Before winning Grammys, Jon Batiste sat for a famed North Dakota photographer – InForum


BISMARCK — Jon Batiste won the Grand Prize at the 64th Grammy Awards on April 3rd, bringing back five statues.

After visiting Bismarck’s artist, he brought home another award last week.

A New York-based musician sat down for photographer Schoen Balkovich at his nostalgic wet plate studio on March 29th.

“He wanted to move away from urban life and come to North Dakota,” says the photographer.

Musician Jon Batiste and photographer Shane Balkovich at Bismarck’s studio.

Chad Nodland / Contribution

Batiste visited Standing Rocks Reservation and listened to traditional Indian drummers, says Barkowich. Tribal members wanted to give Batiste something special to commemorate his visit, so he arranged for Batiste to visit the photo studio. They also gave musicians a star quilt. He can be seen wrapped in one of the pictures.

Barcowich has been actively creating portraits of Native American wet plates for many years. In 2019, Deb Haaland sat in his place the year she became one of the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. Harland is now Secretary of the Interior and the first Native American to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

Barcowitch donated some of his plates to the North Dakota State Historical Society.

“When you distribute things to the world, you get something back and you really appreciate it,” he said.

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John Batiste of Bismarck Studios in Shane Balkovich.

Contribution / Shane Balkovich

Batiste arrived at the studio later in the day, urging the photographer to relocate the lights instead of taking advantage of the natural light from the large windows. Still, he was able to capture three images of the musician on a glass plate.

In dry plate photography, the image is recorded on glass rather than film. This process started around 1850 and was developed by exposing the inside of the camera using a collodion-coated glass plate and a highly sensitive syrup-like solution. All within about 20 minutes.


Jon Batiste is monitoring the wet plate process with photographer Shane Balkowitsch.

Contribution / Chad Nodland

The longer exposure results in a crisp image with high resolution and no particles or pixels.

In a video shot by Barkovich’s colleague Chad Norland, Batiste is excited to see the plate develop.

“It’s deep,” the pianist shouts.

“If I could put them in the front door of the studio and put them in the process, I would win them,” Barcowitch said of the wet plate as “the most illustrious photographic process person ever invented.” Call me and say.

He captured images of Batiste on three different plates. One was donated to musicians, the other to the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and the other to the North Dakota State Historical Society.

As one of the pictures, Batiste was sitting on the electric piano of Alivila’s daughter Alivia.

“Without an instrument, it’s hard to say about a musician,” says Ballkowitsch. “During the shoot, he was serenading everyone. He can’t be in a room with a piano without playing the piano.”

Since then, Barkovich has created and screwed a small plaque on the piano to indicate the date Batiste played.

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Jon Batiste, wrapped in a star quilt given to members of the Standing Rock Sour Reservation, sits in front of Alivila Barkovich’s piano.

Contribution / Shane Balkovich

“It was a wonderful little thing,” says Balkovich.

Just a few days later, the family stayed up until the end of the Grammy Awards on April 3 and cheered on Batiste. Batiste concludes the show with the Album of the Year award for “We Are”.

“It will always be special,” Barcowitch said, and it’s good for the three daughters to show that one day someone in the studio won the highest musical honor in front of an audience across the country. It was an experience. A few days later.

The day after the Grammy Awards, Balkovich announced that he would sell 100 images of Batiste for $ 50 each and donate the proceeds to the American Indian College Fund, a fundraiser he had done in the past.

The photographer will stay in Fargo later this month when the Fargo Theater will screen his documentary “Balkowitsch” on April 29th. Profile shoot.

In 2016, I took a photo during the protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and in 2019, I took a photo of climate activist Greta Tambomberg during a visit to the Standing Rock Reservation. One of Toonberg’s images, called “Standing For Us All,” was to be displayed as a mural in Bismarck, but the plan was canceled due to the threat of vandalism. Instead, the piece was installed in downtown Fargo, where it was destroyed and then restored.

“Balkovich” was scheduled to be highlighted at the 2020 Fargo Film Festival, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The photographer is finally excited to bring it to Fargo.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it in the theater,” he says.

The artist invited Alande Malai, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikira Fort Berthold Indian Reservations, to play the flute before the film. Barcowich answers questions after the one-hour movie shows.

what: “Balkovich” documentary screening
when: Friday, April 29, 8:00 pm
Where: Fargo Theater
information: Ticket is $ 10


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