The tradition of Jazz Fest posters being anti-artist and anti-art is a proud one. Artists have been asked over and over again to mimic photos as realistically as possible where the figures are concerned, often at the expense of their style. That's the case in the Congo Square poster this year, which is in substance a reproduction of a Trombone Shorty publicity shot.
Worse is yet another James Michalopoulos poster, this one remarkably like the one he did of Fats Domino. This time, it's Allen Toussaint who's playing in the street with Michalopoulos' trademark curving buildings looming overhead. Besides the piece's lack of basic logic - why is he playing piano in the street? - it's also Michalopoulos' weakest effort. The piano is poorly drafted, resembling a key-tar more than a piano in the way it angles away from Toussaint's body. Since Michalopoulos' work usually shows better architectural consciousness than that, it's sad and inexplicable.
Still, his artistic sins are less glaring than Jazz Fest's. The choice of Michalopoulos for his third or fourth poster is simply cynical, as if people buying it will validate everything. Collectors collect, and those who have bought posters each year will buy them again this year, so the decision is whether or not to give them something as excellent as Doug Bourgeois's Irma Thomas poster last year, or pass off the same ol' same ol'. We know the answer.