A Travellerspoint blog

New Orleans: art, architecture and curiosities

sunny 19 °C

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Art - in all its forms. Pretty much the credo by which New Orleans lives and breathes.

In addition to the dozens upon dozens of private galleries, and art-in-the-park displays, there are a number of significant public art galleries and museums. City Park, in mid-city New Orleans is home to MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art - a stately building with three floors set on several landscaped acres. Dave, Stephen and I wandered through for an hour and a half, and left after I pushed open the emergency exit and set off the alarm. (We were ready to leave anyway, and the security guard was understanding. I saw a sculpture outside that looked intriguing, and temporarily forgot to read)

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MOMA's front foyer, which provided a quiet respite for Stephen as he listened to a man playing a baby grand.

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This lake is one of many in the park - it serves as New Orleans' Central Park, with much to offer its citizens. We did not make it to the Sculpture Garden, much to our disappointment. It is located behind the museum - is quite incredible - but we were on to another appointment. We'll check it out again the next time. In the meantime - have a look. If you are in New Orleans, this is a must-see. And it's free. http://noma.org/pages/detail/35/Background

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I love serendipitous happenings - the spooky, inexplicable things that just occur. We were walking down the street, and I remarked to Laureen that I wanted to pick up a fresh copy of the festival schedule for a keepsake, as mine was dog-eared and wet. One minute later, a young woman walked by, handing out fresh copies of the festival schedules! Further along on our walk, I was telling everyone about artist Candy Chang's "Before I die, I want to..." project. I had read about it a few years ago, and was so intrigued by how it had taken off. After a friend died, Chang fell into a depression, and part of her healing was to share with others her hopes for her own life, by creating an interactive wall on an abandoned house in her neighbourhood. She wrote the words," Before I die, I want to -------------------------, and left crayons for others to fill in the blanks. The answers have been funny, sad, poignant and very touching, and hit an enormous nerve. There are now over 500 "Before I die " walls in over 70 countries. Here is the link to her site: http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/

So things got even spookier when we arrived at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and found a "Before I die" wall painted on the side. Crayons were lying on the ground, waiting for our inspiration. Here's what we wrote:

Dave wanted to meet his idol Bobbie D - (Bob Dylan). Apparently he will pay $10,000 to anyone who can make that happen.

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In the spirit of ongoing travel, Stephen hopes to continue discovery.

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Our travels through Mexico taught me I have little to fear. My goal is to stop worrying; a most pointless and life-robbing endeavor.

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Laureen wants to paddle to Tonga. News to everyone, including her husband!

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We turned the corner and spent a couple of hours in this southern-centric gallery. A most interesting and disturbing collection of images - Jerry Falwell-inspired evangelical sayings (painted on crosses), lush painterly landscapes and dark and sexually-ambiguous photography. Fans of "True Detective" would love this place.

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Many storefronts have images or names set in tile mosaic in front of their doors. This is just one example - there are hundreds.

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Even homeless individuals in New Orleans take a unique run at their situation. This is a collection of real signs that were collected and purchased for an art installation. "Too ugly to be a hooker. I tried." - you don't know whether to laugh or cry. We passed by a young man holding a sign that should be added to this collection," I'll bet you $1 you just read this sign." It made us smile, but we were caught in traffic, and had to keep driving - would love to have handed him a few bucks. Louisiana is a poor state, and New Orleans continues to struggle to keep its head above water - both literally and figuratively.

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Architecture - Municipal buildings are grand and mansions are antebellum. (Plantations are not that far away). To walk three blocks in the French Quarter is to crawl inside a Crayola box and come out the other side with columns, porches, shutters, curlicues, wrought iron, gas lamps, hanging baskets and window-boxes. You can't decide, so you take 'em all. In fact, there are several distinct styles, but they all go together.

A couple chatting on their Bourbon Street balcony; oblivious to the party below

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Examples of typical features - tall windows, doors and shutters to protect from the heat

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The city is filled with parks - little pocket parks, big riverside parks, City Park, Congo Square and Audubon Park. Even Esplanade Avenue provides shelter, with its live oaks and blocks-long pedestrian walkway.

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Curiosities. Some of the eccentricities, one-offs and steeped-in-history beliefs and behaviours that help to define New Orleans.

How could you not trust your pet with this vet?

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Sadly, guns still figure largely in New Orleans, and many citizens have formed ad hoc groups to try and combat armed robberies and shootings and provide opportunties to help youth find a way out of gangs. In the meantime, the Whitney Bank has posted this notice on their front door. (In addition to vetoing robberies, they don't want the bad guys to smoke)

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Voodoo, magic potions, witchcraft (even the Madonna for the more traditionally-inclined) - along with tarot card readings on every corner, there is something for everyone.

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The Natchez paddlewheeler takes tourists up the Mississippi...and back in time, several times a day.

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And now, it's over. We were on the road for 131 days, and drove over 20,000 kms. Our car handled it all well - no flat tires and no breakdowns, but it could use a good spit and polish. The same could be said for us. We travelled well (no breakdowns), but it's time to scrub up.

Writing this blog has added a great deal to our trip - thank you all for helping us keep our memories safely stored. Your comments and interest have meant more than you could know, and have really helped us feel connected to home, family and friends.

I'm writing this from the Days Inn in Port Angeles, WA. We'll be back on Gabriola mid-afternoon tomorrow. On our drive north from New Orleans we had two delightful diversions (dear friends) to help extend our trip. We stopped in Palm Springs to see Bey and Andy, and last night in Portland to see Peter and Ela. We have reached all our destinations safely, and now we are two ferry rides away from home. We're hoping for a soft landing.

btw - someone (let's call him Stephen) was pulled over today (second time) for speeding. Our kind officer Peskio let us off with a warning and wished us a safe trip. I burst into tears. It may be time to come home.

See you soon - Ginny & Stephen

Posted by millerburr 19:50 Archived in USA

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Comments

Thank you for inviting us into your adventure. We enjoyed seeing all the sites and the great comments. We are glad you had a safe trip.

by LeeAnn Burr

We, too, feel like crying but for a different reason. We have loved travelling along with you these past few months and will miss the two of you in our lives. However, we have no doubt, once you have reconnected with family and friends, indulged in a bit of "spit and polish" to use your words, and settled back into familiarity for a spell, the "urge" to travel will descend upon you once again. We look forward to when it does, albeit selfish, we know.

by Heather

Thanks for taking us along for the ride! Look forward to seeing you soon.
We are home and it is sunny and warm.
S&J

by Hawkson

It will be wonderful to see the two of you back on Gabriola! I have enjoyed travelling along with you immensely.

by Dona

I think we'll create a drink called "Spit and Polish" (minus the spit) in your honour. It's been a joy and a pleasure to read your blogs, Ginny. Thank you for taking us with you.

by Shelagh

All good things must come to an end, for a short while at least. Welcome home my friends, thanks for the great ride, the laughs, the tears, and the wise advice about not worrying so much, I shall take it to heart!
In the meantime, I am looking forward to the new "Spit and Polish" drink, let's brainstorm to decide which ingredients get into it!

by Laurence

Thanks for the adventure, and welcome home.

by Ron Davis

hey i wrote on that wall in january!!! i left two inscriptions- #1 i want to save a life before i die..#2 return to New Orleans. Travel safe you vagabonds.... miss you

by nanc

Does this mean you are now home? Oh weird, very weird. Weird for me so really really weird for you.
So now what else do you want to do before you die?
Nicola

by Nicola Ross

Weird does not begin to describe it. We're on Gabriola- tulips on the table, laundry done, mail read, and the hummingbird food made. But we're not home yet - minds going a mile a minute, the to-do lists adding up - the usual transition time.

To do before I die? Now that I'm not worrying, I will welcome all possibilities. It's exciting. We will always have a trip planned.

Missing the open road already.

by millerburr

What an exhilarating road trip that was! Thank you, Ginny and Steve, for taking me along with you...you know that I love road trips. I so enjoyed each and every post -- every insight and every photo.

Welcome home! We've missed you...

by Margy

Reading all your "chapters" was like reading a wonderful novel which one never wants to end! Glad you are both home safely! As you enjoy a few "Spit and Polishes", hopefully you will dream up your next adventure to take us on. Hugs, bey

by Bey

Thank you for sharing. I came home everyday hoping to see another blog so I could imagine being there. Welcome home - best thing is memories last a life time.

See you soon,
Di

by Diana Coryn

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