Everything Old is Renewed Again™: Fats Houston A Portrait in Dignity
by Kenneth Scott, Jr.
The immortal Matthew “Fats” Houston, the most iconic grand marshal ever to strut a New Orleans street graced the 1976 Jazz Fest poster and while this marvelous retake celebrates the 35th anniversary of that glorious slice of time and place, it also lovingly memorializes the great man’s passing. Jazz’s evanescence defied personification until Fats Houston fronted the Eureka, Olympia and Young Tuxedo Brass Bands. crafting the definitive grand marshal persona out of found objects turned into sashes and a strutting gait that defied duplication as it defined dignity.
Kenneth Scott Jr. came into the world just as Fats was exiting. Yet despite never having second-lined with the man himself. Scott captures the majesty of his subject in an enduring work. Scott grew up in New Orleans’ 9th ward and leveraged his precocious art talents to move beyond its constraints. Like Terrance Osborne (CS07, CS10) before him, Scott benefited from the tutelage of New Orleans’ great art educator, Richard Thomas 0F89, CS06). Discovering Scott’s neo-Pop artwork displayed at Jazz Fest’s Congo Square Marketplace reawakened the poster publisher’s long-held desire to return to classic poster imaging and do a “remix” of a cherished subject. The work Scott produced is a reflect ion of Fats’ transcendent grace and a tribute to the artist’s intuitive talent.