‘Jazzmen’ exhibit opens Thursday

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2000

Area residents get a rare opportunity this week to experiencethe artistic vision of photographer Bob Coke in a specialexhibition presented by the Arts Council division of the BrookhavenTrust.

A special series of Coke’s photos — intimate portraits andstudies of the Jazzmen of New Orleans — were shot while he residedin New Orleans in the 1960s.

The exhibition opening is being held in conjunction with theyearly membership drive for the Brookhaven Trust on Thursday, Dec.7, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the State Room. The public is invited.

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The photos will hang for one week and may be viewed daily from 9a.m. to 5 p.m.

Born in Brookhaven in 1920, Coke’s passion for photographydeveloped when he was a teenager. Although Coke had access to a boxcamera as early at 1935, it was not until 1947 that he bought hisfirst camera from Floyd and Billy East at the East Drug Store inBrookhaven.

His career took him from Lincoln County to New York where he wasthe still photographer for Globe Photos. He migrated to New Orleansin 1951. Never straying too far from his camera, he worked as anaerial photographer for Photo Maps, Inc., and did some freelancework, primarily black and white prints.

In 1952, Coke went to work for Bennett’s Camera Store in NewOrleans, where he continued his passion of capturing images throughthe eye of his lens, even doing consultant photography for thepathology department of the LSU Medical School.

It was the 12 years at Bennett’s that eventually led Coke to the”Jazzmen” and New Orleans’ historic Preservation Hall where hephotographed some ground-breaking jazz performers andcomposers.

The Brookhaven Trust for the Preservation of history, culture,and the arts was established to provide exhibitions of this nature,to recognize and expose artists such as Coke, and to educate andexpand the artistic sensibilities of the community to suchsignificant historical and cultural movements as the Jazzmen of NewOrleans.