Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Orleans- Art District & CAC


Walk the length of Julia Street between Convention Center and O'Keefe Avenue in New Orleans and you will stumble across gallery after gallery.  This section of New Orleans is referred to as NOAD, New Orleans Art District.  The development of this defunct warehouse area began with the 1984 World Trade Fair and continues to develop today. Though the effects of Katrina and the downturn in the economy have both impacted the arts community in New Orleans, the art scene continues to grow with first Saturday gallery walks and a full calendar of other art venues


Mother's  Restaurant

Steve Martin
Following a hearty breakfast at Mother's Restaurant, A. Paul & I took advantage of our nearby location to the area and strolled down Julia Street stopping in to speak to several gallery owner/directors.   One of our most informative stops on Julia Street was at the Steve Martin Gallery  (no, not the actor but it is a good PR draw states Martin).  Here, artist Steve Martin guided us through a retrospect of techniques in his works of wire & metal scultpures, prints and expressive paintings whose styles are reiminiscent of Modigliani, Picasso, Matisse and Moore. 

Martin moved into the NOAD after Katrina with other galleries following suit.  Seeing a need for promoting the area, Martin began the publication of Art New Orleans magazine which highlights galleries and friends of the arts in the NOAD.  You can read editions of the magazine online at and see Martin's works at or on his facebook page.  Thank you for your hospitality, Steve, we hope to see you in Provincetown.

Luc Leestemaker artwork

Luc Leestemaker artwork
At the Sorren Gallery, A. Paul & I studied the expressionistic paintings of published artist Luc Leestemaker. Leestemaker's large scale canvas with cement and dry, pure pigment paint  depict atmospheric landscapes that entice the imagination.

Inside CAC
Around the corner from Julia Street are several museums--the Contemporary Art Center, the Ogden Museum of Art, the WWII Museum, and the Childen's Museum.  The Contemporary Art Center (CAC)  formed in 1976 through the vision and efforts of visual and performing artists.  The mission of CAC is "to represent an era of creative freedom and multi-disciplinary expression" with a strong approach to education in the community.  The CAC is housed in a spacious warehouse, which A. Paul and I envied.  As I walked through the nature inspired exhibit, I kept thinking what it would be like to have so much space to show work.

The majority of the exhibit was current contemporary works completed in this past decade though we expected to see works by Rothko, Kadinsky, Calder as stated on the Center's website.

The Ogden Museum collections include Southern arts depicting the culture of the South.  When we arrived, the museum was fairly crowded so A. Paul & I opted to continue strolling through the district.  You can visit the Ogden collections at

The National World War II Museum, founded in 1991 by Dr. Stephen Ambrose, is located directly next door to the Ogden, making museum hopping in this area very convenient.  The museum houses one of the country's most comprehensive collections depicting WWII amphibious invasions
Once we reached the main thoroughfare in front of the Convention Center we decided to cross over and take a peek (no such thing as the enclosed shopping area is quite large) at the Riverwalk.  This mall-like double story structure houses food stalls,mardi gras ornamentation, and clothing shops.  Though it is not visual arts based, it did provide imagery for photographs.   Outside the riverside entrance, A. Paul snapped a photo of one of Lousiana's famed paddle boats making its way down the river.  Colorful mardi gras masks of ominous eyes stared back at us through windows, awaiting their turns to come to life. ( pre Mardi Gras activites are currently underway.)

After our stroll through the Riverwalk, we decided to forego the gallery stroll feeling we had taken in the gallery district during our day and ended our evening at Mulate's Cajun Restaurant for a little blackened fish with jambalaya while we listened to the tunes of a cajun band play.

Tomorrow, we will visit New Orleans Museum of Art in the morning while still leaving time to catch the superbowl.

We leave you with a parting shot of the setting sun reflecting on New Orleans downtown high rises.

No comments: