Band in 1993. Watching Mr. Kimball every night belt out "Closer Walk With Thee" or his trademark, "Georgia On My Mind" was inspirational. He always gave 100%. The crowd always responded with a standing ovation.

Flash back to earlier this year: Don Marshall asked if I could meet with Tyler and Navin. Our impromptu meeting, as many are in New Orleans, took place at Preservation Hall. Tyler and Navin had never been to Preservation Hall and knew very little about it's history and Narvin Kimball. We spent the day talking about Narvin and the Hall. Tyler and Navin also met with Dodie and John Simmons, two old friends of the Kimball's and instrumental figures on the New Orleans music scene. After speaking with Naving and Tyler, the Simmon's brought Navin and Tyler to Mr. Kimball's grave. The following day, I took the Tyler and Navin to meet Mrs. Kimball. En route to Mrs. Kimball's house, we stopped and picked up a baked ham, Mrs. Kimball's favorite. Navin and Tyler spoke with Mrs. Kimball for hours. Somewhere along the way, I suggested having a memorial parade in Mr. Kimball's honor. Mr. Kimball passed away shortly after Katrina ravaged our city. We had a small funeral procession for Mr. Kimball, but not the one he deserved. All of this led to the idea of "Narvin's Party".

The memorial parade was held on November 1st, 2008, All Saints Day. We began on Rampart St at the recently acquired funeral home, now a gallery and community center. The funeral home was purchased by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation and is in the process of being transformed into a gallery space and cultural education center. The band, comprised of members of the Preservation Hall Band, began playing "A Closer Walk With Thee" inside the gallery where 6 paintings dedicated to the life of Mr. Kimball, painted by Navin R. hung. We marched through the hallway, out onto the steps where a curious crowd of onlookers stood by. Awaiting us was a horse drawn hearse. Leading the procession was Navin R arm in arm with Mr. Kimball's daughter, Barbara Kimball. The parade snaked through the French Quarter, past the Armstrong Park Gate, down St. Ann, stopping briefly in front of my child hood house on St. Ann. Through Jackson Square in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, ending in front of Preservation Hall where Navin presented a painting that will hang in the carriageway of Preservation Hall.

I have attended many funerals in my life. My father performed at dozens with the Olympia Brass Band. I can't remember the first funeral I ever attended? There have been so many. This memorial had special meaning because it was for someone who symbolizes so much of what it means to be a New Orleans Musician. Thanks to the efforts of everyone at Prospect 1, particularly Dan Cameron and Yiva Rouse, Mr. Kimball received the dignified send off he deserved."

Ben Jaffe, Creative Director
Preservation Hall

For more on Prospect.1 New Orleans click here

To read New York Times article on Prospect.1 click here

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