Cultural Collage: ‘Views From New Orleans’ Art Work Featured In Covington

By Kathleen DesHotel | The New Orleans Advocate

This article originally appeared here

In New Orleans, a person can buy a dozen oysters on the half shell or second-line with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. In Covington, art appreciators can view one dozen beautiful works that exemplify the culture, spirit, tradition or geography of greater New Orleans.

At the second annual Art Stroll to celebrate artists, the St. Tammany Art Association featured “Views from New Orleans: Selections from the New Orleans Museum of Art.” In this fifth annual collaboration between STAA and NOMA, 12 artworks were exhibited through the generous support of NOMA and Gulf Coast Bank & Trust.

Art works included featured works by well-known regional and national artists and represented the visual uniqueness of New Orleans. To kick off the evening, STAA President Reggie Badeaux spoke of his appreciation for the beautiful art from theNOMA permanent collection and of his gratitude for all who helped make this evening a reality.

Tracy Kennan, from NOMA, then spoke of the reason for the art chosen to be included and invited everyone to come to the gallery talk led by curator Alice Yelen Gitter. She said, “Through cityscapes, cultural scenes and landscapes these artists invite the viewer to ponder the distinguishing features that define New Orleans.”

The paintings on display were as varied as the people of New Orleans. Each painting taps into a part of the environment. For instance, among the contemporary works, two expressed in photorealism, “All Saints Day” by Shirley Rabé Massinter and “Orleans” by Davis Cone, give details that are more realistic than a photograph.

Rabé Massinter captures graves covered with fresh flowers in the Catholic tradition displayed on Nov. 1 with visits to pay respect to the deceased. The gray tombs play backdrop to the brilliantly colored and detailed flowers in a juxtaposition of life and death in hyperrealism.

Cone studies architectural features of the Saenger Theatre’s façade on Rampart Street. He is a preservationist of a bygone era, considering them nostalgic parlors of romance.

In “Cypress,” Simon Gunning, who lives in New Orleans but is from Sydney, Australia, a swamp scene designates local beauty in a landscape. He feels that the Australian bush and the Louisiana swamp share a sense of the hostile and beautiful as he arranges a division of reality and its reflection.

Two water scenes capture the landscape in colorful visions. “Rigolets” by Wayne Gonzales creates a memory of the Rigolets in dots ranging from darker bright green to lighter green dots on various yellows and greens in the background. Gonzales believes that his work is neither entirely representational nor abstract. Rather, it depends on the viewer’s visual relationship to it. From a distance it forms a clear image; close up it is an enticing series of colorful yellow and green dots.

The other water scene, “Rivers and Clouds,” is a printlike landscape image of Jefferson Island. Each of the many clouds in the same colors of grays outlined in black hover over the distinctly defined land of winding rivers and green vegetation also outlined in black. In a unique presentation using repeating shapes within the pattern, he emphasizes a synergistic relationship of elements in the environment.

In a soft acrylic on canvas expression, William B. Crowell brings us on a spiritual, sunny day streetcar ride. He memorized this image for later painting and gave it a title to match his experience: “Vision After the Sermon.” In the true New Orleans tradition of sharing what we have, he received 10 cases of rice as payment for a painting of Louis Armstrong, and donated it to the Ozanam Inn homeless shelter.

The well-known image of a main thoroughfare of the city is captured in oil by Gideon Townsend Stanton. “Rainy Night, Canal Street, New Orleans” depicts architecture of iconic hotels like Hotel New Orleans, Jung Hotel and the Lowes lined by shiny wet streets that people with umbrellas wait to cross.

In 1935, Stanton became the first state director of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. He was dedicated to bringing art into the daily lives of Americans and providing work for artists.

Dedicated to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, “We Will Rise Again,” painted by George Rodrigue in 2005, presents the familiar blue dog. It was created to raise funds for his Art Campaign for Recovery. From the five-part series, he raised $2.5 million. The Blue Dog is recognized worldwide, but locally, he is especially memorable in this painting keeping his head above water with the American flag and Red Cross supporting him.

New Orleans is more than just a Southern city; it is an intense conglomerate of spiritual beliefs, sensible and not-so-sensible traditions, with its own way to celebrate, join, enjoy the environment, and respect life and death. This is captured ably in the current exhibition, compliments of NOMA, at STAA on 320 Columbia Street in Covington until Oct. 25.

For information, call STAA Executive Director Cindy Pulling at (985) 892-8650.

Kathleen DesHotel writes about the cultural arts in St. Tammany. To reach her, email