'MUSIC & MORTAR' BLENDS TWO PASSIONS


Buddy Guy at the Aztec Theatre, March 6, 2014.

“Music and Mortar” brings together my two favorite subjects to shoot – live music and architecture. Presented by the St. Mary’s University Department of Arts, the official Fotoseptiembre event opens with a free reception open to the public on Sept. 4 from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Louis J. Blume Library.

The 60 images in this exhibit capture a diverse slice of life. ZZ Top, an abandoned trailer park and Diana Ross. San Antonio favorites Flaco Jimenez, Ruben V and Jimmy Spacek. Lyle Lovett, a New Orleans hotel and Gary Clark Jr.  What do they all have in common? They’re all in the show.



I’ve been intrigued by architecture nearly my whole life, particularly if it’s historic. I suppose that comes from growing up in a house built in 1870. Until just a few years ago, that love of shooting architecture was confined to personal photos. Going on guided tours of historic venues was always a test in patience for the poor souls who came with me. Tour guides had to wait for me to catch up because I always had to take “just one more photo.” Yes, I was that person.

I also found myself drawn to those structures and neighborhoods that had seen better days. I found a sense of beauty in their decay. It seemed that when I looked through the lens of my camera, I saw what they once were, not the sad little houses they had become.

Then a few years ago I stumbled into what I consider a jackpot. I met the incredibly dedicated staff of the Office of Historic Preservation as they were planning their first Power of Preservation event, known as the PROM.

The Roosevelt New Orleans, Jan. 13, 2012.

Before I knew it, I was shooting photos of historic buildings all across the city. I was so caught up in the joy of taking the images themselves that I practically forgot how they were going to be used. I will never forget the shock and awe I experienced when I entered the cavernous interior of the first PROM venue – the old Mission Road Power Plant. My photos were hanging around the room on 10-foot banners. I wanted to cry, laugh and scream all at the same time.

Shooting live music was another passion that evolved, an amazing combination of coincidence, fate, opportunity and luck. In 2010, it hit me that I would be retiring in 2020. I mildly panicked when I realized I “only” had 10 years to plan what I would be doing with the rest of my life. I always loved photography, and thought that perhaps I could work that from being just a hobby into something more.

Gary Clark Jr. in the Green Room at Sam's Burger Joint, Sept. 14, 2011.

I had been going to a lot of shows at Sam’s Burger Joint, and while I loved the music, I was disappointed not to see photos of their shows online. I loved reliving the experience.

So I got the bright idea that if I took photos of their shows, maybe the folks at Sam’s would think they were good enough to put online. A musician friend introduced me to one of the owners and the next thing I know I was getting a media pass.

Now, more than 5,000 photos later, I don’t see any end in sight. Several of my photos have been blown up poster size and hang inside Sam’s at the front desk, over the booths and on the back of the building.

Ruben V at the Aztec Theatre, July 12, 2014.

If I was giddy with excitement the first time I saw my PROM photos, I guess I was practically hysterical the first time I saw my photos hanging up at Sam’s. It’s a rush to walk in there even now and see these giant images of Robert Randolph and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and know that I was lucky enough to capture those moments in time.

The gig at Sam’s led to shooting for the San Antonio Blues Society, the Majestic Theatre, freelancing for The Rivard Report, and since January 2014, the Aztec Theatre.

I have a day job, which leaves many people to ask me how I manage to keep up the pace of all the things I do.  While I like my day job a lot, I absolutely LOVE all the cool things I get to do when I get off work – stuff of my choosing. It gives me all the energy I need.


The photos will be on display at the Blume Library through Sept. 25, and can be viewed during regular operating hours: Monday-Thursday, 7:45 a.m. to midnight; Friday, 7:45 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturday, 1-6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. to midnight. Visitor parking is available at the lots along the main entrance of the university, located at 1 Camino Santa Maria. All photos are available for sale.

Tumbleweed Treasures in Broadwater, Nebraska, June 5, 2014.

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