SRAC’s Art of the Guitar Exhibition Celebrates James Burton, “Master of the Telecaster”
by Pat Viser
Art of the Guitar
June 2 – August 19, 2017
Burton and wife Louise are curating the exhibit, which includes celebrity “guest guitars” from friends and memorabilia from his legendary rockabilly life. A professional musician from the age of fourteen, Burton has racked up an impressive list of artists with whom he has performed including Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, John Denver, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joni Mitchell, Jerry Lee Lewis, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, and Brad Paisley.
“I’m honored and excited about the exhibition at artspace. It’s humbling when your hometown shows their appreciation of your achievements through life. Although I have lived in other places and work all over the world, Shreveport has always been and will always be my hometown. I just love the people here,” said honoree James Burton.
The twelve weeks of summertime fun will include Burton playing and talking about his life and work, as well as screenings of films Burton appeared in, such as A Black and White Night with Roy Orbison and Aloha from Hawaii with Elvis Presley. Wednesday evenings will showcase local collectors discussing their guitars and will include educational programming for all ages. Thursdays will feature live performances with a variety of guitarists,
Art of the Guitar will spread over two floors of artspace, with the first floor featuring Burton memorabilia and a special exhibit on the evolution of Burton’s guitars. Many of these were designed specifically for him by Fender, beginning with his first signature Telecaster offered in 1991, which was based on Burton’s workhorse ’53 Tele. On the second floor, the “Guitar Heroes” exhibit will give the public a unique opportunity to showcase their own beloved guitars through a juried exhibition based upon craftsmanship, celebrity status, and history (or a good story).
Art of the Guitar also provides a sneak peek into the design of the James Burton Vintage Car and Guitar Museum, located in the heart of the developing Shreveport Common arts district across Elvis Presley Boulevard from the Municipal Auditorium where Burton first played. The museum will showcase Burton’s unique guitar collection and some of his classic cars as well as guitars and cars from some of his celebrity pals.
“The Art of the Guitar exhibition featuring James Burton, ‘master of the Telecaster,’ is another big step in developing Shreveport Common—the collaborative initiative to transform nine blocks of the long neglected western edge of downtown Shreveport from blight to artistic vibrancy,” said Pam Atchison, Executive Director of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. “During the eighteen-month Shreveport Common planning process, James and Louise shared their vision for the James Burton Vintage Car and Guitar Museum that will attract and engage visitors and community members. The Burton vision will add to the excitement and daily activity planned for Shreveport Common.”
Children’s activities will play an integral part in the Art of the Guitar exhibition through several summer camps designed for various ages. “Since 2005 the James Burton Foundation has raised money to buy guitars for children, helped put music curriculum back in schools, brought smiles to the faces of young hospital patients, and showcased the sounds of some of the world’s greatest musicians from the historic Municipal Auditorium stage,” said Janie Landry, Chair, James Burton Foundation. The James Burton Foundation hosts an international guitar show. The foundation’s mission is to give children the lifelong gift of music to pass on for generations.
Art of the Guitar opens at artspace in Shreveport on Friday, June 2, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and will run through August 19, 2017. The opening will feature James Burton, his signature guitars, celebrity guitars, and memorabilia from his six-decade, legendary musical history. For more information, visit www.artspaceshreveport.com.