Art Car Parade Is Focus of Photographer Emily Jaschke’s First Solo Show

"Captain America" Artist: Eliseo Hilario The Kingsmen Car Club, Houston, TX

LONGTIME HOUSTON PHOTOGRAPHER Emily Jaschke has shot over the years for nearly every publication in Houston, and for local non-profits like The Diana Foundation, Urban Harvest and Second Servings. But in her first solo exhibition of her photographic work, she's going full metal — Full Metal Jaschke, that is.

That's the name of her show opening Saturday, May 8 at Mid Main Gallery (3550 Main St.), showcasing her rapid-fire shots from the Houston Art Car Parade, for which she has served as a chief photographer since 2016.

"Shattered Vanity" Artist: : Nicole Strine, Trinidad, CO

"Mad Max Mobile" Artist: Scott & Max Ballard, Houston, TX

"It's Only Rock and Roll But I Like It!" Heights High School with artist Rebecca Bass, Houston, TX

"The Peep Jeep" Artist: John Gregory, Houston, TX

The exhibit is a precursor to this year's Houston Art Car Experience, which takes place May 14-16 at The Orange Show World Headquarters (2334 Gulf Terminal Dr.) in lieu of the traditional parade. It will feature 80 incredible art cars on display during the day and lit up at night, plus interactive walking tours, children's craft activities, and performances by The Suffers, Los Skarnales, Tomar & The Figs and Bayou City Funk. Full Metal Jaschke will encapsulate a colorful photographic montage of some of the best art cars from the Houston Art Car Parade days of yore.

Over the years, Jaschke has snapped more than 4,700 photographs for the Orange Show Center For Visionary Art, which puts on the annual parade, so it was no small feat for her to sift through them all to find a selection of photographs that perfectly encapsulate the frenetic annual experience, which she describes as being akin to a synthesis of Burning Man and Mardi Gras, with just a touch of Mad Max.

"It's wild. It's not anything goes, but everything is accepted," says Jaschke of the parade and associated events, which usually have her shooting for around 10 hours over the course of the weekend. "You're in a crowd of people who just love art and who love being free."

The works Jaschke selected for the show — a combination of closeups, full-body shots of the cars and shots of the parade's boisterous crowds — capture the full essence of the high-energy annual event. Homaging the metallic exuberance of the cars in the parade, the photographs in the exhibition are printed on metal, which Jaschke says really do the artistic intent justice. But there is nothing metallic or staid about the ebullient-hued and frenzied photographs in her show, which seem to move and dance as if they are, in fact, on parade.

Jaschke has carefully framed each shot so that they are perfect photographic representations of the imaginative energy that the event channels each year — an energy that inspires Jaschke greatly.

"I really respect people with wild imaginations, especially when they are my age or older. We all have an imagination growing up, but somehow over the years it kind of gets lost in the daily grind. There's a sort of creative thievery that happens when we age, so it's fun to meet people who still have it, and especially people who still have it in magnified ways," she says. "They're free in what they want to wear and how they choose to present themselves and their crafts, and that really just resonates with me."

The opening reception for Full Metal Jaschke, which will be on display at Mid Main through September, kicks off this Saturday at 6pm and will include a special visual presentation, music by DJ Chaney and a handful of other surprises. While the party will be socially distanced outdoors, masks will be required while inside the gallery.

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