5/13/15 – The Three P’s of My Louisiana Muse – My Journey to Pierre Part, Pilette, and Poverty Point to photograph more Louisiana Artists!

When Jazz Fest pops up on the schedule, I know I am in for a long ride. As one of 3 staff photographers for the festival that attracts over 460,000+ fans and showcases hundreds of acts, I have my hands full for 7 days. My duties are to cover 4 stages of music non-stop. As always, I find the moments that tell the story of our city's wonderful music, food, fun and culture. But as the dust settled on another glorious year at the Fairgrounds, I heard another story waiting to be told.

©2015 Zack Smith Photography - "Love is in the Air - Jazz Fest 2015"

On Tuesday I packed up my 4x5, Hasselblad, and my Polaroid SX-70 and hit the road to what I was calling “The 3 P’s of MLM” – meaning that I had stops in Pierre Part, Pilette, and Poverty Point to document 4 new artists in the “My Louisiana Muse” photography project.

(A little exciting side note here – in the recent weeks The Jazz and Heritage Foundation Gallery has agreed to show the finished project of My Louisiana Muse at their Gallery headquarters in New Orleans for an opening on September 12th. Stay tuned!)


The First P: Adam Morales – “The Driftwood Man” – Pierre Part, LA

Adam Morales, or better known to his adoning fans and multiple media outlets as “The Driftwood Man”, has lived in the same small wooden house since birth. His house sits between the picturesque Lake Verret to the front, and a deep tupelo cypress swamp to the back. Adam is perched in between miles, and miles, of cypress driftwood – and that’s only the wood he has picked out by hand. I have been visiting Adam for about 5 or 6 years bringing clients to his house and property for photo shoots, and to give me an excuse to sit down and shoot the shit. I feel Adam is one of the most genuine and raw artists I have ever met. His is honest about his art and makes his creations for no other reason than for the enjoyment of the public. Adam has created a museum of his home, and his creativity is brimming with the excitement of a child who has just discovered how wild and free life can be.


                                             

                                                 

                                    
Over the last few decades, Adam has collected hundreds of thousands of cypress driftwood pieces, and has carefully labeled and organized them in rows broken down by size and price. As you look closer, you notice that each piece of wood has its own personality and its own story. Some even have plastic eyes Adam puts on them if the inspiration suits him. When doing this, the once lost piece of ancient wood takes on the personality of an owl, a fish, even a turtle. But even more majestic are his sculptural homages to freedom, religion, and folklore that cover his front yard.


Painstaking detail is seen when one looks closer at Adam’s version of The Statue of Liberty, The 10 Commandments, a patriotic Bald Eagle, and his many versions of the Loup Garou also known as the Cajun Werewolf.

“I’ve always seen images. I didn’t think too much about it, but then I started bringing some of these images home. My first project was the Lock Ness Monster. After that, when I started to pay attention to it, I started to see them all over and I thank God for that. All my friends in the swamp, all they see is junk. When I point it out to them, they are amazed” says Adam Morales.


With no formal art or sculpture training, Adam takes his inspiration from nature and from God. He says that Mother Nature is the original carver of the swamp, and that he then is the one to find it’s handiwork. Adam truly has a gift to see a project at it’s end result when boating around in the Atchafalaya Swamp, the origin of his driftwood pieces.

As we walk out of his kitchen Adam goes into “tour guide” mode as he does when families and children visit him from all over the world. He walks to the side of his house and in his thick Cajun accent tells me the story of how he found three pieces of driftwood that make up a sword, shield, and a hat. He puts them all on, and smiles. Every time I leave Pierre Part and my head is still echoing Adam’s stories in his thick Cajun drawl I feel elated. It is so uplifting to know someone who makes art not for money, notoriety, or even for himself. A self taught artist, he is a listener and a doer. Nature speaks to Adam Morales. Adam then shares with the world.

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The Second P: Pilette, LA with The Michots...