NOMA Honors Chef Leah Chase with an Exhibition of Paintings Capturing Her Lifelong Dedication to the Culinary Arts

Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III on view April 24 – Sept. 9

In celebration of Chef Leah Chase’s longstanding contributions to the city of New Orleans, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) will present an exhibition of 20 paintings that capture Chase at work in the kitchen of her restaurant, Dooky Chase’s. The series, painted by New Orleans raised Gustave Blache III, provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse into Chase’s restaurant business, depicting her stirring culinary concoctions, ordering supplies, and greeting restaurant guests.

Leah Chase: Paintings by Gustave Blache III, is on view from April 24-September 9, 2012, on NOMA’s second floor Louisiana Galleries. The exhibition is sponsored by Richard C. Colton Jr. and Liberty Bank and Trust.

“New Orleans is known for our unique combination of culinary and visual arts,” said Director Susan M. Taylor. “We are proud to honor Chef Leah Chase, a cultural force within this exceptional city and Gustave Blache, who has been inspired by Chase and New Orleans.”

Chase is a pillar of the New Orleans community, having contributed in countless ways to the cultural fabric of the city. A talented and tireless chef, Chase began working at Dooky Chase’s after her 1945 marriage to Dooky Chase Jr., the son of the original owner. During the Civil Rights Movement, the restaurant was renowned as a gathering place for civil rights activists and community leaders. Famed for both her expertise in the kitchen and a lifelong advocacy of the arts, particularly by African American artists, Chase is an honorary lifetime trustee of NOMA.

Blache spent countless hours sketching and photographing Chase at her restaurant, capturing the intimate moments that form the subject of his finished portraits. The exhibition provides an authentic view into Chase’s life’s work. Cutting Squash, featured in the exhibition, was recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery.

“The images captured in the Chase series depict the less glamorous – but essential -aspects of the restaurant business,” says curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Miranda Lash. “Wearing her signature pink cap, you see Leah cutting vegetables, pouring oysters, even washing dishes. The process of cooking is elevated to its rightful status, as a work of art itself. ”

*About the Leah Chase Gala*
Leah’s son Edgar Chase and New Orleans restaurateur and proprietor of Café NOMA Ralph Brennan will co-chair a gala honoring Chase’s legacy at NOMA. The event features a preview of the exhibition and the inauguration of the Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund for the acquisition of works of art by African American artists.

The Leah Chase Gala is on Monday, April 23 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets start at $75 and are no longer available.

Listen to an interview with Chef Leah Chase and Poppy Tooker on WWNO’s Louisiana Eats

Leah Cutting Squash

Gustave Blache III

Dining Room (Leah Seated with Guests)

Gustave Blache III

Transferring Squash

Gustave Blache III

Leah Seated Red Coat

Gustave Blache III