Opening of an exhibition of photographs of the festival by Zack Smith at the New Orleans Jazz Museum


Part musician and photographer, Zack Smith believes the world gets smaller as we celebrate our similarities and connect through our traditions and stories. Smith’s mostly large format film photographs have the ability to bring subject and viewer closer together, and his personalized environments foster privacy. His photographs are exhibited at the New Orleans Jazz Museum in the exhibition Exit on the right of the stage: the portraits of the festival of Zack Smith, opening Friday December 3 at 5.30 p.m.

David Batiste, Ponderosa Stomp, 2013, photo by Zack Smith

These portraits include the ChazFest in the Ninth Ward, the HIP Fest, the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, the Ponderosa Stomp and the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, where he worked with Preservation Hall. The photographs show musicians, music fans, backstage workers and various junkies in quiet moments amid the chaos of the festival.

“I’ve seen Zack Smith in many contexts over the past few decades,” said David Kunian, curator at the Jazz Museum. “These photographs show a mixture of respect and irreverence. They show the people and musicians of a fading past festival world, but also the dynamism of today’s festivals as they hint at the shape of future gatherings.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission of the New Orleans Jazz Museum has evolved into supporting local musicians and culture carriers including the city’s vibrant artistic community. “Zack Smith has documented the scene for over twenty years,” says Greg Lambousy, director of the New Orleans Jazz Museum. “As we look to the future, it’s important to appreciate the people and places that make New Orleans unique. Zack’s photographs capture the sense of freedom that many of us have lost and hope to regain.

Walter "werewolf" Washington and Marva Wright

Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Marva Wright, Voodoo Fest, 2008, photo by Zack Smith

The opening of the exhibition coincided with Sound Collage, an annual event celebrating the intersection of visual arts and music through a mix of musical performances, illuminated installations, digital sculptures and dance.

“We are delighted to see the city of New Orleans recover and begin to prosper,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Preserving and documenting the city’s culture is essential to its survival. We are proud to see the New Orleans Jazz Museum working to educate a new generation of musicians about the city’s rich artistic heritage.

Lightnin 'Lee guitar portrait

Guitar Lightnin ‘Lee, Voodoo Fest 2001, photo by Zack Smith

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is located at 400 Esplanade Avenue. The New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates jazz in its hometown. Through dynamic interactive exhibits, multigenerational educational programming, research facilities and gripping musical performances, the music made famous by New Orleans is explored in all its forms. Partnerships with local, national and international educational institutions allow the New Orleans Jazz Museum to promote a global understanding of jazz as one of the most innovative and historic musical art forms in world history.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jazz Museum has brought much-needed relief to local musicians with its Balcony Concerts, a free weekly series showcasing the music of New Orleans to live and virtual audiences. Visit for more information.


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