Paintings and Drawings, 2017-2018

"Louisiana Living", 2016

"Made In Louisiana", 2012

"Signs of the City", 2009

Paintings and Drawings, 2004-2007

Shirley Rabe Masinter

I have been creating photo realist works for years, and the topography and culture of New Orleans has provided me with a large reservoir of subject matter. Sometimes my works are suffused by a sense of nostalgia and remembrances; sometimes my images are more disturbing and gritty. I have tried in my work to create a vision and a style that tells of my city: its beauty, its mystery, its fascination with the celebration of life and death. In the words of Nancy Friedman*, "It's as sophisticated as dinner at Antoine's and as impudent as a drive-through daiquiri stand."

Since 1990, I have mainly been doing artworks based on New Orleans's inner city and its cemeteries. In these more recent city scenes of New Orleans, I focus on a city in transition with many controversial and dynamic social forces at play. These works are not literal "slices of life" captured at random on the city streets; instead, each is a synthesis or construction that gives my representation of the places depicted.I've always enjoyed drawing, particularly in graphite or colored pencil on paper. Before I had a camera, throughout the 70's and 80's, I would work from pencil renderings done on site. Even now, after taking a series of photographs, I usually return to a site several times when a work is in progress, to observe or do quick pencil studies of details or shadow play. I then use these as a reference in the studio.

Now I keep my camera handy when collecting information for my paintings. If I'm driving down a street and see an interesting person or building, I simply stop and snap a picture.I am fascinated by the older walls of the city structures: the aging, peeling and rusting that is very much a result of our humid and steamy climate, and the southern light falling on older buildings, creating shadows that are haunting and mysterious. I love the layers of torn posters piled over one another on a city post or wall, creating in itself an artwork from the aging advertising. I like to combine the somewhat idealized images of advertising with a dilapidated building or wall; to show a shiny new poster of a contemporary political figure contrasted with a fragment of graffiti, or aging "naive" commercial artwork.

The people depicted in my work are real people. Many model for me on the street or in the studio. Some are family members, some are friends, some are simply strangers that I encounter on the street and photograph with or without their knowledge. I am not interested in depicting stereotypes of people; I always strive to invest the people in my city scenes with dignity, power, and true realism.