For a young Black man in New Orleans, the early 21st century has been one of ups and downs. Yet, for local photographer and writer L. Kasimu Harris, his turn-of-the-century lens has witnessed that “dreams do come true.” This in fact, is the title of Harris’ first solo photography exhibition, one of his personal dreams realized. The exhibit is presently on view inside Bellocq craft cocktail lounge and tapas bistro, located adjacent to the Hotel Modern (formerly Hotel Le Cirque) on New Orleans’ Lee Circle.
The “Dreams Do come True” exhibition “is an observation of my dreams where I explores presidential, and saintly dreams as well as imagery from my subconscious thoughts,” Harris states. A child of the 1980s, Harris thought electing a Black President of the United States of America was as unlikely as the New Orleans Saints winning a Super Bowl. The New Orleans native began visually exploring the possibility of a Black president in the summer of 2008, while reporting in Chicago.
“Dreams Do Come True” is also the title of Harris’ images selected by HBO for the opening credits of the Treme series’ fourth season, taken in early January 2009 during the Perfect Gentleman Social Aid & Pleasure Club’s second-line, which too was themed “Dreams Do Come True.” Several of the photographs in the exhibition include Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints safety, and his wife fulfilling their dreams beyond the football field. Another photo is of Jabari Greer, a defensive back for the Saints, indulging in his love of jazz. Greer and Jenkins were members of the Saints Super Bowl winning team, Greer also a guest speaker at Harris’ photo exhibition opening artist talk.
Harris’ professional pursuits are also a part of the exhibit, including his attempt at shooting an album cover for Delfeayo and Ellis Marsalis and a constant drive to not ignore the unique images and moments of daily life. Though he has appeared in other outlets of note in the region — including features in Oxford American magazine and a position as one of the visual artists in “The Invisible Man” group show during the Prospect.2 biennial in 2012 — the “Dreams Do Come True” show is the first where Harris gets to have his solo voice.
Many of the images in the exhibit are familiar New Orleans scenes of the city’s incomparable culture and heritage, but possess details that set them apart from many other portraits of Crescent City life — often illustrating a lengthier lineage of triumph and expanded sense of victory. All of this is set inside the sultry ambiance of Bellocq. Already known as one of the city’s new, premiere mixology bars, Bellocq is named after John Earnest Joseph “E.J.” Bellocq, a professional photographer working in New Orleans during the early 20th century. Harris’ show is the first exhibit in Bellocq’s new photography series.
Experience “Dreams Do Come True” for yourself at the exhibit’s closing reception with the artist this Thursday, January 23 at 8 p.m. Bellocq is located at 936 St. Charles Avenue. For information about the artist, visit www.lkasimuharris.com.