The Federation Of Black Cowboys

Arthur “JR” Fulmore - The Federation of Black Cowboys

This was one of those situations that shows you never know where the flow of your career is gonna take you. Andrew Horton…the Creative Director at The Village Voice…asked if I wanted to shoot some Black Cowboys…in Queens. The Federation of Black Cowboys is a group of urban cowpokes whose goal is to promote knowledge of the “Black West”. Their Ponderosa for the past two decades is a ramshackle stable just off Conduit Boulevard in Howard Beach, but recently their membership has dwindled to around 20 die-hards and now they face losing the license agreement for the stables. Andrew and I wanted my portraits to capture a gritty, iconic essence of what it is to be a Cowboy…and we also agreed that our touchstone style should be an homage to Richard Avedon’s In The American West. So off to Queens we went…

Unlike Avedon, I wasn’t going to drag out the 8×10 and set up a North-Light studio in the shadow of a barn…

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Instead, we decided to make a huge wall of soft light by putting up the biggest lights I own…

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The only problem is, when you fly a 79″ parabolic light in 25mph wind as we had that day, the shit hits the fan awfully fast. Even with over 100lbs of sandbags on each 50lb Matthews Stand, it was like trying to hold down a racing sailboat in a Regatta! But I didn’t care…Kaz had to deal with it…

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But our basic setup was pretty similar to Avedon’s…a simple white seamless set up on the North side of one of the stables…

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And here’s how things turned out…

Arthur “J.R.” Fulmore…

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Arthur “JR” Fulmore - The Federation of Black Cowboys

“Mama” Kesha Morse…

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Sheryl “Kesha” Morse - The Federation of Black Cowboys

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“Mountain Man” Ellis Harris…

Ellis “Mountain Man” Harris - The Federation of Black Cowboy

Ellis “Mountain Man” Harris - The Federation of Black Cowboy

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Even though we had always conceived the shoot as a high-contrast Black & White series, we still wanted to see how things looked in color…

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…but in the end, the B&W was just too strong, and here’s how it looks in this week’s Village Voice

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Thanks to Andrew for giving me the opportunity to hang with some real cool cats…and special thanks to J.R., Kesha and Mountain Man for opening up the stables to a Dude from the City…

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Song of the Day

THE MYNABIRDS
Generals


DOWNLOAD: Generals

Laura Burhenn and the Omaha-based Mynabirds are back with their second album, Generals, due out June 5th, and she’s giving away the title track…a percussion-heavy, anthemic foot-stomper that was good enough to get me out the the serious Song of the Day drought I’ve been in! In this song, Laura sounds kinda pissed off with the way a few politicians have been trying to step on the rights of hard-working girls out there lately…

Calling all my generals
My daughters, my revolutionaires
We’ve got strength in numbers
And they’re going to pay for it…

Word is Generals is a concept album that’s allowing her to exercise her political frustration and was named after the Richard Avedon photo “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution”, and she wants all you gals you strap on your ‘black boots’ and ‘war paint’ and don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t count…Amen! You can check out The Mynabirds on their website and for all you locals, they’ll be in New York June 22nd at The Mercury Lounge.