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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bill Daniel screens hobo graffiti film and leads workshop in New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 3:37 PM

click to enlarge Bill Daniel explored graffiti in Who is Bozo Texino? - COURTESY BILL DANIEL
  • Bill Daniel explored graffiti in Who is Bozo Texino?

Artist Bill Daniel is no stranger to unorthodox approaches to art. Heavily influenced by punk rock, he has toured the country for the past 30 years, converting unconventional spaces into pop-up galleries and showing films on a screen built on the roof of his van. Daniel visits New Orleans March 24-27 for a film screening and photography workshop that reflect his approach.

“I feel like the city has always managed to keep a flame lit and a space open for artists who support each other and who don't give a shit about the so-called rest of the world,” he says.

Daniels screens his 2005 film Who Is Bozo Texino? March 24 at Mudlark Public Theater. It chronicles his quest to discover the origins of a graffiti tag found on countless railcars since the early 20th century. His interest in railcar iconography dates to the 1980s, when he first started hopping freight trains around America. Over three decades, Daniel became one of the country’s premier documentarians of vagabond culture. Comprising footage shot over a 16-year period of boxcar rides, his documentary creates a captivating portrait of hobo life and its arcane folklore. The director will take questions after the screening.

click to enlarge The image of Bozo Texino is scrawled on train cars across the United States. - COURTESY BILL DANIEL
  • The image of Bozo Texino is scrawled on train cars across the United States.

Beau Patrick Coulon, a New Orleans based photographer immersed in contemporary train-hopping culture, will present his work as well. There also is a performance by Room 101, a one-man, multimedia punk band replete with video projection.

Daniel leads a “Junk Camera Workshop” at the New Orleans Community Printshop on March 26-27. The two-part workshop is a way to explore “making photographs in a low cost, modern primitive style,” Daniel says.

“For years, I've collected all these old junk cameras and lenses and have wanted to build Frankenstein cameras out of the stuff to see what sort of weird contraptions and images could be had,” he says. “So finally I figured the only way to make this idea happen was to teach it.”

Pinhole photography and basic black-and-white darkroom production are a few of the topics covered in the introduction to low-tech image-making. Materials and equipment will be supplied. Participants are encouraged to bring Polaroid cameras or other vintage medium-format cameras for potential modification.

When asked how he feels train-hopping and vagabond culture has changed over the years, Daniel says, “Freight riding has gone through some crazy transmogrifications over the last 25 years.”

“The fact of the matter is that the culture and practice of train tramping was essentially saved from the brink of extinction by punks,” he adds.

Who is Bozo Texino? screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24 at the Mudlark Public Theater (1200 Port St.). Admission is $5. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.

The “Junk Camera Workshop” takes place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 26-27 at New Orleans Community Printshop (1201 Mazant St.). The workshop is $30 for the first day and $50 for both. For more information and to pre-register, e-mail or visit

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