another show, another trip to NOLA

I decided to go to the Push Pin Show, basically because I will use any excuse to spend time in New Orleans. There are things I love about the country, but it’s also nice to recharge my batteries in a more liberal environment. Saturday evening was hot and humid, but a cold front moved in that night, making Sunday quite pleasant: temps in the low 80s, a slight breeze, and LOW HUMIDITY.

A push pin show is just what it sounds like. I didn’t want to be greedy, so I only brought 2 photos along. I had bought some pre-cut mats at Michael’s, but the sizes were wonky and I didn’t like the way they looked, so I opted to just tack ’em to the wall (which is what most other people were doing, anyway). The pins aren’t going through the actual image, since I have a white border, so if/when they’re matted it won’t show anyway. I also added one of my business cards, which has the address of my Etsy shop and my Facebook page, among other info. I have a couple of new “likes”, so clearly that was a good idea.

This dog was just cold chillin’ at the gallery.

This trip I decided I wanted to explore a little bit of the Bywater neighborhood, which is where the HomeSpace Gallery is located. I saw a bit of it last year, when we had a photo meetup in the Marigny–the 2 neighborhoods sort of bleed together–and went to a tintyping demo at the gallery. It’s a sort of working class/boho artistic neighborhood–I read an article in a NYC publication that compared it to Red Hook, which I found fitting. It reminded me of Lincoln Heights, the Los Angeles neighborhood where my sister and brother-in-law live: you get a sense that this a real place where real people actually live, and not some tourist playground.

I decided to pass up the free hotel breakfast on Sunday morning in favor of something actually worth paying for. Elizabeth’s is at the end of Gallier Street, a residential street, and it’s in a converted, 100-year-old house. I had the duck waffle: duck and sweet potato hash with a well of pepper jelly, served on a cornbread waffle. And I couldn’t resist a side of praline bacon, their specialty. (You could tell who was from Louisiana and who was there from somewhere else for the Saints season opener by listening to them order it: in Louisiana you pronounce it “prah-leen”, but everyone else says “pray-leen”.) It was all ridiculously delicious of course, in addition to being enough food for two people, and the service was fast and friendly. The ‘rents are going to NOLA this weekend for a medical convention, and I told Mom they HAVE to eat here while they’re in the city.

In my ongoing quest to photograph every cemetery in the city (I could live to be 100 and still fail at that goal), I went to St. Roch. There’s a chapel dedicated to the titular saint, who Catholic residents prayed to during the cholera and yellow fever epidemics of the 18th and 19th centuries, right in the middle of it. And I’d read there’s a strange little grotto tacked onto the side, filled with medical braces, cast-off prostheses, and even body part casts. They’ve been left by people who believe they were cured by intercession of the saint. It was (Firefly nerd alert!) morbid and creepifying, but really interesting (and photogenic!). And I literally stumbled over another photographer as I was leaving the chapel (he was lying on the ground), so clearly a popular spot.

(I’ve been thinking NOLA cemeteries or Louisiana cemeteries or maybe just rural cemeteries would be a good photobook idea, but I also feel like it’s been done. Opinions?)

A note: St. Roch is supposedly a bad neighborhood, but it seemed quiet and peaceful while I was there. It was a Sunday morning, I imagine not much crime goes down on Sunday mornings. As in any allegedly “bad” neighborhood, use basic common sense (be aware of your surroundings, don’t flash your equipment or carry lots of cash or wear loud clothing) and you’ll be fine.

I had wanted to go to Conrad’s Store, a funky thrift store on St. Claude’s (down the street from Island of Salvation Botanica, where I’ve been a couple of times), but they never opened. I suspect Conrad preferred to stay home and watch the Saints game. Maybe I’ll try again next month when I pick up the photos.

So instead I went to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (which is on Camp Street downtown and not in the Bywater). I had an ulterior motive: the next NOPA show will be displayed there during PhotoNOLA, and I’m probably going to make a submission. They have a couple of great photo exhibits right now, and I recognized the names (and work) of some of my fellow NOPA members: Sesthasak Boonchai’s Broken Flowers and a Heidi Kirkpatrick piece that was donated by Peter Buck.

I came across this painting on the 5th floor, and it was a deeply surreal moment because I know exactly where that is: it’s the corner of St. Mary and Sophie Wright, and it’s a few doors down from the NOPA gallery. I went into that bar the night the member’s exhibit opened–the first time I ever had a photo in an exhibit, unless you count school exhibits (and I don’t)–and ordered a whiskey sour. Is there a word for the feeling of unreality you get when you see a location that you know first-hand portrayed in art? The Germans probably have some 7-syllable word for it.

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