The public is invited to a 2 p.m., Sunday, June 11 opening reception at the NUNU Arts & Culture Collective that introduces the black and white photographic work of Johnna Rena Guillory and featuring the legendary Fred's Lounge in Mamou.
On exhibit are images taken over an 18-month period and selected as a means to tell the story of the culture it continues to promote. Fred's "is part of the Cajun culture that I believe is slowly dying out," Guillory states. "There is no other place like it. They play only live Cajun French music every Saturday morning, and it is aired on AM 1050 KVPI by remote broadcast from Fred's. It is truly an amazing experience."
Fred's, which is only open on Saturday mornings and on Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras, has been waltzing and two-stepping live since 1962. It is authentic "Cajun." In 2012, it was selected by Esquire Magazine as one of America's Best Bars.
Guillory, who is a fine arts documentary photographer and talented arts teacher in Evangeline Parish, is also both a native and resident of Mamou. This body of work on exhibit, and resulting book, are the products of a shift in focus, she explains. "I went to Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in 2014 to develop a photography project working with Elizabeth Krist from National Geographic, Norman Mauskopf, a documentary photographer, as well as Henry Horenstein," author of "Shoot What You Love." She came away with a completed project and the idea, "photograph things I see every day. I live within a mile of Fred's, so I began there, and I thank Henry Horenstein for pointing me in that direction."
Images selected for the exhibit and those within the book, "focus on the Cajun French language as well as the intermingling of English in the culture. If a viewer looks closely even the tattoos on the people are part Cajun French and part English like the signs and t-shirts. I want my images to tell the story. I want to create fine art documentary photographs especially of this culture because I am connected to it, and I believe it deserves to be documented, and shown in a respectful way.
"Fred's is my first photography book," Guillory adds. "I had so many images (more than 1,000) and they have a story that needed to be told. Other photographers have come to Fred's over the years, but no one had ever devoted this much time to just Fred's. This is the first book on just "Fred's."
Copies of Guillory's book "Fred's" are available for purchase at Bouki Book's, the in-house book gallery at the NUNU Arts & Culture Collective. Guillory will be on hand to sign copies during the Sunday, June 11, reception.