Member since Mar 4, 2009


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Re: “Reveling in Recovery: Rex Duke Parade Reviews

My sincere thanks to those rare parade aficionados like summershome and amberle who make wonderful photographic records of our float artwork for all to enjoy freely, and to those posters who take a hard and objective look at the work that goes into making visually profound parades.

I was heart-broken to read the Rex Duke reviews this year. The most passionately devoted and wildly talented artists in Mardi Gras saw their finest efforts placed on level ground with, or beneath, some of the saddest and shabbiest floats of the season.

Few are aware of the impact that these reviews have within the highly-insulated world of Carnival creation. Lives pivot around them. Delicate political balances tip over them. Careers rise and fall by them. That’s not fair to the artists or the fans, but that’s the reality. And when amazing artwork gets overshadowed by throws and such, our ability to present great artwork in future parades becomes very seriously jeopardized.

From our point of view, the greatest problem with these reviews is the fact that the parade as a whole is given a single rating. We can push a team of brilliant artists all year long to set a new standard of Carnival artistry (or to restore Mardi Gras to its former magnificence, as the case may be), but if the riders aren’t throwing well as they pass by the reviewers, or the tractors break down (which are often rented due to financial necessity), or it’s cold that night and crowds are slim, the rating drops and the artists are the ones who pay the price.

The handful of exceptionally talented artists who struggle to survive in competition with the mammoth Kern monopoly are barely managing to keep a roof over their heads as it is. Few of you have any idea of the personal and economic sacrifices we all make to bring inspiration and beauty to our streets each year. Love is just about all that keeps us going. This year’s Rex Duke review was a jarring defeat to Carnival artists and artistry.

The only way to save the tradition of Carnival artistry from this desperate situation, and assure a future of increasingly-beautiful and artistically-competitive parades, would be to rate the floats separately from the other factors which lie beyond the influence of the float creators who devote thousands of hours of their lives each year to making captivating floats.

But I doubt that’ll ever happen. Which is very sad. Maybe the Muses parade had a terrific ‘you had to be there’ kind of magic, but gauging from the photos, their float work was typical Kern slop.

If that’s enough to win the Rex Duke team’s singular and highest praise, soon that may be all that’s left, and real artistry may perish from Carnival altogether.

Posted by ParadeMaker on 03/04/2009 at 5:34 PM

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