His Mobile Childhood Inspires His New Orleans Art

Reported by: Darwin Singleton


The artist Tanner has found his mark by calling on his past

In a gallery on New Orleans' fashionable Magazine Street, an artist stands in front of some remarkable images.... the bulk of them shadows of trees... something that sounds not unusual... until you see them. "I didn't really fit in, so I had kind of a hard time in school" he says, looking at the wall of work. " I never could wait to get home and go out into our pasture..."


As a young boy growing up in Semmes, Tanner would seek out the solitude surrounding his parents' rural Mobile County home. And with his mind's eye he would “photograph” a place that know one else could see. Until now.


"And I'd go out there for hours until it got dark and just lay on the ground and look at the trees. It was the only place I could find peace."


It was a peace Tanner left behind as an adult, choosing the energy of New Orleans as his next inspiration. There he would turn his creativity toward acting, movie effects... and painting in the French Quarter's Jackson Square. And it was through his painting that Tanner's memory of that peaceful place in Semmes would manifest itself.


"I got picked on at school a lot, and I was really skinny. I would always imagine a place that was safe for me but kind of scary so my enemies wouldn't follow me. I think that's why my paintings have that peaceful feeling to them, but a little eeriness at the same time." 


Tanner is no longer near that peaceful, private place where he found security as a child. He no longer has to go there, because he carries it with him everyday. "Some people get it and some people don't," says Tanner quietly. "But that's fine."