Welcome to 10 Questions with KREWE — a new monthly 10 question interview featuring various artists around the city. Our first artist is the wonderfully talented Frank Relle, a New Orleans born photographer who captures haunting, panoramic views of his city in the evening hours. These “nightscapes” reveal the distinctive cohesion of beauty and decay, light and shadow, and nature and architecture that is unique to New Orleans and its surrounding areas. Frank’s work is atmospheric, distinctive, and eerily beautiful.
What is your favorite word?: “Probably circadian — which is relative to time and light and the circadian rhythms.”
The best song you’ve heard recently: “Do you know Volcano Choir?” (at this point, Frank pulls out his phone and shows me this video).
What is your favorite place?: “My bathtub. I love my fucking bathtub. I live in a really old house and it has a claw-foot bathtub that’s like six and a half feet long. There’s this big stained glass window behind the bathtub that opens up onto the city.”
The last time you did something outside of your comfort zone: “I guess I’m doing something outside of my comfort zone right now. Mounting this show is stretching — this space, inviting all these people, y’know, it’s outside my comfort zone. It’s what I wanna do, but, some creatives seem to fully embrace the creative process and they can love it all along the way. For me there is something that is uncomfortable with saying ‘I’m finished and I want you all to come see’ — it’s daunting to put it all together and stop creating at some point and pick a date that becomes a stopping point.”
What do you think about when you’re brushing your teeth?: “Well, I call it monkey brain. ‘Did you do this, when will you do this, how are you gonna do this. Focus, Frank, focus!’ Otherwise, I’m anticipating my next dental visit… sometimes I’m not thinking about anything, just enjoying the process. There’s no thought, you’re just experiencing everything.”
Tell me your best joke: “There’s this young Indian boy goes to his father, the chief, and asks ‘Dad, how do we come up with the names for our people?’ and his dad said ‘Well son, when a child is born, the very first thing we do is open the teepee and the first thing we see is what we name the child. For example, your brother, Sitting Bull, and your sister, Running Deer. Tell me, why do you ask, Two Dogs Fucking?’”
What is your guilty pleasure?: “I have these dance parties, they usually happen early in the morning. They happen to good pop music, old pop.” (At this point, Frank gives me a pretty good preview of what these dance parties are like, complete with interpretive dancing, singing, Heart, and Belinda Carlyle. The rest of the interview is set to the sounds of Frank’s morning dance parties. It is fantastic.)
A smile-inducing memory: “For me, the memories that I return to are most often more related to physical experiences, usually involving being out on the water. I sailed for a long time, and being out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, listening to the music of the waves. One time I was out in Montana, and I found this spring-fed pool. Those were good memories. They bring me a calming peacefulness.”
What gets you out of bed in the morning?: “Work. And dance parties! And light, light coming in through the windows.”
Who is your KREWE?: “My family. My dad, we call him the Wolf, like Harvey Keitel from Pulp Fiction. My brother and I have shops next to one another. My studio is on this land that my great, great grandfather settled on in 1888. My dad built his real estate office there, my brother has a studio there. They’re my krewe. They’re the consistent thing in my life. My dad was doing a million different things to help bring this show together. I have a creative background, and my brother, Christopher is a wood worker. People don’t realize that I have him in my back pocket. I have his support and my dad’s support. It’s amazing.”
Photographs by Blaire Bowers.