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New Orleans Sojourn

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

By New Orleans Sojourn

It is POURING rain today.

So, Joy and I have decided not to try our luck out and about as we had planned to do, but to stick close to our respective arks instead.

Noah's Ark -- googled image

No problem. Instead of heading out on a new adventure, I guess I’ll share some photos with you from last week’s adventures.

Zack Smith --French Quarter Fest 2016

French Quarter Fest dominated our weekend.

Zack Smith, the Official FQF Photographer, took these terrific photos of several of the horn players who performed at the festival. You can see all of his FQF photos here on his blog.

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

Mike’s and my favorite French Quarter Festival photo by Zack Smith is this one…

Zack Smith Photography -- French Quarter Fest 2016

which we will soon be adding to our art collection. Thank you, Zack!

Last week we were lucky to catch the tail end of the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane exhibition of Kate Clark‘s “Mysterious Presence.”

Dana viewing Kate Clark exhibition

Kate Clark's "Choosing Her Words"
“Choosing Her Words”

Kate Clark's "Ceremony"

Kate Clark's "She Gets What She Wants"
“She Gets What She Wants”

Kate Clark's "Fortitude"

Kate Clark's "Galant"

Kate Clark's "Preoccupied"

Across the hall from the Kate Clark exhibition was the Andrea Dezso exhibition “I Wonder.”

Dezso is a multimedia artist working with embroidery, illustration, ceramics, pencil and marker drawings, and tunnel books. I absolutely relate to her approach, described in the catalog of her work as “revisiting traditional ‘female’ applied arts in an often irreverent and humorous manner.”

Andrea Dezso, Embroidery
“My Mother Claimed…” Embroidery

Andrea Dezso, Brother's Grimm illustration
“Brothers Grimm Complete First Edition” Illustration

Andrea Dezso, Embroidery
“My Mother Claimed…” Embroidery

Andrea Dezso, Brothers Grimm illustration
“Brothers Grimm Complete First Edition” Ilustration

Andrea Dezso, Ceramics
“Sketchbook Plate” Ceramics

Andrea Dezso, detail of "All the Beings"
“All the Beings” Detail of Pencil and Marker Drawing

Andrea Dezso, detail of "All the Beings"
“All the Beings” Detail of Pencil and Marker Drawing

Andrea Dezso, detail of "Krewe of Intergalactic Women Travelers Reach a Cave in Outer Space"
“Krewe of Intergalactic Women Travelers Reach a Cave in Outer Space” Tunnel Book

Melissa "Sasi" Chambers posing with Andrea Dezso's Tunnel Book
“Krewe of Intergalactic Women…” Tunnel Book

Ok rain. Go away. I’m ready to adventure another day!

It’s Always a Wild Rumpus in NOLA

By New Orleans Sojourn

I am pretty sure there is a celebration of something, of some sort going on in New Orleans every day of the year. Any holiday you can think of is celebrated to excess — often with parades which include holiday appropriate throws (carrots, along with the ubiquitous beads in the Easter parade, and cabbages on St. Patrick’s Day). As well as any number of festivals highlighting the music, the food, and the art of New Orleans and Louisiana — usually all at the same time.

It’s a year round non-stop Wild Rumpus.

Zack Smith photo from French Quarter Fest

This past weekend it was French Quarter Festival featuring a ridiculous 23 stages, 1,700 musicians, and 400 hours of live music — all for free.

There was a ton of food and drink too — not for free. That would be ridiculous!

Living only a short ferry ride away from the French Quarter made going to this year’s festival a no-brainier. We wandered all along the Riverfront and into the Quarter winding up as we so often do on Royal Street — which was packed with people enjoying the music,

Royal Street during French Quarter Fest

and the creative buskers — like the very talented painting puppet….

Sasi with Ed Moseley at FQF

We found our friend Ed (Joy’s husband) on Royal Street too. (Ed attended all four days of FQF from start to finish. That is serious dedication.)

Mike and I were more FQF fair weather friends, only going on Saturday and Sunday, which left us time to head to a less crowded part of town for dinner Saturday night at the High Hat Cafe. (Catfish for Mike, Pimento Cheese Burger for me, both with the green beans and applewood smoked bacon. Oh yeah.)

Dinner at High Hat in New Orleans

Then, on Sunday morning when we returned to the fest, we had another one of those serendipitous NOLA OMG moments.

Mike found a cell phone.

I won’t bore you with all the steps we took to determine who the phone belonged to, until we managed to find its owner (…look up Favorites…call “Dad”…find out phone belongs to Zack Smith, a photographer…find security guard to help us find the Headquarters tent…yada yada yada) — but once we did find Zack, and return his phone, and he realized he hadn’t just left it in the Headquarters tent to begin with, but that we had found it and were returning it to him he gave us his card with a big smile and said “Email me, I owe you!”

Zack doesn’t owe us a thing — though we are hoping he’ll come to Mike’s Opening in May — because…and this is the part I love…Zach Smith is not just a photographer, he’s the Official Photographer for French Quarter Fest (he took the photo at the very top of this post) and, if you visit his website you will see that he has a project called “My Louisiana Muse” featuring artists of many stripes. He’s also taken some wonderful portraits of the local talent, including one of my favorites who you will remember from last year, Rebecca Rebouche.

Portrait of Rebecca Rebouche by Zack Smith

I love these constant reminders of how small this world really is, and especially of how closely we are all connected.

Kate Clark's "She Gets What She Wants"  with Melissa "Sasi" Chambers
(That’s me with Kate Clark’s “She Gets What She Wants.”)

Let the Wild Rumpus continue!

And Another Week Down…

By New Orleans Sojourn

Time flies. Even when you’re not “having fun.” Which is not to say we are NOT having fun, we are, but we are also just living “normal” life, which believe it or not is about work, and laundry, and “making groceries,” even in New Orleans where your work schedule may vary.

Melissa Chambers by the Daigle Grocery hours sign

I do love having the luxury of two months here though because we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything when we have days like Friday which we spent keeping cosy and dry in our little hideaway.


The day before the deluge I’d taken the ferry across the Mississippi to the foot of canal:

Riding the ferry to the foot of canal

and hung out with Joy — having “True Blood” juice at the Canal Street Bistro:

True Blood juice at Canal St. Bistro

and coffee at Monkey Monkey Coffee & Tea.

Painting at Monkey Monkey Coffee & Tea in New Orleans

The sun came out again for the weekend, just in time for First Saturday. First Saturdays in New Orleans are like First Thursdays in Boise, with art walks in all the gallery districts and many openings of new exhibitions. (Well, Boise X 1,000.)

We spent our evening in the Warehouse District on Julia St., and as the storm of synchronicity which keeps raining down on me would have it, Karen Bubb and Rachel Reichart (of Boise City Department of Arts & History fame) were in town too. So we visited the galleries together.

Karen Bubb and Melissa "Sasi" Chambers together in New Orleans

Here’s a little of what we saw at the Arthur Roger Gallery:

Viewing art at Arthur Roger Gallery

Mike viewing a Chihuly @ Arthur Roger

Art at Arthur Roger

But my favorites were the amazing embroidered portraits “Friends & Neighbors” by Gina Phillips at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery:

Melissa Chambers talking to model for embroidered artwork behind her

Artwork and model at Jonathan Ferrara gallery

Portrait model at <a href=

It would seem that little dogs showing up with their people at art galleries and openings, and even in the artwork itself is the new thang round here.


Are you ready for your close-up?

Lula, ready for her close-up

One Week Down the Hatch

By New Orleans Sojourn

Dozen oysters at Casamentos

An entire week of “normal” life in New Orleans has already been gobbled up.

Kinda like the oysters I enjoyed at Casamentos on Saturday.

Half dozen oysters eaten at Casamentos

It took no time at all falling back into our NOLA routine — meaning getting back to eating all that great food we’ve been missing for the past year.

We’ve had muffalettas from Central Grocery.

Central Grocery in New Orleans

Central Grocery muffaletta

And char grilled oysters (in addition to those raw bad boys pictured above) at Casamentos.

Char grilled oysters at Casamentos

And yesterday for Easter we went to the Napoleon House for Pimm’s Cups and Reuben Sandwiches. According to Joy, New Orleans actually makes some crazy good Reuben’s and we intend to taste test as many as humanly possible.

Reuben's and Pimm's Cups at Napoleon House

View of courtyard at Napoleon House in New Orleans
(We sat in the two red chairs at the right end of the long table in that picture.)

Now that you know we aren’t starving you’re probably interested in what’s been happening art-wise.


Mike’s “Annunciation” painting was featured in an exhibition and concert on Maundy Thursday at the Marigny Opera House.

Mike Chambers "Annunciation" at Marigny Opera House
(That’s his “Annunciation” on the far right. By the way, it has already sold!)

We’ve been by the Carol Robbinson Gallery, where Mike will have his solo show in May, and we’ve already visited several of our (other) favorite galleries, and I have had one of those crazy-there-IS-a-God-because-I’ve-just-been-slapped-up-side-the-head-by-the-Universe moments related to my most favorite gallery in New Orleans, the Red Truck Gallery.

Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans

You may remember that last year in my quest to find a gallery in New Orleans which would show my tarpestries, I was directed to Red Truck. I won’t bore you with all the details, but it turned into (I thought at the time) a dead end as I was never able to connect with Noah Antieau, the Red Truck big guy.

So we returned to Boise, only slightly dejected, and I went into Tarpestry Overdrive, had my solo show, etc., etc., and have had so much new work generated by my Boise opportunities that I decided this trip to New Orleans would be about getting rested and reinvigorated and ready to jump back into another session of Overdrive in 2016. To be more specific, I didn’t bring any of my tarpestries with me this time because I wasn’t planning on shopping them around. You know that saying — We make plans, and God laughs? Yep.

Meanwhile Red Truck was featured in the latest issue of JUXTZPOZ(an art magazine we subscribe to), and this is important because Mike was wearing his JUXTAPOZ t-shirt as he and I were walking through the French Quarter, and this really tall man points at Mike’s t-shirt and says “JUXTAPOZ is a great magazine. They just did a feature on my gallery!” And Mike says “Oh yeah? What’s the name of your gallery?” And tall man says “Red Truck.” Yep. The tall man was Noah Antieau.

Then Mike says (for my benefit of course, being a bit of a button pusher) “So, if someone wanted to get their work into your gallery what would they need to do?” And Noah starts to say the usual stuff we’ve all heard a hundred times (knowing Noah’s been asked that question a Zillion times) and then Mike says, pointing at me, “She already did that!” Where upon I rush in to introduce myself and begin to describe my tarpestries, and Noah says “Oh my god, I love your work, and I remember you contacting me — but literally right at that time I fell through the cracks because I was headed back to San Francisco, where I spend most of my time now.”

So then, because at this point everything was moving in that slow motion that happens when you need to have all your wits about you — like when your car has just plunged off the bridge and the river is rushing up at you — I said, with just a hint of petulance “So? What am I supposed to do now?”

And Noah says “If you’re interested in Red Truck, talk to Gabe. If you’re interested in San Fransciso, talk to me. But if you want to show your work in New Orleans, Gabe’s the big guy.” And then, as swiftly as he had appeared, he disappeared again.

Meet Gabe.
And Boo.

Melissa "Sasi" Chambers, Gabe Shaffer and Boo, at Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans

Let the talking begin!

Our 2nd New Orleans Sojourn Begins!

By New Orleans Sojourn

We’re finally here!


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.


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


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.



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.

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!


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!)


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!


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.


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!