2008 Time Is On Her Side: A Portrait of New Orleans’ Soul Queen
by Douglas Bourgeois
There are many ways to measure the greatness of performing artists: The permanency of their work, the depth of their fans’ embrace, their accessible humanity, their influence on fellow artists, and their staying power. By these metrics, Irma Thomas is indeed great. She began singing in 1959 while waiting tables at a New Orleans club. She was eighteen and got fired for her efforts but landed a recording contract the next year, and her career flourished when Allen Toussaint began producing her recordings of his songs. From 1961 to 1963, the duo turned out “It’s Raining”, “Ruler of My Heart”, “I Did My Part” and “I Done Got Over It,” among other classics. In early 1964 Thomas recorded another writer’s song, “Time Is On My Side”, which six months later the Rolling Stones recorded as a cover and rode it to their first top-10 U.S. hit. Otis Redding did much the same thing, reworking the spare “Ruler of My Heart” into “Pain in My Heart”. Not to be denied national recognition, Irma wrote and recorded the powerfully autobiographical “Wish Someone Would Care”, a hit that rose to #2 on the R&B charts in 1964. The B-side of that record, Irma’s pioneering interpretation of “Breakaway”, defines girl pop’s voicing and tempos to this day. In 1969 Hurricane Camille blew away the clubs that Irma relied on to hone her craft, so a few years later she opened her own club in Mid-City, the Lion’s Den, where she performed when not touring – until Katrina washed it and her home away in 2005. Again turning hardship to inspired art, Irma released the Grammy-winning album “After the Rain” in 2006. Her style and voice enthroned her as New Orleans’ Soul Queen. Her indomitable spirit makes her reign an enduring inspiration. Time has truly been on her side.
If the name Douglas Bourgeois is familiar, but you can’t quite picture the work, there’s good reason: He creates just a handful of paintings a year. His art is characterized by meticulousness in the service of dramatic allegory, and it takes time to craft the painstaking detail that distinguishes it. Bourgeois’ intelligently precise, yet playful juxtaposition of cultural symbolism brought him to national prominence over two decades ago and he carries that style forward in this print, the artist’s first published serigraph. Bourgeois brings his fondness for surreal depictions of pop culture’s glamour to bear on Irma as an icon of New Orleans’ heyday as an R&B recording hub and the City’s endurance in the face of rising tides. The dreamy perfection of Irma’s bouffant do, shimmering satin dress and matching shoes contrast sharply withthe equally perfectly rendered but unruly lush environment that surrounds her. After the rain, flowers bloom, songbirds return and vinyl remains ascendant. In this loving portrait, Irma imposes order on nature and revels in their mutually indomitable power.
3,000 Artist-signed & numbered prints on 100% Rag paper, 18” x 36”
750 Remarqued and Double-signed & numbered prints on 100% Rag paper, 20” x 40”
350 C-Marque, Double-signed and numbered canvasses, 26” x 40”
Poster originally sold for $69 (Unsigned), $239 (Artist-Signed), $595 (Re-Marque), $895 (C-Marque)
Poster and specifications may vary slightly.
Image ©2008 NOJ&HF, Inc. / Text ©2008 ProCreations Publishing Company