The Dapper Comes to the Walkers

The Dapper Comes to the Walkers

May 19, 2016 – August 7, 2016

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May 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm
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May 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Dapper Bruce LaFitte, formerly Bruce Davenport, Jr. was born in 1972 and grew up in the Lafitte Housing Projects in the 6th Ward. With the encouragement of his grandparents who raised him, he began to draw at the age of five as a means to entertain himself and document the world around him. Following Hurricane Katrina and the devastation to New Orleans and its schools, LaFitte felt compelled to honor the past glory of this unique band culture and celebrate those who are able to continue it. In his words, “The marching bands are a passion to me. I love the history and culture… My work serves as an illustrative reminder of an activity that not only encourages creative thought processing but also engages youth with the community and with each other. Using photographic documentation of these bands in action, I recreate their vibrant pageantry… hopefully leaving behind a sacred reminder of a vibrant part of my hometown’s identity.” LaFitte’s vivid color marker drawings provide detailed reenactments – the bands in precise number and formation and the multitude of spectators surrounding them.

Atlanta Contemporary: Interview with Dapper Bruce LaFitte

Half Time Is Game Time

# (Drumroll) #

 (Man Over P.A.)

 Deshawn Martin.

 - Delphine Matthews.

 - (Woman) Yeah, girl!

 - Calvin Mays.

 - # (Band: "Pomp And Circumstance") #

 Jose Mendoza.

 Bonita Mercado.

 Curtis Meredith.

 Renee Meyan.

 Tyrone Middleton.

 Sally Millburn.

 Devon Miles.

 (Woman)

 Yea, Devon!

 Whoo!

 (Laughs)

 - # (Ends) #

 - As our national championship band...

 led by director Jim Anderson...

 plays a final song

 with our senior musicians...

 I'd like to remind you all that no matter

 what obstacles life may bring...

 - always remember:

 - (Mouthing Words)

 you can fly.

 # (Slow Tempo) #

 # (Drummers Increase Tempo) #

 (Mouthing Words)

 (Mouthing Words)

 # (Band Increases Tempo) #

 (Audience Cheering)

 (Shouting)

 - (Camera Shutter Clicks)

 - Okay.

 Boy, can you ever

 just take a picture?

 - All right, all right.

 - Come on now. All right.

 You ready?

 (Laughing)

 - Hey, yo, that was tight, son.

 - Good luck, then. All right?

 Which one of those

 little fast girls gave you those?

 None of them.

 They're for you.

 Oh, Devon.

 Saying I wouldn't be here

 if it wasn't for you.

 Wouldn't have made it without you.

 You're gonna be cool, right?

 I mean, I feel kinda weird

 leaving you by yourself.

 Boy, please. Now that you gone,

 I'm getting ready to party.

 (Chuckles)

 Uh, well, look.

 I gotta run real quick.

 - Wait, now. We got people coming by the house.

 - It'll be real fast.

 - I promise.

 - Devon.

 I promise. Real quick.

 Next.

 Next.

 - What the hell is this?

 - I'm Devon.

 What?

 I'm Devon.

 I been coming down here

 every day for the last two weeks...

 thinking if I should give you

 that ticket to my graduation.

 Now I changed my mind.

 Look, man. I just want to let you know

 that I got my diploma.

 I ain't never been arrested. I don't have

 a whole bunch of kids running around.

 Unlike yourself, I'm doing something

 with my music.

 I got a full scholarship

 to Atlanta A&T...

 playing the drums.

 I want to say

 I hope you're proud...

 'cause I made it without you.

 (Scene)

There is a popular saying: to be the man, you gotta beat the man. Homecoming was it, the first real opportunity for A&T to show their work through preseason, but also to show off their prized freshman, Devon Miles. The kid was a prodigy. He came down just a couple months earlier from New York City to be a part of the illustrious Atlanta A&T University show band. Alums were in the seats, trustees on the sidelines, the football game at hand was moot point; seats were full for Miles. As the battle began, the mouth breathers in red from Macon University were formidable. It is A&T’s turn to rock and the rats from Macon turned their backs on them, their heads bowed, drumsticks blocking their vision. They spin slowly, face our guys, and when percussion and the cymbals and clang and bang white powder vibrates into the sky. A&T fans have to cover their mouths. It’s a cheap shot, by pricks who couldn’t come up with better. The wonder kid initially brushes his shoulders off, but his drum is feeling his wrath. It’s like when those girls are chanting, “We Want Eazy, We Want Eazy”. The cheers are his, but this point his face is full of furry, scrunched and squinting down to nothing, gritting his teeth. As his anger shines through, he has gone to a dark place. Well, go ahead and do it then. Make no mistake, Miles does. The skinny freshman is possessed as he breaks the choreography and formation and careens toward the enemy. He stops. The teammates catch up. He goes again, this time playing ominously eye-to-eye with Macon’s fattest percussionist. Pure disgruntled, revving, revving adrenaline. Suddenly, hot damn what a gutsy prick, Devon walked to the edge and took the plunge. Fast as fire his sticks darted from his drum over to the fat man’s. It’s a flash barrage of incendiary bombs, cardinal sin that it is, the fat man did all he could to swing on our hero.

I’ve met several artists who when exhibiting want to come out swinging. Regardless of who they are showing with, whoever has previously shown in that space, they want to own the wall. There is a giddiness, a crazed by feeding off the competition. There is no confusion, their march only goes forward.  These artists are beasts, always striving to be the man.

Bio

Bruce Davenport, Jr.

Bruce Davenport Jr.’s, aka “Dapper Bruce Lafitte,” work has received national attention. He has exhibited at the Dieu Donne Gallery and the As If Gallery in New York and also at the Lambent Foundation in New York. His work was exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans as part of Prospect 1.5 and at the New Orleans Museum of Art as part of Prospect 2. He is represented by Louis B. James, New York. Bruce Davenport lives and works in the Lower 9th Ward.

Location

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