Fraser / Art exhibit: Look into the face of New Orleans |

Fraser / Art exhibit: Look into the face of New Orleans

Through his camera lens, local photographer Art Ferrari has captured the spirit of New Orleans and the hope of its people. For the month of March, he is sharing the experience through his very first photography exhibit, titled “The Big Un-Easy: New Orleans 2007, a photographic essay by Art Ferrari.”

When he came to Grand County, Ferrari said he wanted to leave the corporate world and thought Winter Park would be a good place “to chill out for a couple of months.” He worked as a lift operator, a raft guide, got into photography and then got a job in the Information Technology department at the Winter Park Ski Area.

“Now, 15 years later, I am a full-time photographer,” he said.

His first summer here, Ferrari worked part-time for PhotoManiacs. He started looking at photos by the various Colorado photographers owner Melanie Stephens displayed in the gallery “and I thought ‘I could do that’.” He learned most of his skills by reading books, talking to other photographers and “by just plain shooting a lot of pictures,” he said.

After shooting for about two years, he realized he was good at capturing people and moments on film and Stephens asked him to shoot weddings for the company.

As of last June, Ferrari took on photography as a full-time career, mostly shooting weddings, events and architecture.

He was able to step away from his business analyst job and “plunge into my photography business.”

When he’s not behind the camera, Ferrari can be found volunteering on the board of the Grand County Blues Society as its treasurer and, “just for fun,” he can also still be found working as a ski lift operator one day a week, “back to my roots, so to speak.”

Grand County is a great place to be an artist, he said, because residents and visitors seem to really embrace and support the local artists.

Though he’s not a musician himself, Ferrari finds artistic inspiration from music – blues and jazz.

“I don’t really play music unless you count my harmonica playing when I am alone, but blues and jazz really seem to move me,” he said. His love for New Orleans is rooted in the music of the area. “I think that is why I had the need to do something photographically about the aftermath of Katrina.”

This past fall, Ferrari made a four-week trip through the devastated neighborhoods of the city, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and documenting the progress citizens and volunteers have made since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

He wanted to help the people of New Orleans, but didn’t want to make it just a photographic effort, so he spent two weeks helping build homes from the ground up with Habitat. He also wanted to have fun (and got to catch Waylon Tibedaux and Bryan Lee perform in Bourbon Street clubs) and “help out the people down there trying to get their life back together.”

He kept an image in his head of friends coming to the library to see his work, even though he hadn’t yet asked the library about the opportunity. He knew he wanted to do something different with the photographs, so he decided to grab a bunch of wood from a flooded house (with permission) for his photo frames.

Until this New Orleans show came about, Ferrari said he hadn’t really thought about himself as an artist.

“I tend to think my photography is more journalistic, not necessarily artistic,” he said.

He hopes his photos inspire others to go down to New Orleans and help build homes, too.

“These folks have felt abandoned and they really appreciate anyone that is helping out,” he said. “Many people think that things must be fixed by now, but that just isn’t true. These folks will be putting their lives back together for the next five to 10 years at the rate things are going.”

Half of the proceeds from the sale of Ferrari photographs on display go to benefit Habitat for Humanity, the other half to pay expenses of the trip and exhibit.

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