New Orleans Sojourn

Our 2nd New Orleans Sojourn Begins!

We’re finally here!

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Bienvenue to our hideaway in the 2nd oldest neighborhood in New Orleans — Algiers Point in Old Algiers, just across the river from the foot of Canal and the French Quarter — New Orleans oldest neighborhood.

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(The pencil is pointing to our house on Bouny Street.)

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We are in the hidden part of the house, down the side and in the back.

We have 3 good sized rooms plus bath, laundry room, and a little private patio — which is more than twice as big as our Pied-a-terre last year.

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Mike’s set up his “office” at a little desk in the bedroom, and his easel is in the kitchen ready for him to finish up his painting for his May exhibition at the Carol Robinson Gallery.
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The kitchen has a gas stove (my preference) but no dishwasher so we bought a dish pan and drainer, as well as some rugs the dogs can’t hurt, and an iron — there’s always some weird thing you need and don’t think to bring, but that is actually a shorter than normal list. We’re getting good at this!

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The kitchen leads out to the private patio.

We’ll be spending A LOT of time out here once the weather warms up again. (It was 46 degrees this morning — exactly the same as in Boise. Sheesh!)

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We arrived on Saturday the 19th with just enough time to unpack the car, gussy ourselves up, and arrive on time at our friends’ son’s wedding — two blocks from where we’re staying. Best Wishes, Eileen and Kyle!

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This sojourn will be different from last year because we are a ferry ride away from our familiar hangouts, but I’m looking forward to getting to know our little neighborhood and it’s hot spots, like the tout de suite coffee house and cafe where I plan to become a regular.

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Hopefully my intrepid co-conspirator, Joy, will be willing to spend a little time on this side of the river too.

Cafe au Lait time!

Happy, happy, joy, Joy!

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The World is My Oyster

Our sojourn in New Orleans is over for now. We are back in Boise, and as usually happens to me when I travel and have a literal change of perspective, I’m in an entirely different “place” than I was when we left.

If you’ve been following my blog you have undoubtedly gathered how much New Orleans means to me and to Mike. How vital it is to our sense of being who we truly are as artists, as a family and as citizens of the world. It is our true “heart home,” the place we feel WE belong.

Don’t get me wrong, we love Boise too! It’s like Boise is our BFF, and New Orleans is our Soul Mate, and we believe we can have both. It’s just going to get a little complicated around here while we make that happen!

I know you have heard me muse on ways we are better using our house in Boise as our artists’ home — repurposing rooms as studio space,

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turning our former living room into a “gallery”

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and Logan’s former apartment into our new living room

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and studio space.

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That’s been done, and it absolutely works for us as it reflects the way we live now that we are empty nesters who also happen to be artists.

BUT…we want to have another home in New Orleans too, and we can’t do that and keep this house. So, our plan is to sell this house and buy two condos — one in Boise, and one in New Orleans.

We have bought and sold houses before, but there has never been a house I’ve loved as much — or have poured as much of myself into — as this house. It hurts physically to think about selling it, but no pain, no gain, right? My wish is that someone will fall in love with it the way I did and I can hand it over to them with a light heart.

Wish us luck as we embark on this next phase of our lives which I have dubbed “Bon Temps Le Boi.”

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Who says you can’t have your oysters raw, and chargrilled too?!

#Festooned Lagniappe

Only a couple of days left on our New Orleans Sojurn so I thought I’d wind up my posts with a lagniappe (a little something extra) of photos from my #Festooned series of Mardi Gras beads leftover after Carnival, many of which you can see on my Instagram account @sasiwasi….

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To bead, or not to bead? That’s never the question in New Orleans. Even after you’re dead, the beads goes on.

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Oysters and Poboys and Beignets, Oh My!

Or, how I ate New Orleans in two short months.

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As you’ve undoubtedly gathered from my posts, New Orleans is a place you come to eat. In fact it’s tradition here to discuss your plans for your next meal as you are eating the food in front of you.

If you couldn’t get excited about what to eat next you’d never get to that future meal because you are constantly full. Mind over matter baby — it’s the only way.

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(Lina demonstrating great discipline as she starts in on beignets at Cafe du Monde immediately following our muffuletta at Central Grocery.)

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I think of the food here as being divided into Traditional New Orleans Cuisine which includes Italian, Creole, and Southern Fried Seafood; International — lots of Vietnamese, but also Argentine, Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, and Chinese; and Local Neighborhood which is often a fusion of the Traditional New Orleans with the International. It’s all good.

(Lina and me at Rebecca Rebouche’s crawfish boil for her birthday. Oh, the crustaceans!)
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Here’s an idea of what, and where, we’ve eaten on this trip:

Traditional New Orleans Cuisine…

Casamento’s

Oysters of all kinds. Raw, char grilled, or Oyster loaf.
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All of the above are also wonderful at Katie’s where among other things we had the caramelized onion, arugula and brie flatbread:

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Katie’s is just down the street from Liuzza’s

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which is our favorite for fried pickles, red beans and rice, hot sausage poboys, or shrimp remoulade salad.

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Traditional New Orleans cuisine can be very casual like at Parkway Bakery and Tavern

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Or it can be fancy, like at Pascal’s Manale

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which serves the original New Orleans’ style BBQ Shrimp.

International Cuisine…

We ate delicious spicey beef pho at Pho Cam Ly, washed down with Vietnamese ice coffee of course:

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Terrific asado tacos with cebollitas at Taqueria Corona:

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Amazing garlic shrimp, lamb stew, and flan

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at Lola’s, a Spanish restaurant on Esplanade.

And terrific Middle Eastern food like the chicken shwarma and gyro platter

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at Babylon Cafe.

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Local Neighborhood Cuisine…

Probably my very favorite place to eat on this trip has been Butcher.

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I’ve been four times, and have taken, or sent all our out of town friends who’ve visited to eat there too.

I could live on the “Carolina” BBQ pulled pork topped with coleslaw with a side of their marinated roasted brussels sprouts. @#$@%&*@#$ it’s good!

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The Mint Modern Bistro is another place we just ate at recently which I’m already looking forward to returning to for their Kim Chi Burger and seasoned sweet potato fries.

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For breakfast our favorite Local Neighborhood place to go with our friends is Surrey’s. There are two locations, both on Magazine, one in the Lower Garden District and the other Uptown. This trip we’ve eaten three times at the Surrey’s Uptown location.

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It’s hard to beat their corned beef hash with two eggs over medium and a side of fruit.

And finally I guess I’ll have to add another segment for Coffee and Sweets which fit into every one of the larger categories above, like Cafe du Monde, and Morning Call which are both Traditional New Orleans Cuisine, for Cafe au Lait with Chicory, and beignets, 24 hours a day.

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Or Brocato’s

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and Sucre
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(that’s my Coconut Basil Gelato next to my Cafe au Lait).

And Croissant d’Or, (which is always closed on Tuesdays, and after 3:00 so plan accordingly), which all fit into the International category.

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Which leaves us with the Local Neighborhood Coffee and Sweets places which are legion.

I’d have to say the Cake Cafe in the Bywater is really, really good if you like cupcakes.

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And District Donuts on Magazine is no slouch when it comes to coffee and donuts.

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Honestly, I could go on and on. Since we’ve been in town we have gone to 51 different restaurants, 18 of them more than once! They’re all wonderful. I think I’ve had one “meh” meal the whole time we’ve been here and I’m not saying what it was because the next time we go it’ll probably be great.

Well, this post has taken me all day to compose. It’s worn me out, and you guessed it — really worked up my appetite! So until we eat again, remember what Luciano Pavarotti said: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

You heard the man.

Backstreet New Orleans Culture

Joy and I were out this afternoon, after having our second coffee at the Cake Cafe in the Bywater, when she decided to give me an impromptu tour of the Treme, and as we cruised around she remembered we had yet to get to the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

As you may recall, our time here is running out, so no time like the present!

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We were met at the door by Sylvester Francis the man who started all this in 1988 when he began displaying his photos and Mardi Gras Indian memorabilia in his garage in the Treme.

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Since then his collection, and the interest and support in and of it, have grown to where it is now housed in the former Blandin Undertaking Co.

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Mardi Gras Indian costumes are impressive when you know nothing about them, but when you understand that each takes a year to hand sew and bead, that they weigh 90 to 120 lbs each, and that they are worn all day in all weather — including hot, muggy temps — then they jump from impressive, to awesome.

Mardi Gras Indians mask in either the Native American style…

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Or in the African Warrior style…

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Either way, they are nothing to mess with…

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and definitely deserving of our admiration and respect.

See ya later, alligator!

Art We’ve Seen Part 2

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There is some form of visual art pretty much everywhere you look in New Orleans. From huge murals on the sides of hotels, to random sculptures outside snoball shops.

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There is a lot of public art throughout the city, and along the riverfront.

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There are wonderful museums dedicated to art of all kinds: Classical, Contemporary, Southern, and African American. I’ve walked through the Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art three times. It’s always beautiful.

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And there are the parts of town where galleries are concentrated like Royal St. in the French Quarter and Julia St. in the Warehouse District, both of which I told you about in Part 1.

A third area which we’ve spent a lot of time in is Magazine St. which runs from the Lower Garden District to Audubon Park. There are tons of little shops, restaurants, galleries, antique shops, and boutiques, interspersed with homes, up and down its entire length.

The Carol Robinson Gallery, where Mike shows, is on Magazine and Napoleon. We attended her “Artists of Faith” Opening and this piece titled “The Golden Boat” by Michael Yankowski was one of my favorites.

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Carol represents a number of artists who work in a variety of disciplines — painting, ceramics, fine wood sculpture, jewelry and photography — and she hangs new shows all year, except possibly in the summer when things slooowww dooowwwn, alot!

Well, YOU try hanging art in 95 degrees and 100% humidity!

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The first Saturday of every month is the time when new shows open. We attended the March openings on Magazine and after going to Carol’s we went to Cole Pratt Gallery which had some interesting work, badly curated and arranged (in my opinion), which just made me want to get out of there before I created a scene and started rehanging everything.

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Wouldn’t it have been funny if I’d just gone for it, and had gotten arrested!

ARTIST ARRESTED FOR REHANGING EXHIBITION. SITES NOCCA “HOT EYE” TRAINING AS REASON SHOW READ AS “GIBBERISH.”
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We also went to the Guthrie Contemporary Gallery and enjoyed well displayed work by Susan Dory.

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These paintings are acrylic, and you can’t tell from my photos, but they look like encaustic. Really cool.

Another place on Magazine which is less gallery (though they do have paintings) and more beautifully arranged art objects — they refer to as bohemian luxury — is AKA STELLA GRAY.

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Every time I go in there I just want to move in and call it home. Of course it doesn’t hurt that there is often a sweet little French Bulldog named Poppy there to greet you!

And speaking of home, as you know by now, the Pied a Terre where we are staying is also home to Rebecca Rebouche’s atelier, The Beauty Shop. Rebecca is a painter, and her work shows up on dishes and linens and wallpaper murals for Anthropologie, but her individual paintings are also available for purchase.

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With any luck, the next time we’re here and I give you a tour of the visual arts scene in New Orleans — I’ll be including our home and studio space.

Well a girl can dream!

ART WE’VE SEEN Part 1

The time is truly flying by. We only have two more weeks in New Orleans, and next weekend we’re going to be in Florida visiting family, so it’s not even a full two weeks. I’m looking forward to being on the beach though, so no complaints.

I thought as we wind up our trip I’d do separate posts about the art we’ve seen, the food we’ve eaten, and throw in a lagniappe of my #Festooned photos just for fun.

First up: ART WE’VE SEEN

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There are three main parts of town focusing on art which we spent the most time in this visit. I have to add that there are “new” places which we didn’t get to this trip which are rising out of the reconstruction and a new generation of emerging artists doing their own thing. I hope to spend more time exploring those places next time.

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For the parts of town we did spend time in, there’s Royal St. in the French Quarter which has a lot of art meant to appeal to tourists, but is starting to have more individual local artists who are self supporting. The gallery scene is much stronger here than in Boise, but the call to “just do it” on your own is also alive and well.

Cathy Rose of the Lucky Rose Gallery is one of those artists on Royal St.

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Cathy was very encouraging and supportive about the idea of two more artists moving into the local art scene, and she even had suggestions about parts of town to consider where we could still afford live/work space.

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We also had a couple of conversations with Jim Pennington of Pennington Fine Art.

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Jim was generous as well with his encouragement and advice about returning to New Orleans for part of the year as working artists.

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Interestingly, we had seen Jim and his work in Savanna, GA a few years ago when he was there regrouping after Katrina. Small world, baby.

One of my favorite artist-run galleries on Royal St. is the Antieau Gallery which shows Chris Roberts Antieau’s gorgeous work.

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Antieau is a textile artist who does realistically detailed embroidery as well as appliqued “fabric paintings.”

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She is also the mother of Noah Antieau — who runs The Red Truck Gallery — the first gallery I looked at and thought might be a fit for my tarps (if only they were a wee bit smaller, or the gallery was a crapton bigger).

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Julia St. in the Warehouse District is a well known part of town with a number of good galleries. We spent a couple of different afternoons there on our own, and with friends visiting from New York (holler, John and Hiromi!).

The Arthur Roger Gallery is a long standing favorite. I thought the current show of work by Amer Kobaslija of paintings of birds’ eye views of artist’s studios was appropriate to our current quest.

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We also saw work at boyd/satellite gallery and talked to Blake Boyd. Blake shows his own work at the gallery, but the work currently on exhibition is by Errol Barron and is titled “rigged.”

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Another gallery on Julia St., the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery has a show of giant matchbook covers by Skylar Fein.

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The show cracked me up because our metaphor for doing anything but what we’re supposed to be doing is “reading matchbook covers.”

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There are several other galleries on Julia St. that we spent time in which I’m not going to get to this time, but I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention George Schmidt and his eponymous gallery.

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George is a real character and a true Renaissance Man. In addition to being a painter and printmaker, he’s a musician. We saw him play banjo and sing with the New Leviathan Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra at the Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago. What a hoot!

I’m afraid both my iPad and I are running out of juice, so I think I’ll stop here for now and continue in ART WE’VE SEEN Part 2 very soon.

Stay tuned!

NOLA Til Ya Die

In many of New Orleans’ neighborhoods there are “Cities of the Dead.”

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Because most of New Orleans is near, or below sea-level, the dead aren’t buried in the ground but instead are interred above ground in crypts and mausoleums which look like rows of little houses.

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St. Louis Cemetery #3 on Esplanade is one of the prettiest.

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Families maintain the crypts, and decorate them with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and in a variety of styles…

Minimal, but festive:

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Homely, just like Mamaw’s house:

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Forever floral:

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I’m not quite sure what it is that I like so much about having these cities of dead right in the middle of everything. Maybe it’s that their residents aren’t forgotten. They’re still with us every day. Still invited to the party.

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And they are a reminder to appreciate what we’ve got till it’s gone and we’ve moved on to whatever comes next.

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Which in New Orleans means one more reason to celebrate, and just moving on to the next party anyway!

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