Michael Meads in Lakeview, New Orleans 5/2005all reproduction rights reserved William Greiner
Michael Meads , an Alabama born artist, ended up in New Orleans. I got to know Michael by a strange circuitous route via a color printer who was making prints for us both. In any case, I found Michael to be an extremely talented artist with a most wicked sense of humor to match! We would, ever so often , meet up for drinks, tell a few stories , laughing about everything and everyone.
Michael's home was very close to the 17th street canal levee, which broke and helped to flood New Orleans. Michael's house was on the wrong side of the canal and he lost most all of his archives. He is starting over.
We just caught up with each other again , here are some poignant thoughts of his about a city we both love and miss!
The show must go on.
It is one thing to go see the circus when it comes to town, but it is a totally different experience when you choose to live in the middle of the circus.
When I was a boy I remember my father listening to the radio broadcasts of a hellfire and brimstone Baptist minister preaching from Bourbon Street. Even at that young age I knew there was something about New Orleans that was enticingly forbidden as my father would warn me repeatedly "never go to that wicked city." Over time my curiosity about the Crescent City became greater and greater.
I moved to New Orleans on the first day of hurricane season in 1998. It was miserably hot, even for June, and the realtor who had taken care of so many details of the move was waiting at the house with beer and po-boys. I was home.
New Orleans is a tough town. Visiting New Orleans as a tourist is nothing like living there. New Orleans has never embraced change and if you move there you must be willing to accommodate her, and not the other way around.
I have had my highest highs and my lowest lows in New Orleans, and I would rather have had my worst day there than my best day anywhere else. She gets under your skin, into your system, and very quickly you are seduced by her exotic charms.
The entire collection of my New Orleans images came within two inches of rising flood waters from being completely destroyed. Much of Eastaboga did not survive. The images in the New Orleans collection represent a very personal record of a time and a place. I made these photographs not as a detached observer but as an active participant immersed in the drama of life in this legendary city.
This is my love letter to the only place I ever wanted to live, the only place that made me feel welcomed, that embraced me, made me feel normal. I pray for her eventual deliverance from the monumental hardships she faces, I pray for the lives lost there and for the those who remain, who stubbornly refuse to give in, give up.
Michael Meads www.michaelmeads.com
I never had any intention of leaving New Orleans, and I know that one day I will once again find myself gratefully back in her sticky embrace, blissfully unaware of the outside world.