Nestled in the marshes and bayous of Louisiana is a world unlike any other. The politics are as steamy as the weather, and the people and places defy generalization. In this handsome and entertaining book, Cyril Vetter books us passage into that enchanting and wondrous world through a sympathetic and thorough rendering of the lifework of the internationally renowned Baton Rouge photographer Fonville Winans (1911-1992). Celebrated as one of America’s best regional photographers, Winans offered a view of Louisiana through a marvelous and eccentric eye, a view that will invoke nostalgic memories for Louisiana natives and introduce others to the magic and beauty of the Pelican State.
Fonville Winans’ Louisiana contains more than one hundred black-and-white photographs spanning a period of nearly forty years and depicting the politicians, ordinary citizens, and exotic locales that exemplify Louisiana’s cultural richness and diversity. During his long career, Winans photographed virtually all of the colorful campaigners who have given the state’s politics such a spicy reputation—the legendary brothers Huey and Earl Long; the “singing governor,” Jimmie Davis; the archsegregationist and demagogue Leander Perez; the charismatic and controversial Edwin Edwards; and many others.
Equally striking are the portraits and candids of everyday people: bartenders and beauty queens, oystermen and inmates, sharecroppers and salt miners, black, white, Cajun, Creole. Taken mainly during the 1930s and 1940s, his photographs of cane fields, fishing camps, festivals, dance halls, paper mills, plantations, swamps, and seascapes show the beauty and simplicity of a mostly rural Louisiana and a time gone by.
Cyril Vetter, a longtime admirer and collector of Winans’ work, combines the best of these celebrated portraits and landscapes and wraps them in a text that blends biographical fact with personal recollection and humor.
Accompanying the book is a compact disc that includes the spoken-word recording of Earl K. Long’s Last of the Red Hot Papas, Huey P. Long singing “Every Man a King,” Jimmie Davis crooning “You Are My Sunshine,” and many other musical selections significant to Louisiana’s lively political past.
Through his photographs, Fonville Winans left a priceless legacy to future generations of Louisianians. With this collection, Cyril Vetter celebrates that legacy and provides a unique view of this distinctive and diverse state.
Over the past five decades Cyril E. Vetter's career has included work in music, broadcasting, and publishing. He is the author of Fonville Winans' Louisiana: Politics, People, and Places and The Louisiana Houses of A. Hays Town.
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