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

New Orleans, LA – 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 artist 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.

In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, NOMA will host a Gala on April 23 that will inaugurate the Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund and provide guests with a preview of the exhibition. The Leah Chase Art Purchase Fund is for the acquisition of artworks by African American artists for the museum’s permanent collection as outlined by the Chase family. In celebration of her culinary contributions to the community and beyond, Chase will cater the event.

“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 for the museum’s permanent collection. In celebration of her culinary contributions to the community and beyond, Chase will cater the event.

About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden:
The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses over 35,000 art objects encompassing 4,000 years of world art. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing temporary exhibitions, are on view in the Museum’s 46 galleries Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The adjacent Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by 62 artists, including several of the 20th century’s master sculptors. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. except for Fridays when it’s open until 8:45 p.m. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. For more information about NOMA, call (504) 658-4100 or visit