As Albert Einstein famously said, “Time is relative; Its worth depends only on what we do as it passes.” Houston-based photographer Tracy Anne Hart has over time enabled her to capture many amazing and historic images of the Texan god Stevie Ray Vaughan and more.
“Time is relative and a constraint we impose on the universe,” agrees Hart. “It’s not real. If you’re a particle, it doesn’t matter what time it is, and we’re all made of them.”
Hart will be hosting a special event as part of this year’s Houston FotoFest, the international photography festival held here every two years past, present and future There she will be displaying and selling prints from her long career as a photographer of live music in Texas and will be showcasing her 2023 Stevie Ray Vaughan calendar with a special event.
past, present and future will be held at the Rockefeller on Friday October 7th with the event running from 6pm to midnight. Calendars and prints are available for purchase, as well as a Q&A session with Hart starting at 8:00 p.m., followed by a special performance by Houston’s John Egan.
Entrants can view and purchase their prints at a discounted rate, and one lucky entrant will win a special archival print of Stevie Ray Vaughan, who is joking around with none other than Joe Ely, from a 1985 encounter backstage at Fitzgerald’s. The image was used in the calendar for the month of July.
“I was so lucky to be there,” says Hart. “It was a real blessing to be there at that time. Stevie was playing at the music hall downtown and we invited him over to Fitzgerald’s and play a few songs with Joe, and of course backstage was the real fun,” Hart says of the playful image of Vaughan, God knows what calculated on Elys calculator bolero.
Hart and Vaughan became friends after she was sent to Fitzgerald’s to photograph the up-and-coming guitar hero during her earlier appearance on Pubic News, a long-defunct local newspaper in the city.
“I was blown away by the sound check,” she says of her first impression of Vaughan. “I know he did Voodoo Child and I always wanted to photograph Hendrix, but I was too young. I just thought oh my god this guy is amazing! I need to talk to him and we understand each other.”
Hart’s images of Vaughan were collected for a book entitled. to see Stevie Ray which was released in 2020, when Hart also had events planned as part of FotoFest before the pandemic rolled around and shut everything down.
“It’s like SXSW for photography,” says Hart of FotoFest, which she has been involved with since 1986. This year’s title of the festival is If I had a hammerbased on the famous protest song by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays.
In the collections on display throughout the city, artists explore the many facets of cultural celebration, destruction and appropriation that have sometimes unconsciously taken shape as people accept and perpetuate the very systems that feed the unhealthy machine.
Hart’s photo collection embodies the concept applied to blues music as she photographed and collected images for this show that represent the music’s past, present and future. Hart clearly describes Vaughan and others who will feature at the event as the past, while players like Gary Clark Jr., Eric Tessmer and Sue Foley are the present, and artists like Fantastic Negrito serve as the future of blues music.
Choosing Rockefeller’s as the venue for her event was a natural fit as Hart has not only photographed many artists there, but also often participates in print giveaways during concerts by the artists she photographs.
“Rockefeller’s just seemed like the right place,” says Hart. “The history of music and the history of architecture. Oddly enough, I never saw Stevie there. I’ve always seen him at Fitzgeralds, in Austin, or at the Sam Houston Coliseum, but I saw the Fabulous Thunderbirds there, and I actually saw them before Stevie.”
When asked how she chose photos for the 2023 calendar, Hart says she tried to use images that were taken in the month they depict on the calendar, but more importantly, selected images that she felt were right represented the quality she was looking for as she showed a pre and post sobriety to Vaughan.
“Once he got sober, he definitely followed the 12 steps and definitely did whatever he could to help people who were going through the same thing he was, and it continues to this day,” says Hart, recalling the many inspirational messages she receives from Vaughan fans who credit him with their own sobriety.
“I only got clean after Stevie passed, but he was also an inspiration to me. It’s a thing a lot of people say, and it’s true, if he could do it, anyone could, because oh my god, he’s been up and down an amazing amount of coke.”
Although Hart photographs in color and now uses digital methods to enhance the quality of her work, for this collection she focused on her intentional black and white shots, which she felt weren’t necessarily an artistic approach, but more a way of compensating the poor Lighting and effects on the color film she was using when taking these pictures of Vaughan.
When asked what makes a good concert photo, Hart says, “Capturing the spirit. Just show the essence of the person you are photographing or whatever you are photographing.”
In addition to photographing musicians, Hart also works in architectural photography. Later this year she will host a two-part workshop at Precision Camera & Video in The Woodlands, where attendees will learn more about her approach and have the opportunity to practice with a live performance by Eric Tessmer.
Regardless of the subject, she assures that capturing his spirit, which is not always bound by time, is important. “You think of all the ghosts that have gone before, all the music and art, and I often wonder if a photograph is already there, just waiting for someone to capture it.”
Past, Present and Future will be held on Friday, October 7th at Rockefeller’s, 3620 Washington at 6pm and admission is free. Q&A begins at 8:00 p.m., with John Egan performing at 8:45 p.m