Marty Stuart: “There Was a time When Photography Was Not Looked On As Art”

by James Minchin III / UMG

Marty Stuart, a skilled photographer in addition to his talents as a musician, previewed a new exhibit of his photos, American Ballads: The Photographs of Marty Stuart, for invited guests at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Thursday night (May 15). The exhibit, showcasing more than 60 black-and-white photos, is now open to the public.

American Ballads is made up of three sections: The Masters, Marty's photographs of country music icons like Johnny Cash, Lester Flatt, Loretta Lynn and others; Blue Line Hotshots, capturing the quirky denizens of the back roads and small towns where Marty has traveled; and Badlands, devoted to the Lakota people of South Dakota, with whom Marty has a strong relationship. Marty told Country Weekly that he was honored to have his work displayed in the Frist Center.

“What this means to me is beyond words,” he said. “I got serious about photography when I was a teenager. I was touring with Lester Flatt in 1974 and I was in New York City for the first time. I saw some photographs taken by Milt Hinton, the jazz bass player, in a bookstore and I thought I could do that, too. I called my mom and she sent me a little Instamatic camera. It just snowballed from there.”

The very lady who helped fuel Marty’s passion, his mom, Hilda, was in attendance for Marty’s big night, along with his dad, John. Also enjoying the exhibit were singer Mandy Barnett, famed clothing designer Manuel and a number of music industry insiders.

Marty spoke to the crowd briefly during the preview reception. “Thank you to the Frist,” Marty said. “It is an honor to be in one of America's finest art institutions. There was a time,” Marty continued, “when photography was not looked on as art. There was a time when country music was not looked on as deep art. Tonight, on the walls of the Frist, I see photography and I see country music. I’ll submit to you that these are great forms of art.”

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