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The Buk Shop

Original Vintage Photographs of Gypsy Lou Webb’s Studio

Original Vintage Photographs of Gypsy Lou Webb’s Studio

Regular price $750.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $750.00 USD
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I’ll be honest in saying it’s hard to give up these photographs. Not just from a LouJon perspective, but from a New Orleans historical perspective as well. They capture a moment in time and I hope they go to someone who deeply appreciates them for intangible value.

This photograph is vintage on vintage photo paper. There is a bit of a curl and ripples in the thick photo paper stock. Most likely due to the high humidity in New Orleans. But the humidity caused no foxing. There are just a few marks and rubbing visible on the white border.

Louise “Gypsy” Lou Webb and her husband Jon Edgar Webb were the founders of LouJon Press, publishers of Outside magazine and Charles Bukowski’s first two true books, It Catches My Heart In Its Hands (1963) and Crucifix In A Deathhand (1965).

During these pursuits, the couple was always struggling financially. The only reliable source of income were the paintings Gypsy Lou sold to tourists in The French Quarter. New Orleans is known for its local characters and, as you can tell by these photographs, Gypsy Lou created a persona for herself that became legendary for a time.

It’s hard to date these photographs, partly because New Orleans streets and architecture always look timeless, but also because in many cases there are little historical references other than Gypsy Lou’s memory.

In his groundbreaking book on the Webbs and LouJon Press, “Bohemian New Orleans, The Story of the Outsider and LouJon Press”, historian Jeff Weddle mentions an article on Gypsy Lou from the Times Picayune that can be seen displayed on the studio’s storefront, but the clipping was from Gypsy Lou’s own keepsakes and was not dated.

Here’s an excerpt of the article from Weddle’s book:

“She is perhaps the most startling of all the artists in the Quarter, with her full black cape, her beret or perhaps a gold-flecked bandana, and her metallic threaded slippers…”

Weddle goes on to describe the shop, which is well-worth including here:

“’Gypsy Lou’s Little Studio’, as she called her art stand at the corner of Royal and St. Peter, became a neighborhood landmark. She hung a sign advertising ‘Watercolors with a charm by Gypsy Lou Webb,’ and specialized in clown faces and French Quarter street scenes. The clowns sold for three dollars each, or two for five dollars. She encouraged passersby to post notes on a tackboard leaning against a wall. The tackboard bore the inscription ‘If You’re Lost Or Want to Get Lost, Tack What You Wish On This Board’. The board was Jon’s idea, and some people took the invitation to heart, leaving messages… Louise posted a number of messages herself, the idea being that if she could get people to stop and read, she could make a sale.”

Everything Weddle describes you’ll find in these photographs – and more. I’ve edited and enlarged some areas to see them better.

If you look to the right, you’ll catch Gypsy Lou skulking in a doorway. She looks almost like a hidden figure in a painting by one of Masters.

Above her you’ll see a large photograph of her (in a signature outfit) standing in front of her paintings with her studio sign:

Gypsy Lou’s

Surrounding her paintings is the sign:

Gypsy Lou Webb

Below that sign, another:


To the left, is the Mardi Gras Clowns sign Weddle describes, along with another reading but they’re 3 for $5.

Finally, there’s the famous tackboard, filled with notes by passersby and Gypsy Lou herself.

As to the photographer, there’s a strong possibility that Jon Webb took the photographs, but they had a large contingent of artist friends in the Quarter, so who knows.

Two, very rare, highly desirable photograph for not only Bukowski or LouJon Press fans, but anyone with a collection or interest in historic New Orleans photographs.

Loujon Press was responsible for transforming Bukowski into an established writer, even if fame wouldn’t occur until years later. They published Bukowski’s first true books, “It Catches My Heart In Its Hands” (1963) and “Crucifix in a Deathhand” (1965). These books are true works of art in and of themselves. The detail, the printing methods, the craftsmanship, and the pure insanity necessary to undertake these endeavors was as unparalleled then and as it is today.

They also published Outsider magazine, which became the standard for poetry journals at the time. No other publication attracted nearly the talent that appeared in its pages and the production value of the magazine itself was unrivaled. Bukowski appeared in all four issues, with a large collection of poems in Outsider 1 (1961) and as the named “Outside of the Year” in Outsider 3 (1963), featuring Bukowski on the cover and a large center section.

Case 5

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