This year's Official Festivals Acadiens et Créoles Pin and Poster Artist is Vermilion Parish native Randall LaBry.
A teacher in Lafayette Parish School System's Talented Visual Arts Program, LaBry has been drawing and painting the people and places of South Louisiana since the late 1970s. Having grown up in Vermilion Parish, LaBry has something in common with this year's honoree Caesar Vincent. When it was suggested he portray the Cajun folk musician on horseback coming down a country lane, LaBry drove the backroads around Leroy, Meaux and his hometown of Kaplan in search of the right spot. The lane he eventually found was halfway between the birthplaces of his parents.
LaBry's original art for the 2018 poster is simple but striking. Oak trees in varying shades of green provide a leafy backdrop for the lone figure of Vincent riding his horse. Vincent, who died in 1970 at the age of 87, never owned a car. He traveled around the area of Leroy mostly on horseback or foot. After the opening stanza of Vincent's iconic song "Travailler, c'est trop dur … " are the lines: Je prends ma vieille bride et j’attrape mon vieux cheval Je prends ma vieille selle et je selle mon vieux cheval Je monte sur mon cheval et je prends mon violon Je prends mon archet et je joue ma vieille valse They translate in English to: I take my old bridal and I catch my old horse I take my old saddle and I saddle my old horse I mount my horse and I take my violin I take my bow and I play my old waltz LaBry painted in gouache on site in the afternoon sun but worked on the lone rider figure and horse in his studio. He viewed old photos to help him imagine Vincent wearing work khakis and a cowboy hat, and it's that figure that carries over into the 2018 pin design. "Sometimes I have trouble with imagining the physical details of how things look," he says. "When I'm drawing or painting on site, that's when I really see it.
The prairie fading off into the deep, deep distance is one of the qualities I liked about this site." LaBry received his B.A. in fine art and painting at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1971 and an M.F.A. in Filmmaking from New York University in 1976. He served as production designer on the movie “Belizaire the Cajun” in 1986 and art director on the film “Dirty Rice” in 1996. While LaBry has exhibited and published his artwork and photography in Louisiana, France and Canada—with a photo published in Philip Glass's memoir Words Without Music and in Smithsonian magazine—his last solo exhibition was in 2016 at the Musée de Kaplan.
His 2018 poster design will offer only 100 signed copies and represent a rare chance to own an important piece of South Louisiana art and musical history. LaBry sometimes draws Festivals musicians during their performances. He prefers the smaller stages and especially the traditional performers. Look for him at the Heritage Stage or inside the air-conditioned Atelier.
The 2018 Pin and Poster will be unveiled on Sept 7 at the A. Hays Town Building at the University Art Museum from 6-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.