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Contents

F E B R U A RY 2 0 2 1

Events

Features

11

28 31 34

A CARNIVAL FOR THE AGES

Reverse parades, virtual throws, and porch parties galore

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VO LU M E 3 8 // I SS U E 2

REFLECTIONS Let Us Eat Cake! by James Fox-Smith

NEWS & NOTEWORTHIES

Tales of humans and their love for objects by Elizabeth Chubbuck Weinstein

THE LANGUAGE LIVES ON Cultural revitalization at Arnaudville’s Saint-Luc French Immersion Campus by Jonathan Olivier

The champions of the Crescent City’s historic bones by Matt A. Sheen

When we asked New Orleans artist Terrance Osborne if there was anything he felt particularly important he wanted to share with you for his “Perspectives” profile on page 54, he told us, “People should do what they love…Because if you’re doing what you love, then you’re happy. And then you push that out to the world, and other people get to enjoy what you’re doing.” A former teacher who since Hurricane Katrina has found success as a full-time artist, Osborne understands the importance of people embracing their passions—that’s part of why we featured his painting “Madame NOLA” on the cover of our “People and Their Passions Issue”. This issue is full of passionate people already embracing Osborne’s advice. From avid collectors, to preservationists of buildings and languages, to Carnival artists so committed to Mardi Gras that they’ve turned houses into floats, we hope this issue will inspire you to more fully embrace your passion, whatever that may be. We also hope that it will encourage you to embrace the Carnival spirit, even if that means doing so from the safety of home.

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Sugary indulgence of the Carnival kind

42

by JoyWilson

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QUALITIES OF KUGELHOPF Maurice French Pastries’ famous Louisiana version of the European pastry by Lorin Gaudin

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THE SATSUMA LADY Orange delights off of Highway 24 by Jason Vowell

The River Road African American Museum remaines a pillar for Black perspectives and history in the region. by Ariel Baise

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WHEN CARS WERE AMERICA A poem from My Life in Cars

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The artful adventures of Kimberly Meadowlark by Lauren Heffker

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Q&A WITH SUSAN GOTTARDI Exploring the challenges of producing the Hilliard Art Museum’s first virtual exhibit by James Fox-Smith

Escapes

48

by Ed Ruzicka

SINGING LIKE A LARK

Arts & Entertainment Editor

MY, OH, MY MONROE A local’s travel guide to Northeast Louisiana by Mackenzie Treadwell Ernst

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Creative Director

Kourtney Zimmerman

Contributors:

Ariel Baise, Mackenzie Treadwell Ernst, Lorin Gaudin, Jonathan Olivier, Ed Ruzicka, Matt A. Sheen, Jason Vowell, Elizabeth Chubbuck Weinstein, Joy Wilson

Terrance Osborne

Cover by Terrance Osborne

BLACK HISTORY IN ASCENSION

Managing Editor

Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

Cover Artist

PEOPLE & THEIR PASSIONS

PULL-APART KING CAKE

Associate Publisher

Alexandra Kennon

THE PRESERVATIONISTS

Culture

James Fox-Smith Ashley Fox-Smith

On the Cover

Cuisine

Publisher

THE COLLECTING GENE

PERSPECTIVES Terrance Osborne: New Orleans Culture, Concentrated by Alexandra Kennon

Advertising

SALES@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM

Sales Team

Heather Gammill & Heather Gibbons

Custom Content Coordinator

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Advertising Coordinator

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President

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Country Roads Magazine 758 Saint Charles Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802 Phone (225) 343-3714 Fax (815) 550-2272 EDITORIAL@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM WWW.COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM

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Copyrighted. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Country Roads magazine are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products or services herein. Country Roads magazine retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Country Roads cannot be responsible for delays in subscription deliveries due to U.S. Post Office handling of third-class mail.


// F E B 2 1

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Reflections FROM THE PUBLISHER

S

itting down to write this column, it is late January: a time when the kaleidoscopic machinery of Mardi Gras would normally well-andtruly have started turning. This year, deprived of the chance to do most of the inadvisable things we normally do during Mardi Gras season, as a family we are choosing to double—or possibly triple—our king cake intake, instead. So, when the recent press release from Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser’s office appeared in my inbox with the breaking news— “Cannata’s has invented a new flavor of king cake!”—I pulled out my growing list. Apparently, the wizards at this old-line Houma bakery have conspired with the great-grandson of a Bayou Terrebonne moonshiner to produce a booze-inflected king cake made with local corn whiskey and filled with whiskey-soaked pecans. “There goes dry January,” I thought. Writing down “Cannata’s Ti Can Pecan whiskey cake,” I reconsidered the colorful, half-eaten, cream-cheese-

flavored number from Chalmette’s Nonna Randazzo’s bakery currently sitting on the kitchen counter. I like this king cake: plump, moist, and glazed with layers of cream cheese and some kind of sweet, lemony stuff, this was our family’s first Randazzo’s experiment, and it got high marks from all sides of the dinner table last night. We agreed that piling the cream cheese and other flavorings on top as a glaze was an effective substitute for squirting them inside the cake, and also enjoyed the fact that the baby was actually buried inside in traditional, chokinghazard fashion, as opposed to being perched abominably on top in some kind of concession to legal liability. In the absence of any other Mardi Gras distractions, I predict that the king cake bakers of Louisiana will have a banner year in 2021. We’re certainly planning to do our part. Other favorite king cakes we’ve tried so far include Gambino’s (Baton Rouge, Metairie, Lafayette) strawberry and cream-cheese-filled Danish pastry king cake; a luscious Galette des

Rois, a traditional French-style king cake made by Poupart’s in Lafayette; and from La Boulangerie bakery in New Orleans, a demented “Elvis” king cake filled with bananas and peanut butter and topped with toasted marshmallows and bacon bits, with a little pig inside instead of a baby. Others on the to-try list include Haydel’s pecan-praline king cake, Ambrosia Bakery’s Zulu king cake (coconut, cream cheese, chocolate icing), and Calandro’s new Royale Cookies king cake, with cookies & cream liquor and vodka in the drizzle to boot. And I’ve heard so many people speaking in hushed tones about the

two-filling king cakes from Meche’s Donut King in Lafayette that I am placing an order for a raspberry-creamcheese-and-lemon-filled number through their website at this very moment. I’m sure there are plenty more that we have yet to get acquainted with. Got a favorite? Let me know so we can add it to the list. In the meantime, I’ll be working out how to lay hands on one of those Ti Can Pecan whiskey king cakes from Cannata’s. In a year when the stark realities of a viral contagion have overwhelmed not only Mardi Gras, but all the festivals that bring people together the world over, preserving the spirit of celebration by letting ourselves eat cake seems the only reasonable thing to do. Dry January never stood much of a chance this year. Never mind; this time next month it’ll be Lent. On that note, I’m going find myself another slice of Nonna Randazzo’s. Happy Mardi Gras. —James Fox-Smith, publisher james@countryroadsmag.com

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Noteworthy

F E B R U A RY 2 0 2 1

N E W S , T I M E LY F A C T S , A N D O T H E R

CURIOSITIES

LO O K C LO S E R

W

Laissez les Bon Temps ... Pause? THIS ISN’T NEW ORLEANS’ FIRST MARDI GRAS WITHOUT PARADES, EVEN IF IT’S OURS.

S

ince the city of New Orleans announced that its annual Carnival parades would not roll this year, and other cities have followed suit in calling off their celebrations, the word “unprecedented” has been thrown around like a set of plastic beads. While a parade-less Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a rarity, it actually is quite precedented—it’s happened fourteen times since the Mystick Krewe of Comus rolled the first New Orleans Carnival parade in 1857, to be precise. Wars, strikes, and—you guessed it—epidemics have halted celebrations throughout the city’s history. Here is a run-down of historical instances of canceled parades, to remind us that while Fat Tuesday 2021 might not be in good company, it’s certainly in company. 1862–1865: Early in 1862, as the Civil War progressed and New Orleans feared Union occupation (which occurred that May), the Krewe of Comus canceled their Mardi Gras events due to “general anxiety”. By 1864 Union commanders had sanctioned Mardi Gras celebrations, but it is said that a cloud of melancholy hung over the festivities, despite Union-monitored newspapers indicating otherwise. 1875: An attempted insurrection known as the Battle of Liberty Place, led by a white supremacist/Confederate veteran group called the Crescent City White League, took place in the fall of 1874, and parades were called off the following year due to residual political unrest. 1879: The krewes of Comus and Momus canceled their parades because of a yellow fever epidemic that had killed over four thousand the year prior. (Rex still rolled on Mardi Gras day, however. At least they were masked?) 1918-1919: World War I was occasion enough to cancel all organized parades, then came the Spanish Flu in the winter of 1918. By 1919, even though the war had ended, New Orleans was still financially reeling, on top of being in the midst of an epidemic that claimed nearly 3,500 lives, so all parades and balls were canceled. 1942–1945: Less than a week after the United States entered World War 8

II in 1941, New Orleans officials announced that 1942 Carnival festivities were off. The only ball that year was to raise funds for the families of men who were enlisted. 1951: Despite the mayor at the time issuing a statement that there was no need to cancel, many of the more established krewes such as Rex, Comus, Proteus, and Momus chose not to hold festivities because of the Korean War. 1979: In 1978, the New Orleans Police Department clashed with the city's first Black mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial for a variety of reasons, including his hiring a new police superintendent from Birmingham rather than promoting from within, and his issuing a pay raise that took away sick days. When the police union demanded a pay raise that the mayor refused, N.O.P.D. went on strike, causing parades and festivities to be called off or relocated to the suburbs. There have been a few instances in the thirty-two years since when Mardi Gras parades were threatened but carried on regardless. In 1992, many took issue with the City Council’s anti-discrimination ordinance that required krewes to admit members regardless of race, nationality, etc., but only Comus ceased rolling parades entirely as a result, while Momus sat that year out, and Proteus took a sixyear hiatus. Many also thought that the city’s financial devastation following Hurricane Katrina would halt festivities in 2006, but a scaled-down Carnival celebration occurred, nonetheless. While canceled parades of course brings some sadness, history reminds us that sometimes fun must be put on hold for the sake of the greater good. It also reminds us that even if this Mardi Gras looks different, we can likely look forward to a bigger celebration than ever in 2022—and in the meantime, at least we still have king cake. Visit our calendar section on page 11 for a schedule of the many creative alternative celebrations being held this Mardi Gras season, including virtual parades, houses as floats, and a king cake recipe to try.

F E B 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M

—Alexandra Kennon

Life Raft

A CLIMATE CHANGE PODCAST THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE DROWNING YOURSELF

A

s a topic of conversation, climate change tends to be a bit of a bummer. Whatever you believe about the causes, it’s hard to ignore the increasingly dramatic impacts that rising sea levels, intensifying storms, and coastal erosion are visiting upon our low-lying, flood-prone part of the world. So, it’s a pleasure to climb aboard Life Raft—a New Orleansbased environmental podcast that begins with a caveat: “Climate change is scary; Life Raft is not.” Created by the public radio stations WWNO and WRKF with support from the Public Radio Exchange, Life Raft delivers a food-and-music-fueled exploration of climate change in the Gulf South, with coastal reporter Travis Lux and New Orleans comedian Lauren Malara as your guides. With help from a cast of neighborhood activists, scientists, restaurateurs, and oyster fishermen, Lux and Malara pull on face masks and white shrimp boots and wade into the surface-level realities of living with climate change, with a beer-in-hand,

whatcha-gonna-do attitude that will be instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the resilient spirit of storm-battered folks at home in their beloved South Louisiana. In half-hour episodes that drop every two weeks, Lux and Malara answer listener questions that reflect New Orleanians’ specific concerns about, and solutions to, living with climate change. Blending black humor with science, oysters, and the occasional daiquiri, episodes explore topics from the existential (“Is It Ever Gonna Be Too Hot to Live Here?”), to the gastronomical (“Have I Had My Last Good Oyster?”) to the solution-based (“How Can I Reduce Flooding In My Own Neighborhood?”). Along the way we get to know enough New Orleans barmen, writers, doctors, and performers to remind us that, while climate change is too vast a topic for any one of us to understand fully, how we respond to it, personally and locally, is still entirely up to us.

liferaftpod.org

—James Fox-Smith


Red Stick Reads

MEET THE COUPLE BEHIND MID CITY BATON ROUGE’S BOUTIQUE BOOKSTORE

W

hen James and Tere Hyfield set up their first Red Stick Reads pop-up at the 2019 White Light Night as part of the Mid City Maker’s Market, they were greeted by thick sheets of pouring rain. Brand new books they hadn’t even had the chance to sell yet were on the verge of being ruined. But, just when they were about to pack up, the storm stopped. The sky cleared, and people came out in droves for Baton Rouge’s biggest art event of the year. That early experience exemplifies how the local business has fared since; seemingly, against all odds, it’s working. Through the market, the husbandand-wife team acquired the Eugene Street office space last summer that now serves as the cozy current home for their boutique bookshop. Opening an indie bookstore during a pandemic is certainly not for the faint of heart, but the precise timing actually allowed them

Photo courtesy of Red Stick Reads

to overcome regular barriers of entry, as online retailers like Amazon experienced delivery issues and people stuck at home turned to books and puzzles for entertainment. “We were working against our better judgment, but everything that needed to appear in the moment that it needed to, did,” said Tere. “And so we kept taking the next step.” The couple couldn’t imagine a better place to be for long-term community involvement than Mid City. They envision their bookshop as a neighborhood hangout where people come to connect organically, and eventually, as pandemic restrictions ease, a café and event venue where they can host live music and other pop-up artists. “It’s about, hey, let’s visit for a while. Let’s catch up, let’s be human, let’s tell each other stories,” James said. “I’m hoping that this thing becomes almost like a public park for the local community.” To ensure people can bookbrowse

safely in their small space, Red Stick Reads is shop-byappointment for now. This one on one time allows James and Tere to interact with every guest who walks through their door, providing a particularly customer oriented shopping experience. “As a kid, I always loved the idea of being able to go to this bookstore, and the bookseller knew what my dad wanted before we got there and had a stack of books waiting for him,” James recalled. A Spanish school teacher by day, Tere specializes in children’s books and emphasizes curating a catalog for Red Stick Reads that’s as diverse as it is relevant. Both avid bookworms themselves, above all, they want to share their love of literature by getting books in

people’s hands. “The thought is that we want you to leave us with a book, whether you bought it from us or grabbed it for free out in that library, but we’re going to talk books with you no matter what. We just hope that if nothing else, that’s a relationship we can foster,” James said. “It’s just our love language,” Tere continued. “It really is. So the fact that we’re finding a way to make a living out of it is insane to us. It’s the dream.” redstickreads.com —Lauren Heffker

Wishes to Thank Our U.S. Military and Healthcare Professionals Free admission with proper ID • February 1 thru February 28, 2021

LOCATED AT BURDEN MUSEUM AND GARDENS OPEN DAILY 8:00–5:00 • I-10 AT ESSEN LANE, BATON ROUGE, LA FOR MORE INFO CALL (225) 765-2437 OR VISIT WWW.RURALLIFE.LSU.EDU // F E B 2 1

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cajun coast

Your outdoor family getaway!

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Mardi Gras Scavenger Hunt! February 4 –16

Fun for the entire family! Over 50 missions to complete to win prizes. Download Goose Chase App and get ready to begin your adventure. Terms and conditions at www.cajuncoast.com

(800) 256-2931 • www.cajuncoast.com 10

F E B 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M


Events

F E B R U A RY 2 0 2 1

PARADES WON’T ROLL THIS YEAR KING

CAKES WILL REIGN

BUT HOUSE

SUPREME

TO

KEEP

COUCH CARNIVAL

FLOATS, VIRTUAL PARADES, AND

THE

SPIRIT ALIVE

W

This year, Mardi Gras will take place in our homes, our hearts, and in art galleries, too. Gallery 600 Julia presents Gallery Gras, featuring Carnival-themed artworks by a variety of artists, such as this piece “Flambeaux” by Sean Randall. Courtesy of Gallery 600 Julia.

UNTIL FEB

7th

ART EXHIBITIONS LOUISIANA CONTEMPORARY New Orleans, Louisiana

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art has once again produced its statewide, juried exhibition, Louisiana Contemporary, curated for its ninth year by René Morales, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Chief Curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami. The comprehensive exhibit features fiftysix artists, commenting on everything from the trauma of the pandemic to the ongoing struggle for justice and reform; through the lens of their Louisiana culture. Morales has selected works submitted by Louisiana artists, choosing four award winners to receive further recognition. ogdenmuseum.org. k

UNTIL

FEB 10

th

GRAS ON THE GO MUSES STILOTTO New Orleans, Louisiana

It’s not quite the same as fighting through parade crowds for a sequinbedecked high heel, but the Krewe

of Muses is offering a fun opportunity to support local shops for the chance of scoring one of the most coveted shoes in NOLA. Just visit participating businesses, find or ask for the Muses placard, and scan the QR code with your phone. Each business will have one Stilotto winner, so the more businesses you visit, the better your chances of winning. Winners will be drawn on Muses T(hers)day on February 11, with drive-by shoe pickup at the Muses den on February 14. musesstilotto.com. k

UNTIL

FEB 12th

ART EXHIBITIONS PAUSE . . . ARTISTS RESPOND TO 2020 Alexandria, Louisiana

In a special six-week exhibition, the Alexandria Museum of Art has offered local artists the opportunity to respond creatively to the social unrest, economic recession, and global pandemic of 2020. Ref lecting the challenges present in our communities, the fifty-seven works exhibited express themes of fear,

isolation, and protest, as well as hope and faith. themuseum.org. k

UNTIL

FEB 12th

CARNIVAL ONLINE MARDI GRAS MASKERADE New Orleans, Louisiana

The Royal Sonesta, famous for their annual Greasing of the Poles to keep revelers from scaling the Bourbon Street building during Mardi Gras, is planning a week of pop-up events and contests to safely celebrate Carnival season from anywhere there’s WiFi. Some events will be live-streamed, including the Greasing of the Poles on February 12. sonesta.com. k

UNTIL

FEB 13th

ART EXHIBITIONS JOAN GRISWOLD New Orleans, Louisiana

See New York artist Joan Griswold’s evocative paintings, which depict environments and figures bathed in natural light. At the Cole Pratt Gallery from 10 am–5 pm. coleprattgallery.com. k // F E B 2 1

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Events

Beginning February 1

UNTIL FEB

14th

CARNIVAL ONLINE THROW ME SOMETHING BACCHUS Online

In place of its annual showstopping parade, the Krewe of Bacchus has released a safe and virtual way to live out your Carnival dreams through its new app, “Throw Me Something Bacchus.” Using the app, players can create an avatar and catch and collect virtual throws every Sunday during Carnival season. They can trade throws with other players, and even trade in select virtual throws for actual throws. On Bacchus Sunday, February 14, the app will allow participants to stream a virtual Bacchus parade, themed “From the Heart,” featuring appearances from Bacchus royalty. Catch 2021 throws while floats roll by, all against the Mardi Gras sounds of favorite parade bands. Creativity is the name of the game this year, and as one of New Orleans’ most popular extravaganzas, Bacchus has not disappointed. The app is available for download on Apple and Android devices in the App Store. Details can be found at facebook.com/bacchusneworleans. k

UNTIL FEB

ART EXHIBITIONS SOUTHBOUND: PHOTOGRAPHS OF AND ABOUT THE NEW SOUTH Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A photograph contains the power of alchemy: preserving a single moment in space and time. Fifty-six photographers turned their lenses to the people and landscapes of the modern American South, and the moments captured depict the region in all its complex, often-troubled beauty. Southerners have a strong sense of tradition and place even in the twenty-first century, which are captured in photographs in a multitude of ways that make up the exhibition, on display at LSU’s Museum of Art. Southbound was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, and is made possible in part by a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. LSU MoA Educator Grand Benoit will also be conducting live thirty-minute tours of this exhibition, among others, which can be booked at bit.ly/lsumoavirtualtour. k

The Northshore’s Krewe du Pooch understands the importance of including our favorite furry companions in this year’s unusual Mardi Gras festivities, and their creative solution is a dog-positive virtual 5k or fun run. Photo by K9 Photography, courtesy of Synergy Events and Marketing.

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UNTIL

FEB 16th

GRAS ON THE GO YARDI GRAS Online

Across the region, as Louisianans process the reality of a parade-less Mardi Gras this year, one can observe a collective shift from grief to acceptance, to determination. This will be a season of joie de vivre, yet! One creative approach to a (hopefully) atypical Mardi Gras at home has caught on all across the state: houses as floats. If we can’t go to Mardi Gras, well by God, Mardi Gras will come to us. In the same spirit of excess and extravagance when it comes to the artistry of floatdecorating, neighborhoods are getting makeovers straight out of storybooks— or maybe cartoons is a better way to describe it. Lights, glitter, giant embellished flowers and monsters and illusions of every kind. Some of these decorations are spontaneous, locals spreading the good old Carnival esprit in their neighborhoods. But some are deeply coordinated efforts, such as that of New Orleans’ Krewe of House Floats, created by Megan Boudreaux in what started as a joke on Twitter. The organization now boasts more than 7,500 members, making up thirty nine neighborhood subkrewes (including one made up of NOLA expats living outside of Louisiana), who are all organizing on Facebook to present an impressive parade of decked out homes all across New Orleans and beyond. The Krewe of House Floats map will be available to the public on February 1, perfect for a day of Mardi Gras driving/biking/ walking tours like nothing the city has seen before. For those interested in participating as a krewe member, it is too late to land a spot on the map—but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up your house. The Krewe of House Floats website (kreweofhousefloats.org) lists local businesses and artists who—largely out of work during this less-active carnival season—would be thrilled to add some sparkle to your float. The website hireamardigrasartist.com, organized by the Krewe of Red Beans, encourages donations to local float artists. Everyone who donates is eligible to be selected as a float for professional decoration! Every time $15,000 is raised, another house gets chosen. As of press, seventeen houses were funded! It’s not too late to participate, with a krewe or without one—hell, even if it’s just for yourself. A little sparkle goes a long way, and Mardi Gras magic has a way of turning things around, upside down, and filling them with a sense of silliness and joy much needed this winter. And if you can, hire an artist to help you out.  k

UNTIL FEB

16th

CARNIVAL ONLINE WE’RE GOING DOWN TO THE MARDI GRAS DOCUMENTARY Online

The Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival brings a virtual fest experience this year, in the form of the new documentary We’re Going Down to the Mardi Gras: The Making of Henry Turner Jr.’s Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival. The feature by Michele Barnes and Henry Turner Jr. is available for free streaming at Play2Fund until February 16. Suggested donation is $10. play2fund.com/evvent/were-goingdown-to-the-mardi-gras. k

UNTIL FEB

19th

ART AND THEATRE BEYOND THE PROSCENIUM Hammond, Louisiana

An entire world of artistry and craftsmanship goes into theatrical stage productions, which will be showcased in HRAC’s Beyond the Proscenium exhibition, in partnership with Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. Renderings of set and lighting design, puppetry, playbills, and costuming will all be displayed to give viewers an idea of what happens before the curtain opens. Opening reception in the Arts Center’s main gallery from 4 pm–8 pm. hammondarts.org. k

UNTIL FEB

20th

CARNIVAL ONLINE KREWE DU POOCH Online

Parade or no parade, you’ve still got to walk the dog. So, make it count! Join Krewe du Pooch in bringing a bit of Mardi Gras spirit to the season and supporting Northshore businesses and animal rescue organizations with their virtual “parade” this year, which will take place in the form of a 5K and fun run. Participants can complete their fun run (or walk) any time before February 20 from anywhere (celebrating Mardi Gras in Hawaii? Join us!), and with your pooch. Costumes encouraged! The Krewe will be cheering from the virtual bleachers, so be sure to share your progress on Facebook and Instagram. The event’s top five fundraisers will win gift cards to Varsity Sports, and all participants will receive a swag bag. Sign up or donate at krewedupooch.org. k

UNTIL FEB

21st

PUBLIC ART CITY IN THE GRASS Jackson, Mississippi

Southern-born, Brooklyn-NY-based artist Leonardo Drew utilizes mediums from sheet metal to sand in his towering, one// F E B 2 1

13


Events

Beginning February 1 - February 2

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hundred-foot long public art sculpture City in the Grass. Viewers are encouraged to engage with the work, as the artist does not view it as complete without active participants sitting, standing, and walking around the sculpture. Not only will viewers be awe-struck by its monumental scale, but the variation in texture and overall whimsy of the piece are sure to enchant. “A unique but intentional aspect of the sculpture is to inspire us to take time to look closely, slow down, and come out to play,” said Chief Curator Ryan Dennis. Free and open to the public during museum hours. msmuseumart.org. k

UNTIL FEB

ART EXHIBITIONS EXHIBITIONS AT LEMIEUX GALLERIES New Orleans, Louisiana

LeMieux Galleries is welcoming 2021 with two exhibitions of new works by Louisiana artists. In Louisiana Now, octogenarian artist Shirley Rabe Masinter presents glimpses of our state’s unique character through architecture, corner stores, bars, and shotguns—all painted and drawn in vivid, hyper-realist aesthetic. Kathryn Keller’s Beautiful Isolation features a selection of the prolific artist’s works made on Inglewood Farm in Alexandria, where she has lived in isolation throughout the pandemic. Keller’s dreamy interiors and landscapes take on new meaning in a world so impacted by distance. lemieuxgalleries.com. k

UNTIL FEB

28th

LOCAL HISTORY QUEEN ZULU: ROSE ROCHE OF PORT ALLEN Port Allen, Louisiana

In 1996, West Baton Rouge native and Cohn High School graduate Rose A. Lee Roche was crowned Queen of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club of New Orleans. This made Rose the first Queen of Zulu not originally from New Orleans. Now, her costumes, photographs, memorabilia, vintage coconuts and other throws, and more are on display at the West Baton Rogue Museum. westbatonrougemuseum.org. k

UNTIL FEB

8592 Hwy 1, Mansura, LA 800.833.4195 travelavoyelles.com

27th

28th

ART EXHIBITIONS ENTWINED: RITUAL WRAPPING AND BINDING IN CONTEMPORARY SOUTHERN ART New Orleans, Louisiana

Across history, various cultures— 14

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including Haitian Voudou, Appalachian broom-making, Calabrian silk production, Peruvian rope coiling, and Congo Nkisi—have built aesthetic and symbolic traditions around the ritual practice of wrapping and binding. In Entwined, contemporary artists engage with this tradition in various mediums and approaches. Through wrapping, painting, weaving, coiling, drawing, or knotting, each artists binds their own unique and thoroughly contemporary vision to this ancient, universal, and very human practice. The exhibit will feature works by: Friendswood Brooms, Jeffrey Cook, Sonya Yong James, Susan Jamison, Sharon Kopriva, Kristin Meyers, Susan Plum, Ashley Pridmore, Elizabeth Shannon, Ed Williford, and Sarah Zapata. View the exhibition virtually at ogdenmuseum.org. k

UNTIL

APR 16th

ART EXHIBITIONS FOR THE BIRDS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

2020 was a difficult year, but Southern Louisiana artist Chris Bergeron’s exhibition For the Birds reminds its viewer not to make life more difficult than it needs to be. Bergeron explores life from the perspective of a bird’s eye view through his colorful, textured multi media works in this solo exhibition at The Healthcare Gallery in Baton Rouge, which is also available for virtual perusal online at ellemnop.art/forthebirds. k

UNTIL

MAY 4th

WORKSHOPS & CLASSES ACTING CLASSES WITH JENCY Baton Rouge, Louisiana

If you’re not quite “ready for your closeup,” but interested in breaking into or better mastering the world of film acting, Eye Wander Photo is offering courses to hone your skills in front of the camera. Actress and photographer Jency Griffin Hogan will teach the classes, with a schedule as follows: Teen Acting Classes: Mondays, 6 pm–8 pm Private Lessons: Tuesdays and Friday daytime Adult Meisner Class and On-Camera Scene Study: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 pm–9 pm Acting Career Consultation/Business Coaching: Saturdays daytime eyewanderphoto.com. k


UNTIL JUN

30th

LOCAL HISTORY ACADIAN BROWN COTTON: THE FABRIC OF ACADIANA Lafayette, Louisiana

Coton jaune, or Acadian brown cotton, is one of the idiosyncratic regional heirlooms the Nova Scotian exiles inherited when they chose South Louisiana as their home. An important facet of the region’s agricultural, economic, and anthropological history, brown cotton’s relics are today being reconsidered as revered cultural totems, and in some cases works of art. A landmark exhibition synthesizing the crop’s inf luences from soil to craft to textiles, the Hilliard’s Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana is the most comprehensive project on the subject to date. Visitors will explore the genealogical value of passing craft from mother to daughter, and they will learn about the process of weaving and the economic conditions of the region that spurred a revitalization of brown cotton weaving over the last century. For the first time, The Hilliard has made this exhibition available virtually. Take a comprehensive tour of the virtual gallery space or learn with The Hilliard’s educators at hilliardmuseum.org. Read more about the revitalization of coton jaune traditions on page 31, and about the

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Hilliard’s experience producing the online exhibition on page 47. k

UNTIL

JUL 11th

ART & SCIENCE EXHIBITIONS EXPERIMENTAL LIGHT: ALYCE SIMON & EVA LEE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Alyce Simon and Eva Lee, connected via the scientific community and creative use of light, create wholly original, scienceinspired artworks that are now on display at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. Simon, who passed in 2011, utilized a particle accelorator to produce complex fractal pattens on plastic. Lee challenges perceptions by using digital animations to depict worlds ranging from the far reaches of the universe to the space between subatomic particles. In the coming months, a virtual tour of the exhibition will be added to LASM 360. Displayed during museum hours of 9:30 am–2 pm Thursday or Friday or 9:30–5:30 pm Saturday. Included with museum admission price of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and children, and free for members. lasm.org. k

FEB

1 st

- FEB

ART EXHIBITIONS LIVING MEMORY

26 th

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Inspired by the way each of our

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Baton Rouge artist Beth Welch draws inspiration from personal childhood memories for her exhibition Living Memory, on display now at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s Firehouse Gallery. Photo courtesy of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.

experiences becomes a memory, as well as her process of sifting through her own childhood memories in order to become a better mother, Baton Rouge artist Beth Welch opens an exhibition titled Living Memory, featuring charcoal drawings of mothers and pen and ink drawings of their children, at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s Firehouse Gallery. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am–4:30 pm. artsbr.org. k

FEB 2nd - FEB 23rd

MIXOLOGY SAZERAC HOUSE COCKTAIL WORKSHOPS New Orleans, Louisiana

Get your cocktail shaker ready: The Sazerac House Museum in New Orleans is hosting a series of educational happy hours, both onsite and online. Savor a refreshing Southern classic cocktail in one of the most spirited cities in America.

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Artistry of Light By Mary T. Wiley

Events

Beginning February 3 - February 6 Hosted by drink historians and house distillers and cocktail experts of the highest degree. All participants must be 21. February 2: Walking with Whiskey. 5 pm. $20. February 3: Virtual Tasting: Ojen Cocktail. 5 pm. $31 for cocktail kit. February 9: Drink & Learn: Carnival Traditions. 4 pm. $30. February 10: Spirited Head Dress Workshop. 4 pm. $50. February 11: Spirited Mask Making Workshop. 4 pm. $50. February 23: Cheers to Cheese: Rum. 4 pm. $30. sazerachouse.com. k

when walking around and when social distancing is not possible. Find their upcoming shows here: February 4: Hash Cabbage February 5: Hippie Witch and Killer Whale February 6: Julian Primeaux February 11: Bayou Bullets February 12: Slow Motion Cowboys and The Pine Hill Haints Doors open at 6:30 pm; shows starts at 7:30 pm. $20. Details at Beauvoir Park’s Facebook Page. k

FEB 3rd - FEB 24th

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

LIVE MUSIC CAJUN JAM AT THE BLUE MOON SALOON

Installation &

maintenance

Lafayette, Louisiana

on new & pre-existing lighting

Landscape Lighting Specialists

Transforming outdoor spaces throughout Louisiana for 39 years.

225-955-7584 • artistryoflight.com • MARY T. WILEY

ASCENSION PARISH, LA

WHEN ANCIENT MOSS-DRAPED OAKS LEAD TO COMPELLING STORIES WAITING TO BE TOLD, YOU’LL KNOW YOU’VE REACHED.....

Come to the Moon for the generative magic of its weekly Cajun jam. Open to every skill level, the jam is a great opportunity to learn from the best and to make that special sound we know of as Cajun music. Never scripted, never the same, you never know who is coming or who might show up. But there is always, always plenty of dancing to be had. 8 pm on Wednesdays. Free admission. bluemoonpresents.com. k

FEB 4th & FEB 11th

EVENING TUNES LIVE MUSIC AT LA DIVINA Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Gelato, panini (or paninis, for you American types), and the frequent injections of heart and soul from Baton Rouge’s singer-songwriter enclave? Divine doesn’t even begin to cut it. Here’s the live music that will accompany your dining at La Divina Italian Café this month: February 6: VooDoo Zombies February 11: Clay Parker and Jodi James 6 pm–8 pm facebook.com/ladivinabatonrouge. k The Great River Road Museum at Houmas House and Gardens

FEB 4th - FEB 12th LIVE MUSIC BEAUVOIR PARK LIVE CONCERT SERIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Ascension Parish is a rare gem located right between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and lies on both sides of the mighty Mississippi. Rich in history, it’s the ideal spot for those interested in the perfect mix of Louisiana’s history and culture. VISTLASWEETSPOT.COM GONZALES

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In the cozy, twinkling—and spacious outdoor—corner that is Beauvoir Park, live music finds a home, even in the age of coronavirus. The Park’s open-air live music series features local favorites from all over the state. Lawn chairs, quilts, and blankets encouraged—as well as your own booze. Masks are required

FEB 4th & FEB 13th

GOOD EATS LEISURE COOKING CLASSES You don’t have to be a career chef to be a student at Louisiana Culinary Institute. Their leisure cooking class program has something for just about everyone, and almost always includes take-home results. Here are the classes offered in February that are not yet sold out, all of which take place in the state-of-the-art cooking facilities on LCI’s campus. lci. edu or (225) 769-8820. February 4–Mardi Gras Cookie Decorating: Chef Jeanne Mancuso brings Fat Tuesday spirit in the form of sugar and extravagance. Learn to decorate two dozen sugar cookies with classic Mardi Gras icons and royal icing. 5 pm–8 pm. $125. February 13–Valentine’s Cookie Cake: A simple classic, elevated with beautiful piping and royal icing techniques. Chef Jeanne Mancuso will lead the class in baking the ten-inch chocolate chip cookie, twelve frosted sugar cookies, and twelve lemonade thumbprint cookies. 9 am–noon. $125. k

FEB 5th

GRAS ON THE GO KREWE DE CANAILLES Lafayette, Louisiana

Celebrating inclusivity, creativity, and sustainability, Krewe de Canailles has always taken an eclectic approach to Carnival season, and this year’s restrictions presented only more opportunities for intrigue within the Lafayette community. Rather than its traditional walking parade, KDC is hosting a drive by event (think of it look looking at Christmas lights, Mardi Gras style!) featuring homes and businesses decorated in the spirit of the season, all under the 2021 theme “Oh the Places We Didn’t Go!”. Costumes and music are encouraged (for drivers and “f loat” hosts!) The


Krewe is inviting anyone and everyone to participate, free of charge, simply by registering (to be added to the map!) and decking out your home or business. The map will go live on the Krewe de Canailles website and their Facebook page before the event. 6 pm–9 pm. krewedecanailles.com. k

FEB

5

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& FEB

12

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VIRTUAL CONCERTS MANDEVILLE LIVE!STREAMED: A VIRTUAL CONCERT SERIES Online

In an effort to support local musicians and to celebrate Mandeville’s historic treasure of a venue, the City of Mandeville has partnered with Friends of the Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall to present a virtual live music series in place of the canceled Mandeville Live! and Dew Drop Concert series, which were both canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. The pre-recorded concerts will be streamed on the dates below: February 5: An hour of popular music and familiar tunes performed by the renowned Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra String Quintet February 12: The Clarinet Queen of New Orleans, Doreen Ketchen, returns to the Dew Drop’s historic stage with her family band. Concerts can be viewed on the City of Mandeville’s Facebook page, as well as the Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall Facebook page. 7 pm. k

FEB

6th

STEPPIN’ OUT KICK IT OUT: WITH LOVE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From Frank Sinatra to Dean Martin, the dancers at Of Moving Colors Productions have been working on their high kicks, and are ready to show off their moves with this performance of energetic kickline-style hits. COVID protocols will be accounted for at the performances at the Brown Holt Theatre at the Durham School. Performances at 4 pm and 6 pm. $20. bontempstix.com. k

FEB 6th

CARNIVAL CRAFTS MARDI GRAS MASK MAKING Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Jackie Miller, the Mask Madame herself, is sharing some of her secrets at a special mask making workshop at the Teche Center for the Arts. For generations, Mrs. Miller has dressed the courirs of Tee-Mamou in all their vibrant tattered glory, and in a year where Mardi Gras is looking quite different, she hopes to foster the spirit through sharing her talents

and traditions with area youth. The class will take place at the TCA, with spaced workstations set up for participants. Masks will be required for everyone’s safety. 9 am–noon. $35. Registration is required at techecenterforthearts.com. k

FEB 6th - FEB 7th MARDI PARTY PETITE MARDI GRAS AT THE MANSION Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Returning to Baton Rouge to bring some Mardi Gras cheer to town, Petite Princess is hosting the first ever Petite Mardi Gras at the Mansion at the Old Governor’s Mansion. Guests will enjoy a performance by four princesses, a king cake decorating class, spirited mocktails, and a storytime with New Orleans princesses. And to close it all out, there will of course be a second line, featuring favorite Mardi Gras tunes. Dress code will be cocktail for adults and party/costume for children. Safety measures will include spaced out tables, masking for adults, temps taken at the door, and ample sanitation. Sessions held at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm Saturday and Sunday. $45 per person; infants under the age of one are free. Tickets available at the Petite Mardi Gras at the Mansion Facebook event page. k

FEB 6th - FEB 27th

WORKSHOPS & CLASSES SILVERBACK IMPROV THEATRE COMEDY CLASSES Online

Do your New Year’s resolutions involve stepping outside of your comfort zone? Making new friends? Learning a new skill? For the troupe of Silverbacks Improv Theatre, these things happen year-round, especially now that their Improv Comedy Classes start up again in February—virtually this year and taught by the one and only Aren Chiasson III. Divided into three levels, these Saturday classes begin with Improv 1, an entry-level journey into the craft of improvisation where students learn the application of “group mind,” the “yes, and” technique, and more improv concepts and vocabulary. Students can then move into Improv 2 and Improv 3 at their own pace in a safe, low-stakes, friendly atmosphere. Ages sixteen and older. 2 pm–3:30 pm. $120. Register online at silverbacksimprov.com. Payment plans are available. k

FEB

6th

- FEB

ART EXHIBITIONS GALLERY GRAS

5713 Superior Drive, Suite B-1 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816

28th

New Orleans, Louisiana

Mardi Gras 2021 is still on: the parades, the second lines, even the // F E B 2 1

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Events

Beginning February 7 - February 13 crowds fighting for beads. It’s all taking place inside the artworks of Gallery 600 Julia’s Gallery Gras exhibition, featuring the work of Sean Randall and others. Gallery hours are 10 am–3:30 pm Monday–Saturday. gallery600julia.com. k

FEB

7th

CARNIVAL ONLINE MYSTICK KREWE OF BARKUS Online

Everyone who spent last year navigating the shift to work-from-home knows who the real heroes are: our pups. Which is why this year’s annual Krewe of Barkus is not letting a parade-less Mardi Gras season stop us from celebrating our co-workers, our classmates, our Zoom superstars. If anything, they’ve proven that fun and joy can be had, even at home. With the theme “Barkus at Home, But Not Alone,” the annual celebration will take place virtually this year, honoring the stewards of unconditional love who have been with us through it all. Tune in at 2 pm at barkus.org. k

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FEB

7th

ART EXHIBITIONS FIRST FREE SUNDAY/ZINE RELEASE AND TAKE HOME ACTIVITY Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The first Sunday of the month the LSU Museum of Art opens its doors to the public for free. This month offers a final chance to see Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South before it comes down on February 14. Attendees can also take home a complimentary zine featuring poetry inspired by the artwork, and a mystery art activity bag to indulge your own creative side from home. 1 pm–5 pm. lsumoa.org. k

FEB

7th

GRAS ON THE GO MID CITY GRAS REVERSE PARADE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Known for its finesse in expressing the vibrant spirit of Mid City Baton Rouge, Mid City Gras introduces its 2021 MASKarade Reverse Parade. Rather

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than its typical walking parade down North Boulevard, the event will feature krewes decorating their homes throughout the city. Signs and a map listing the participating sites will direct participants along an afternoon drive marked by all of the extravagance and excess of the Mardi Gras season. Krewes can sign up to participate at the Mid City Gras website at a cost of $15 per household. Judges will evaluate the best decorations and prizes, including gift cards to Mid City businesses and hand-crafted trophies, will be awarded to winners. 1 pm–4 pm. Details at midcitygras.org. k

FEB

8th - FEB 22nd

WORKSHOPS & CLASSES EYE WANDER BEGINNER PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Professional photographer Aaron with Eye Wander Photography is offering a four-part beginner photography course for aspiring shutterbugs. Monday classes will be held in the Eye Wander studio, and the Sunday class will be a “Photo Field Trip” to the Rural Life Museum to hone participants’ skills out in the wide, photogenic world. Participants can join virtually if they so choose. Monday in-studio classes are from 5:30 pm–9 pm, the Sunday “Field Trip” class is 9 am–11:30 am. $400. Email

hello@eyewanderphoto.com or call (225) 366-4567 to sign up for a class. k

FEB

9th

BOOK TALKS AUTHOR TALK WITH MARTHA GRAHAM VIATOR Online

Join the Ascension Parish Library for a virtual talk with one of the authors of William Frantz Public School: A Story of Race, Resistance, Resiliency, and Recovery in New Orleans. The name of the school may not be familiar to you, but you’ve surely seen the iconic images of six-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted into it by Federal Marshalls in 1960. Martha Graham Viator, Ph.D. will give a virtual talk on the new publication that sheds light on stories of school desegregation in New Orleans as well as the ways that Hurricane Katrina had an impact on public education. 6 pm. To register, call (225) 647-3955. k

FEB

11th - FEB 26th

EVENING TUNES LIVE MUSIC AT THE HIDEAWAY ON LEE Lafayette, Louisiana

Downtown Lafayette’s newest hotspot for casual dining is also extending a welcoming hand to some of our best local musicians, hosting frequent outdoor concerts for free.


See their schedule for February here: February 11: Nikia Yung February 12: New Natives Brass Band February 26: Ray Boudreaux Shows start at 7 pm. Visit the Hideaway on Lee’s Facebook page for the most updated schedule. k

FEB

12th

VIRTUAL CONCERTS ACADIANA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA’S ADORE CONCERT Online

The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra presents a virtual program centered on the emotions of adoration in love, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Performed by solo vocalist and pianist Shawn Roy, works include Elgar’s “Salute d’Amour,” Rachmaninov’s “Vocalize,” Karlowicz’s “Romanza from Serenade for Strings,” Breiner’s “Beatles Go Baroque,” and other romantic songs by composers Porter, Gershwin, Berlin, and Rogers. 6 pm. $10; $25 for a family pass. acadianasymphony.org. k

FEB 12th

COMEDY SOCIALLY DISTANCED SPOOF NIGHT! WITH PRETTY IN PINK Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Join Baton Rouge’s The Family Dinner

Comedy Troupe for an interactive movie experience, poking fun at the John Hughes classic Pretty in Pink at the Manship Theatre. Enjoy live commentary, skits, and interactive games for laughs and a drink or two. Groups will be seated with six feet distancing measures. Masks must be worn until guests reach their seat. Rated R; guests under sixteen require an accompanying parent or guardian. 7:30 pm. $11. manshiptheatre.org. k

FEB 12 - FEB 14 th

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CARNIVAL ONLINE MARDI GRAS FOR ALL Y’ALL Online

Nothing can keep New Orleans Mardi Gras down, and thanks to a partnership between nola.com and Mardi Gras World, Louisiana can continue to live out its Carnival dreams alongside the city’s biggest icons. This three-day virtual event will feature appearances from New Orleans artists, chefs, and personalities doing what they do best at famous venues around the city, including Mardi Gras World, Antoine’s, Dookie Chase’s, and more. Scheduled to appear are: Archie Manning, Hoda Kotb, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Emeril Lagasse, and a special guest performance by Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners Leo Nocintelli and

George Porter, Jr. of The Meters. Plus, plenty more. Begins at 8 pm on February 12 and lasts until 10 pm on February 14. View the event via nola.com, theadvocate.com, YouTube, or Facebook Live at the Mardi Gras for All Y’all Facebook event. k

FEB

12th

- FEB

21st

STEPPIN’ OUT A VIRTUAL CINDERELLA Online

In 2018 Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre’s production of the family-favorite ballet Cinderella was filmed live at the River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts, and now patrons can relive (or experience for the first time) the magic from their homes. More than just a ballet, Cinderella is partially narrated with all of your favorite plot points from the classic fairytale. For this performance, the 2018 BRBT company is joined by guest artists Erin Arndofer of Ballet Des Moines and Yosvani Ramos of the Colorado Ballet as Cinderella and her prince. Children and families who want to get involved in the magic can purchase a “Magic Slipper”, a pointe shoe craft to decorate to look just like Cinderella’s. Magic Slippers can be picked up at the BRBT office from 9 am–3 pm on Monday–Friday. $45, $10 for Magic Slipper craft. batonrougeballet.org. k

FEB 12th & FEB 26th

TRIVIAL PURSUITS LIVINGSTON PARISH LIBRARY ZOOM TRIVIA NIGHTS Online

Miss wow-ing your friends with your intimate knowledge of niche subjects at the trivia nights that frequently used to go down at bars and libraries? The Livingston Parish Library has you covered with these live Zoom trivia nights. Participants must register in advance to play, and be over the age of twelve. Both begin at 7 pm. mylpl.info. Here are the topics: February 12: Speculative Fiction February 26: Star Trek and Star Wars k

FEB

13th

CARNIVAL ONLINE MYSTIC KREWE OF MUTTS Online

The Capital Area Animal Welfare Society is clicking its heels together, Toto in tow, proclaiming the truer than ever phrase: “There’s No Place Like Home.” For this year’s Mystic Krewe of Paws parade, the Society encourages you to settle back into that well-worn armchair, puppers beside you, and watch the cute-as-ever virtual presentation of Baton Rouge’s finest, in video form! Viewable on the 2021 Mystic Krewe of Mutts Parade Facebook Event. k

WE CARRY EACH OTHER It’s how we do things in Louisiana during times of challenge. We’re stronger together and we know our strength lies in the helping hands of our neighbors. So let’s wear a mask and protect one another. And protect the life we love.

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Events

Beginning February 15 - February 28 FEB 15th

FUN RUNS LUNDI GRAS BAR-A-THON Lafayette, Louisiana

This Lundi Gras, TRAIL is hosting a Fun (and we mean fun) Run through downtown Lafayette. The 4.5 mile route includes stops at “adult hydration stations” throughout the city, featuring Carnival drinks to keep you going. A party bus will be available for anyone who gets tired (or is there more for the fun than the run). Registration opens at Cafe 20.3 on the Bayou at 4:30 pm, with a 5:15 pm costume contest to follow. Run begins at 5:30 pm. $34. latrail.org. k

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FEB 15th

LOCAL HISTORY “COMING TO AMERICA” OLD STATE CAPITOL ZOOM TALK Online

Louisiana has a diverse population, and immigrants have contributed to our state’s unique and vibrant culture for centuries. This Zoom talk from the Old State Capitol will asses more current questions, like what does immigration look like today, and what are the steps to legal citizenship? Dauda Sesay, Louisiana’s delegate to the nonpartisan advocacy organization known as the Refugee Congress, will speak to these questions and a variety of other topics. The talk is in conjunction with the exhibition Jacob A. Riis: How the Other Half Lives. 5:30 pm. Free, but registration is required at louisianaoldstatecapitol.org. k

FEB 16th

GRAS ON THE GO LE VIEUX MARDI GRAS DE CAJUNS DE EUNICE Eunice, Louisiana

Dating back to the city’s earliest days in the late nineteenth century, Eunice’s Courir de Mardi Gras features riders on horseback in masks, conspiring in chicken-chasing, revelry, general silliness, and an effort to make a community-wide gumbo. While this tradition typically expands into a five-day celebration of street dances, cooking demos, a boucherie, and a parade through downtown—safety precautions this year mean the tradition is stripping itself down to the heart of the matter: the courir! Participating runners were vetted through a highly selective process (How much respect do you have for the tradition? How legit is your capuchon?) and the courir will be limited to the rural routes outside of town. If you know where to

go (you can always contact the leaders at eunice_mardigras@yahoo.com), you can find a spot to sit on your tailgate to view the shenanigans. Most updated details at facebook.com/eunicemardigras. k

FEB 20th

BOOK TALKS AUTHORS AFTER HOURS: SARAH M. BROOM AND MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Readers, don’t miss this chance to meet two of last year’s biggest names in literature, both from the great city of New Orleans, and both telling rich stories of it. The Main Library at Goodwood welcomes Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of the National Bestseller The Revisioners, who joins Sarah M. Broom, author of the New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction The Yellow House. Both offer haunting, complicated, and vital stories about the Crescent City—a place resounding with both corruption and light. Noon–2:30 pm in the library’s large meeting room. Free. Register at (225) 231-3750. ebrpl.com. k

FEB 22nd - FEB 27th

VIRTUAL CONVENTIONS VIRTUAL LIVINGSTON PARISH LIBRARY COMIC CON Online

In the eyes of comic book and science fiction lovers, what could be better than Comic Con? A full week of Comic Con from the comfort of home, that’s what. Livingston Parish Library, who typically holds an annual event inspired by the mega-convention in San Diego, is taking their Comic Con online for its sixth year and spreading it out over the course of a full week, to ensure no fun is missed, and dubbing it “Comicpalooza”. Typically the con features talks with authors and illustrators, cosplay contests, games, and more, which can be expected online this year, too. Check mylpl.info/comiccon closer to the event for schedule details. k

FEB 24th

LIVE MUSIC RIVER CITY JAZZ MASTERS: WARREN WOLF Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Jazz vibraphonist Warren Wolf will kick off the 2021 River City Jazz Masters concert series with an outdoor performance on the River Terrace at the Shaw Center. Season ticket subscribers can reserve their seats today by emailing


jgrimes@artsbr.org or calling (225) 3448558. Individual tickets can be purchased at the Manship Theatre box office or online at manshiptheatre.org. Individual tickets are $45. 7:30 pm. k

Shaw Center for the Arts’ fourth f loor River Terrace. $32. 7:30 pm. Tickets at manshiptheatre.org. k

FEB 24

LIVE MUSIC TRIBUTES HONORING THE LIFE OF JILLIAN JOHNSON

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ARCHITECTURE TALKS A. HAYS TOWN GALLERY TALK, TOUR, AND RECEPTION Port Allen, Louisiana

Leslie Gladney, granddaughter of the famed Louisiana architect, will present a lunchtime talk to accompany the exhibition A. Hays Town and the Architectural Image of Louisiana. Following there will be a brief tour and light reception, after which participants are invited to visit the West Baton Rouge Presbyterian Church just a few blocks from the museum, which was designed by A. Hays Town. Free. Noon. westbatonrougemuseum.org. k

FEB 25th

LIVE MUSIC HONKY TONK REVIEW Baton Rouge, Louisiana

A rare New Orleans country band known for their energetic dance hall shows, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Review will perform a special outdoor, socially-distanced show at the

FEB

25th

- FEB

26th

Lafayette, Louisiana

In July 2015, Lafayette lost one of its most creative and wonderful souls in the tragic Grand Theater shooting. The Acadiana Center for the Arts is taking two nights to honor the memory of the musician, artist, and beloved community member Jillian Johnson through a concert featuring her former bandmates from The Figs, Steve Riley, members of the Red Stick Ramblers, Woody Pines, and Johnson’s family members. The show will take place 7:30 pm both nights in the James Devin Moncus Theatre. $35–$55. acadianacenterforthearts.org. k

FEB 27th

WORKSHOPS & CLASSES Q&A WITH KEVIN MCQUARN Online

Kevin McQuarn has mastered writing, editing, producing, and more for film and television, including writing scripts for Cartoon Network and DC Comics and

founding his own production company, FantomLight. Now is your chance to meet Ascension Parish’s resident Renaissance man and ask him the questions on your mind about writing, editing, film, and more. 10:30 am. To register for this Zoom program, call (225) 673-8699. k

FEB

27th

GREEN THUMBS HERB DAY PLANT SALE

courtesy of the West Feliciana Chamber of Commerce, who will host an exciting Uncorked Wine & Food Showcase at Restaurant 1796 at the Myrtles. The event will feature delicious food, fun cocktails, wine, and desserts from local restaurants, bars, and specialty food boutiques. The event will be spread out through the restaurant’s Dining Room, Bayou Banquet Room, and both exterior courtyards to promote social distancing practices. 5 pm–7 pm. $60. k

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For those who have come to appreciate their gardens more than ever since quarantine began, this event by the LSU AgCenter is for you. In celebration of Herb Day there will be an herb plant sale featuring hundreds of fragrant plants to choose from at the Botanic Gardens. From lavender to fennel to rosemary to turmeric, there’s sure to be something for every gardening and/or cooking enthusiast (with a socially-distanced line and masks required, of course). 9 am–1 pm. Contact Mary Williams at druid@wi.rr.com with questions. k

FEB

28th

GOOD EATS UNCORKED WINE & FOOD SHOWCASE Saint Francisville, Louisiana

Enjoy the best of St. Francisville cuisine

214 Washington - Holly Hedges

416 Orleans - Lantana Hill

Holly Hedges occupies a strategic position, located in the first square of the new town of Natchez, and dates back to 1796. Two blocks from the river and three blocks from Main Street makes this location one of convenience for downtown living. The property includes a 4 car garage with a studio apartment, a spacious courtyard with water feature and fountain, and an adjoining boxwood garden. There is an unfinished second floor with plumbing for a bath and a large basement area. Architectural details abound in this property with Zuber wallpaper in the ballroom, Turqot map in the study, and beautiful crown mouldings and other woodwork. The sunroom features a wetbar and views of the garden. The wide screened provides extra space for entertaining or relaxing. Some chandeliers will not remain. Don't miss this stunning historical treasure!

This historic property is known as Lantana Hill. It has undergone restoration and modernization, and is the perfect place for someone wanting a unique and beautiful place in Natchez. It is only a few of blocks from everything downtown and the riverfront. The interior, covered patio and beautifully landscaped rear yard area lends its self to entertaining very nicely. There is also an elevator located just inside from the garage for conveniently moving people or groceries to the main level. A separate wing houses a 1br/1ba guesthouse. Fully restored historic house!

Natchez, MS 114 Main Street • 601-442-2286 // F E B 2 1

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C O N C E N T R AT E D C A R N I VA L

Mardi Gras at Home THE SPIRIT LIVES ON

Dress thePart Part Dress the

Photo courtesy of Century Girl Vintage

For something dance-able: fringe+co., fringe-co.com For something chicken chase-able: Le Vieux Moulin Mardi Gras Store, 402 Canal St. Church Point For something royal: D & D Creations, dndcreations.net, 3611 Florida Ave. Kenner For something vintage: GinaWare Costumes & Clothing, ginaware.com, 4429 Bienville St. New Orleans For the best mask selection around: Maskarade, themaskstore.com, 530 St. Ann St. New Orleans For something designer: Century Girl Vintage, centurygirlvintage.com, 2023 Magazine St. New Orleans For something whimsical: Fifi Mahoney’s, fifisbywater.square.site, 934 Royal St. & 3212 Dauphine St. New Orleans For something casual: Sweet Baton Rouge, sweetbatonrouge.com, 1509 Government St. Suite D Baton Rouge

Meleck Masquerade 1-1/2 oz. JT Meleck Vodka 1/2 oz. Blue Curacao 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice 1/2 oz. simple syrup 2-1/2 oz. cranberry juice Shake with ice. Serve over fresh ice, and garnish with lemon twist. Recipe and photo courtesy of JT Meleck.

LIVE OAK LANDSCAPES

STIMULUS City of New Roads Presents

Pop Up shop ON MAIN S T REE T

February 6, 2021 Along Main Street In Downtown New Roads 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. î “e City of New Roads will launch a pop up to assist small businesses during the pandemic, at no cost to vendors. A great place to enjoy a day of shopping and practice social distancing while allowing small businesses a chance to make sales.

The Prettiest City on the Water

169 Homochitto St Natchez, MS 39120 (601) 445-8203

5064 Hwy 84 West Vidalia, LA 71373 (318) 336-5307

liveoaklandscapesms.com 22

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Joy the Baker’s Pull Apart King Cake For the Dough:

For the Filling:

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast 2 tablespoon warm water Pinch of sugar 4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup granulated sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 3 ounces unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup whole milk, lightly warmed 1/4 cup warm water 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten to combine 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground nutmeg 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted

For the Topping:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 2-3 tablespoons whole milk Pinch of salt Splash of pure vanilla extract yellow, green, and purple sprinkles A little plastic baby or feve

1. In a small bowl whisk together yeast, warm water, and a pinch of sugar. Allow the mixture to foam to life, about 5 minutes. 2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine 4 cups flour, sugar, salt, softened butter, warm milk and water, eggs and vanilla extract. 3. Add the yeast mixture. 4. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula until it combines into a shaggy dough. 5. Place a dough hook on the stand mixer and mix the dough on low speed until it begins to combine. Gradually add the remaining cup of flour until the dough forms a cohesive ball around the dough hook. The dough should have enough flour to pull away from the sides of the bowl and have enough liquid to feel moist but not sticky. 6. Knead the dough on a clean counter for 10 turns to ensure the dough is well combined and springs back to the touch. 7. Place the dough is a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 8. While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. 9. Melt butter. Set aside. 10. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch cast iron skillet and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 11. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long... that’s okay. Just roll so that it’s just less than 1/2-inch thick. 12. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. It might seem like a lot of sugar but you’re doing it right. 13. Slice the dough into squares about 2 1/2-inches each. Carefully stack 5 or 6 of the sugar squares on top of one another. 14. Place a 1-cup ramekin in the center of the greased cast iron. Carefully place stacks of dough around the ramekin so they stand up but loosely fan. Continue placing each stack around the ramekin until the entire ring is stacked with dough. Place a clean kitchen towel over the pan and allow to rest for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven. 15. Place racks in the upper third and center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the parchment-lined baking sheet on the center rack. Remove the towel from the cake and place in the oven above the baking sheet to catch any sugary drips that might come from the cast iron. 16. Allow to bake for 26 to 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to rest until the cake is cool enough to remove the center ramekin. 17. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, salt and vanilla to a pourable stream. Drizzle over cooled cake and top with yellow, green, and purple sprinkles. Add a baby and share with many. —Recipe and king cake photos by Joy Wilson, at joythebaker.com.

1358 John A. Quitman Blvd., Natchez 601.442.5852 MonmouthHistoricInn.com

E  O. // F E B 2 1

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YOUR 2021 MARDI GRAS PLAYLIST Hey Pocky A-Way by The Meters

Carnival Time

by Bo Dollis, The Wild Magnolias

KREWE OF HOUSE FLOATS

L

eading up to this year’s Mardi Gras festivities, New Orleans residents knew that there had to be some way to channel the city’s inner spirit of celebration, even without parades or parties or gatherings. In true fashion, local creatives have come together to present the first ever Krewe of House Floats, an initiative that sets out to drape the Crescent City in whimsy, joy, and celebration despite all odds. Collaborating with local artists and businesses, residents in neighborhoods throughout New Orleans (and beyond!) have decked out their homes for the season in the iconic style of Carnival floats. Inspired? Visit kreweofhousefloats.com for details on how to be a part of it, including guides to local vendors offering everything from beads to costumes to décor. You can also support local float artists at hireamardigrasartist.com by donating, and you may even get a chance to have your home professionally decorated. Regardless, be sure to visit the Krewe’s site on February 1, when they release their map of the city. Safe Mardi Gras doesn’t have to mean a stale Mardi Gras. We’ve still got art. We’ve still got music. We’ve still got king cake. And we’ve still got each other. —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot —Photos by Alexandra Kennon

Do Whatcha Wanna by Rebirth Brass Band

Big Chief

by The Wild Magnolias

Second Line by Stop Inc. Big Brass Drum (All on Mardi Gras Day) by Dr. John

Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Fats Domino

Go to the Mardi Gras by Professor Longhair

Brother John / Iko Iko by the Neville Brothers

Mardi Gras Mambo by the Hawketts

Street Parade by Earl King

Bacchus

by Galactic and Allen Toussaint

Say Na Hey

by The Soul Rebels

Tremé Mardi Gras by Kermit Ruffins

Mardi Gras Song by Bobby Charles

La Danse de Mardi Gras by Steve Riley

—Alexandra Kennon

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V I S I T S T. F R A N C I S V I L L Ten Minutes on Tourism

WITH ST. FRANCISVILLE MAYOR BOBEE LEAKE

B

obee Leake might be new to the St. Francisville mayor’s office but he’s no stranger to West Feliciana, or to the attractions that draw visitors to his hometown from across the region and around the world. Born and raised, a graduate of the West Feliciana School System, and a collector of vintage motorcycles, Leake, 50, was sworn in as mayor replacing stalwart Billy D’Aquilla, who had served as mayor for upwards of thirty years until his retirement in December, 2020. And while he’s happy to admit that “Mr. Billy” left some big shoes to fill, Mayor Leake comes to the post with a deep appreciation for the attractions that make St. Francisville one of Louisiana’s most popular small-town destinations— for visitors, for young families looking to relocate, and for retirees, too. We sat down with Mayor Leake to talk tourism, tax dollars, and the unique attractions that keep folks coming back.

CR: How important is tourism to the local economy? BL: It’s vital! Considering all of the businesses—the stores, the restaurants, the hotels and bed and breakfasts—that benefit when folks visit St. Francisville, tourism is one of the most important, if not the most important, parts of who we are. Second to our amazing school system, West Feliciana’s appeal as a tourist destination is probably the most important asset we have. CR: Why do you think that is? BL: St. Francisville has attractions that appeal to many different kinds of visitors. We have amenities and attractions for history buffs, shoppers, antiquers, outdoor enthusiasts, birdwatchers, cyclists, boaters, food-lovers, and folks just looking to escape to a friendly, smalltown setting. More visitors mean more stores, restaurants, B&Bs, and cafés get established and thrive. The sales taxes those businesses generate support more and better

amenities—like sidewalks, parks, libraries, and schools, That’s good for everyone who lives here, too. The thing about a town with a healthy tourism economy is that everyone benefits: visitors and residents alike. CR: Although the coronavirus pandemic stopped a lot of tourist activity cold, St. Francisville still welcomed a lot of visitors in 2020. Why do you think that is? BL: Our town has been very lucky from a tourism standpoint. Believe it or not we actually exceeded sales tax revenues in 2020 over 2019. Why? I think partly because people were slowing down, staying closer to home, and not traveling so far. And also, because we’re a small, friendly community with lots of outdoor activities and spaces, we could be a little bit more open to our neighbors. So people from Baton Rouge could feel comfortable getting out on weekends and coming up to eat, shop, and stay. CR: Looking forward, what

developments in tourism are you’re most excited about in 2021? BL: We’re on schedule to start welcoming the Mississippi riverboat cruises back beginning in March so that’s exciting because we’ve missed seeing those folks! I’m also excited to announce a live music concert series that’ll be happening the fourth Thursday of each month in Parker Park. We’ll have the first one Thursday, March 25 at 5:30 pm, with the band Blue Ridge with Barry Hebert. We’re working on having drinks and food trucks available onsite, and we’ll develop it from there! stfrancisville.net

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F E B 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M

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Find A Copy of Country Roads near you! Magnolia Cafe Audubon Market The Francis Southern Table Grandmother’s Buttons District Mercantile Bank of St. Francisville Sullivan Dental Center BirdMan Coffee // F E B 2 1

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Features

F E B R U A RY 2 0 2 1 28

A

FEW OF MY FAVORITE

VATION

IN

THINGS

// 3 1

FRENCH

IMMERSION

IN

ARNAUDVILLE

O L D I N TO N E W // 3 4

HISTORICAL PRESER-

NEW ORLEANS W

C U R AT E D A C C U M U L AT I O N

Greg Milneck is a longtime collector of vintage cameras and watches. And each time he finds a new addition to his collection, he embarks on a mission to learn its story. Photo courtesy of Milneck.

The Fourth Story

CONSIDERING COLLECTORS AND THEIR COLLECTIONS By Elizabeth Chubbuck Weinstein

T

he perennial curator, I regard objects with the same sensibility I feel toward children. Each object has its own identity and special needs. I enjoy their unique attributes and I am proud when others admire them. When parted, I look forward to their return and check them over 28

carefully when reunited. I like to share their stories. I used to tell people that every object has three stories, but upon reflection, I believe there are actually four. The most obvious story is the first: the tale that an object conveys visually, whether it is a straightforward picture or an abstracted image painted on the surface of a canvas.

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Or it might be a suggested narrative generated by its style of craftsmanship, like an Eastlake chair dating to the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Secondly, there is the story of the object’s making: who made it, where, when, and what it is made of. The journey, or provenance, can be considered the third: this record tracks the object’s movement,

from its birth in the studio, through its different owners and locations, to the present site. Lastly, but no less compelling, is another story—a private one. This fourth story is generated by the owner of the object, the collector who imbues the item with personal meaning. It is the story of the object’s significance in the eyes of the collector.


“THIS FOURTH STORY IS GENERATED BY THE OWNER OF THE OBJECT, THE COLLECTOR WHO IMBUES THE ITEM WITH PERSONAL MEANING. IT IS THE STORY OF THE OBJECT’S SIGNIFICANCE IN THE EYES OF THE COLLECTOR.”

At eight years old, Scott Purdin began collecting pennies. Decades later, this practice of discerning value in and accumulating objects has been extended to British art, which for Purdin has now become a sort of “profession,” as he describes it. Pictured on top are a few of the works he’s acquired. Pictured below is an oil portrait of Walter A. Brandt, painted by William Coldstream. Photos by Elizabeth Weinstein.

For the better part of the last thirty years and still counting, my job brings me into contact with collectors, making me the happy beneficiary of their stories. My broad experience includes management of private holdings as well as those of several museums, for whom I led the growth, care, and interpretation of thousands of objects of all varieties

to ensure that future generations would have the pleasure of enjoying them. Among the hundred or so exhibitions I curated over the years were shows composed of objects borrowed from personal collections. These items ranged from rocks, meteorites, and insects to cameras, jewelry, Judith Leiber handbags covered in hand-sewn crystals, and

all manner of artworks. Sometimes a collector approached me first: I was presented with several extraordinary invitations, among them the chance to exhibit the funeral hearse that carried Martin Luther King, Jr., to his final resting place. Unfortunately, the vehicle did not fit through any of the museum’s doors. Yet, a huge 66-million-year-old Triceratops skull weighing over a ton somehow did, albeit barely. We often use the word “collection” to refer simply to a group of things. I prefer Merriam-Webster’s definition of the collection as “an accumulation of objects gathered for study, comparison or exhibition, or as a hobby.” We all accumulate stuff; the difference is the intentional choice to save it. Regardless of what we collect—beetles, Barbies, bikes, or Brancusi—and despite their monetary worth, rarity, or other specifics; the very act of saving endows the object with intrinsic value, even if that perceived worth is recognized only by the owner. We all own objects, and we all collect stuff. An innate human behavior, we instinctively surround ourselves with things, whether gathered absentmindedly or through careful research and selection. These accumulations can consist of absolutely anything from letters, family photographs, and used Lego kits to living things like neighborhood cats or even ephemeral items. Sigmund Freud, the famous father of modern psychology, not only collected antiquities, but also jokes and “slips of the tongue.” LeRoy Robert Ripley traveled the globe seeking curious facts to report in his newspaper column. His absurd claims and exotic souvenirs are on view in the many Ripley’s Believe or Not! venues in popular tourist destinations. Although not held in high esteem today, Ripley was earnest in his desire to raise our awareness of the marvelous and strange things the world has to offer. Perhaps following Ripley’s footsteps virtually, a local fellow I know spends his time searching the Internet for trivia that he shares with patrons in bars, restaurants, and private parties in the form of Quizzical Trivia Nights. Most serious collectors begin the habit in childhood. Scott Purdin, for instance, has been a collector nearly all his life.

He started when he was barely eight years old after his uncle introduced him to penny collecting. Purdin says he is “a [dead] ringer when it comes to knowing pennies,” and after all these years he still has his complete Penny Book and the bags of coins accumulated during his youth. Purdin later took up a passion for post-war British art after placing a 3 am phone bid on two paintings in a London auction. No one bid against him on the oil painting. However, the other bid for a small four-by-five-inch watercolor stirred up a little competition, bringing the price up higher than anticipated. Purdin says that at the time he felt it to be “a big risk,” but he was delighted when the wooden crate containing his new paintings arrived several weeks later. Curious to learn more, he started reading up on British art, and learned that William Coldstream, who made the larger painting, was the teacher of the other artist and produced little during his lifetime. Purdin began to study all the artists associated with the school where Coldstream taught, later buying another work by the artist several years later. He gradually built up an important collection and continues to buy and sell British art. Whether for investment or pleasure, serious collectors work hard to acquire the objects of their desire. As Purdin puts it, “If you want to collect, you need to become obsessed and look deeply; you need to develop a discerning eye for detail.” Describing his own collecting practice, he says: “I get to know [the things I collect] very well. When I started my book collection [for instance], I learned to be able to look at a book and determine its value. I learned how to understand its condition, rarity [and its] numbers, which show when [a book] was printed and what edition it is.” The hunt not just to acquire another object but to unearth its secrets lies at the heart of Greg Milneck’s passion. The owner of DigitalFX, a Baton Rouge production studio, he collects vintage watches and cameras. Milneck says he still abides by the advice given to him by a sage collector when he first started out: “When looking for a certain object that’s obscure, just buy the first one [you find] and don’t worry about the condition. // F E B 2 1

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Suzanne and Gray Sexton describe themselves as “enthusiastic collectors.” A major feature of their efforts is an impressive art collection of American Brilliant Period Cut Glass. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Sexton.

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Then go out [again] and find a perfect one [after doing your homework]!” Milneck’s favorite item to seek out is the Akeley “Pancake” camera that revolutionized the early twentieth century film industry. Milneck explains that the camera was invented in 1915 by Carl Akeley, a naturalist who sought to record animals in their native habitats. Milneck’s fondness for these cameras began forty years ago after he bought a Paul Strand photograph depicting the round-shaped camera. When asked why he collects them, he says he realized for the first time that it’s because of the stories they represent: “What I do for a living is tell stories. I enjoy learning about the history of my craft. I love researching the story of why it was made, when [and] who used it.” Each time Milneck adds another item to his collection, he embarks upon a new quest to discover the object’s story. He relayed the tale of his most recently acquired Akeley. It came with two unassuming documents: one with an intriguing name and the other with some odd numbers. Armed with these clues, he scoured library and Internet holdings to find out what he could. He happily discovered that Faxon M. Dean, the famed silentera cinematographer, just might be the original owner, and that the camera may be one used to film Wings in the 1920s. To collect any object seriously requires training the eye (or palette, as the case may be). The ability to discern minute details makes all the difference in determining the value of one object versus another almost identical one. Suzanne Sexton and her husband Gray describe themselves as “enthusiastic collectors” who enjoy their beautiful things. Together—alongside a vast collection including original American prints, Tiffany Studios desk sets,

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Southern art, American furniture, and more—they have built up an art collection that prominently features American Brilliant Period Cut Glass. The sparkling bowls, platters, trophies, shakers, and cologne bottles of all shapes and sizes are displayed throughout their home and office. Among Sexton’s favorite memories is the time she happened upon an exquisite powder box at an unassuming antiques booth during one of their twenty-five annual visits to the Miami Beach Antiques Show. Recognizing the red color of the glass and its excellent craftsmanship as being extremely rare, she purchased it. Some years later at a different antiques booth during the 2014 American Cut Glass Convention, her husband Gray identified the matching colognes, making her rare find even more spectacular by reuniting the set. The matching powder box and colognes are worth more to Sexton than their monetary value. When we collect and keep objects that we deem significant, the items metaphorically represent an extension of ourselves. In other words, our collections are reflections of our personality and reflect our path through life. For instance, I once met a renowned Lafayette-based malacologist (an expert on mollusks) whose Smithsonian-worthy collection contained over 7,000 species and 100,000 specimens. When I went to visit him, he opened drawer after drawer of shells of every size, shape, and color imaginable, each one carefully labeled, while he talked about his childhood in Cuba and his move to the United States so many years ago. Perhaps unconsciously, his collection connected him to the country of his birth and the shells he collected there in his youth, both of which were suddenly lost forever when Castro took over.

On another occasion I got to know a woman with Alzheimer’s and her son when I borrowed paintings by Noel Rockmore from her collection. She had acquired over 1,400 paintings and drawings by Rockmore over the course of nearly thirty-five years, providing support and encouragement for the artist throughout his life. Yet, her family was completely unaware of her holdings and she had forgotten about the artworks until her family rediscovered them in a New Orleans storage bin, somehow unharmed by the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. The collection not only represents the artist’s life, but his patron’s life as well. Thus, in carrying on his mother’s work to preserve Rockmore’s legacy, the collector’s son is also preserving his mother’s legacy. Every collection contains a good story—the one I refer to as the “fourth story.” These stories often are known only to the collector—until they choose to share them. When we reveal the personal significance of an object that we hold dear, we become vulnerable. We disclose what the object means to us, and thus reveal our interior life; allowing someone else to catch a glimpse into that sacred space within us that contains our memories, insecurities, hopes, failures, and perpetual dreams. I am forever indebted to all the collectors I have known for entrusting me with their stories. h

Elizabeth Chubbuck Weinstein is an independent curator, writer, and creative consultant based in Baton Rouge. She is the former Chief Curator and Director of Interpretation of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, where she worked for eighteen years.


C U LT U R A L P R E S E R VAT I O N

Speaking My Language

CULTURAL REVITALIZATION AT THE SAINT-LUC FRENCH IMMERSION AND CULTURAL CAMPUS Story and photos by Jonathan Olivier

A

lthough rarer these days, there still exists a clan of old timers in Acadiana who remember the caramel-tinted cotton of days past. Very unlike the fluffy white balls most of us are familiar with, it was dubbed coton jaune (yellow cotton) in French, but in English it’s known as Acadian brown cotton. “People made night gowns and underwear with it,” said Arnaudville native Mavis Arnaud Frugé, eightytwo. “It didn’t matter if it was washed in a creek that wasn’t clear, because it wouldn’t stain it. It had a yellow cast to it.” The plant has its origins in South America, and was likely brought to South Louisiana via trade routes where Creoles, Acadians, and others saw its value. Although brown cotton had smaller yields than white cotton, the plant grew easily and, most importantly,

its seeds could be removed by hand instead of necessitating a gin. “That made it more accessible,” Frugé said. “It was the less-than-wealthy people who were using it to spin and weave.” People began to rely on coton jaune as women in the region became skilled spinners, thus weaving the plant into the fabric of Acadiana. Although as commercial options became available in the twentieth century, Frugé explained that families simply quit the practice, and the art was on its way to being forgotten. Recent revitalization efforts have brought the plant and its history back to light, due in large part to the organization Acadian Brown Cotton and the 2015 documentary Coton Jaune: Acadian Brown Cotton, a Cajun Love Story. Today, many farmers around Acadiana are again growing coton jaune to preserve the heritage seeds, and to continue its storied tradition.

Frugé figured that if she wanted to preserve an important part of her culture, she had better do something about it herself, too. This year she tended to a one-acre patch of coton jaune in her backyard, harvesting by hand from July to December and yielding almost one thousand pounds of fiber. “Growing coton jaune got me thinking that those talents of growing cotton, spinning and weaving; they are on the decline just like the French language is in Louisiana,” Frugé said. She has approached growing cotton in the same way that she serves as a steward of her maternal French language, with vigor and unwavering stamina. Known as a frequent host of French tables and of francophone visitors, Frugé is a wellrecognized force in Louisiana’s world of language preservation. Currently, she is the president of the non-profit, the Saint-Luc French Immersion and

Cultural Campus in Arnaudville, which is a forthcoming organization that will soon offer immersion classes in French and instruction in Louisiana Creole and other local heritage languages; it will be the first program of its kind in the nation. Frugé said organizers are also heavily invested in incorporating Louisiana’s distinct cultural elements into the program—which is where she thinks her coton jaune can shine. “I have selected a large room in SaintLuc with five spinning wheels and seven looms,” she said. “In addition to keeping French in Louisiana alive, we’ll be reviving traditions such as weaving with coton jaune through workshops in our programming.” But before Frugé and other organizers at the Saint-Luc campus can even consider hosting their first program, the old building—which sat vacant for over a decade before the board purchased it in

Arnaudville narive Mavis Frugé grew up speaking Louisiana French, and today is considered a leader in the efforts to revitalize the language for the next generation. Over the years, she has organized French Tables, shared the region’s culture with visitors, and is currently the force behind the Saint-Luc French Immersion Center nonprofit.

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Beginning in 2021, the Saint-Luc French Immersion Campus in Arnaudville will host groups from all over the country to learn the language and traditions of French-speaking Louisiana.

2019—requires extensive repairs. While Frugé awaits news of grants, funding, and donations so renovation work can begin on a large scale, and through the uncertainty of the past year as a result of the coronavirus, she has made progress wherever she can. Each week, she and a group of volunteers spend hours scrubbing walls, removing old furniture and mapping out which rooms will house students, cultural items, and a room designated for coton jaune workshops. “It’s as simple as changing a lightbulb here and there,” she said. “Every little bit gets us one step closer to renovating the building.” Frugé has served as one of Saint-Luc’s founders, championed its cause, and now hauls buckets of water from her house to the campus to clean one room at a time. More than the face of the organization, she’s the fire beneath it, pushing organizers to overcome numerous hurdles on the path to where they are today. “Getting Saint-Luc to function as an immersion school will be a lifelong dream,” she said. “It’s been the most important project of my life.”

Frugé came of age during the 1940s and ‘50s, a time when English had just begun to infiltrate most of South Louisiana, and even isolated communities like hers were becoming more Anglophone. Even still, during her early life, her community spoke exclusively French. 32

“French was the only language I knew,” she said. The anecdotes of teachers punishing Louisiana students for speaking French in the classroom—told to us younger generations by so many of our grandparents and great grandparents— have long stood as a testament to the resulting generational shame associated with Acadian people’s ancestral language, hastening its decline in Louisiana. Unlike many of her generation, though, Frugé wasn’t punished in school for speaking her native tongue, and though she began to use it less in the years she spent away from Arnaudville, the French language remained a part of her identity that she was proud of. “When I came back to Arnaudville, and I visited old relatives, and they spoke to me in French, I fell in love with it all over again,” she said. “I knew that I didn’t want that to die.” By the time Frugé and her family moved back to Arnaudville, the language had already begun its decline. In the 1960s when Frugé was living outside of Louisiana, there were around one million francophones in South Louisiana. Fast forward to the 2000s, and that figure had been slashed to fewer than 200,000. Today, census estimates show fewer than 100,000 French speakers remain in the state.

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In the 1990s, Frugé began hosting French tourists visiting Louisiana in her home. She started Arnaudville’s only French table, an event where people gather to speak French together, at the NUNU Arts and Culture Collective. But Frugé saw her chance to really continue the dissemination of her native language when Amanda LaFleur, a Cajun French professor at Louisiana State University, approached her in 2005 to help coordinate an immersion workshop for LSU students. The idea was for Frugé and other native speakers in Arnaudville to help lead workshops in a five-day immersion school, which morphed into the Sur Les Deux Bayous program. “Amanda would teach them how to crawfish,” Frugé said. “We took the students to the Evangeline Oak to learn about our culture. They went kayaking. A gentleman would teach them about fishing and he’d fry fish on the bayou

bank. And it was all in Louisiana French.” Classrooms were inside NUNU, or Frugé would host students in her home. Although there was no infrastructure, simply the bare bones of an immersion program, Sur Les Deux Bayous was a great success, and LaFleur continued it each year. Word spread about the program, and eventually, other universities took part in the five-day immersion program, including New York University, Bucknell in Pennsylvania, and Tulane University. “Other universities were calling us and saying, ‘Let us know when you’re up and running, we want to come spend a week with you,’” Frugé said. “But we couldn’t advertise anything because we didn’t have anything but a program. We couldn’t host two groups at a time because we didn’t have facilities, no classrooms or lodging.” This was the spark for Frugé to consider a more robust immersion program in her small town. To meet the demand, she and George Marks, founder of NUNU, hatched a plan in 2008 to attempt to purchase the recently-closed Saint Luke’s hospital in Arnaudville, to create a state-of-the-art facility that would teach French immersion yearround, and also offer a boost to the local economy. The old hospital seemed like the perfect fit, Frugé said, as it had several wings with rooms that could serve as dorms, with a large kitchen to cater to groups. St. Luke was opened in 1968 and owned by two parishes—Saint Martin and Saint Landry—which complicated Frugé and Marks’s endeavor. Local politicians didn’t want to sell it, despite the fact that they had no plans to use it, Frugé said. So for years, it sat unused. Frugé and others spent more than a decade negotiating with the parishes


“WHEN I CAME BACK TO ARNAUDVILLE, AND I VISITED OLD RELATIVES, AND THEY SPOKE TO ME IN FRENCH, I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT ALL OVER AGAIN,” SHE SAID. “I KNEW THAT I DIDN’T WANT THAT TO DIE.”

before they finally were able to purchase the building in November 2019. During that time, however, the harsh South Louisiana climate had been less than friendly to the structure. It had developed leaks in the roof and mold inside— creating yet more work for Saint-Luc organizers. Throughout the negotiations, though, Frugé and Marks made headway by organizing a board and founding a nonprofit, and a business plan was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. As the sale went through, Frugé said that board members jumped into action— identifying grants, locating funding, and were in the process of getting a new roof. Then, in March, COVID-19 shut everything down, stalling grant applications and renovation plans. “That has impacted everything,” she

said. “We had NYU coming in March, but they canceled. Other universities were coming and canceled, as well.” Instead of giving up, Frugé has spent the months since going from room to room, cleaning as best as she can. She and a small group of local volunteers are tossing old furniture and other debris. Plans for a new roof are again in the works, and progress has been made to get plumbing and water flowing back in the building. Once that’s done, board members will be able to hire a firm to remediate the mold. Frugé is optimistic, too, because the building’s structural integrity has remained sound. “The paint on the walls, that looks brand new,” she said. Frugé insisted that despite the holdups of the past year, the project’s momentum remains strong.

Over the past year of cancelled programs and delayed funding due to the coronavirus, Mavis Frugé has used the time to clean and renovate the building that will house the future Saint-Luc Immersion Program. She’s also spent the time learning the tradition of growing and weaving coton jaune, a practice she plans to revive, along with the French language, at Saint-Luc.

“I think we can start early [in 2021] with coton jaune textile classes, spinning and weaving,” she said. “As far as having students in the building, my hope is fall 2021 or spring 2022.” Frugé said she sees her work as preservation of the culture she grew up in. But that, at the very same time, her work is rooted in continuity and advancement. After all, she said, museums are where relics are preserved, and Saint-Luc will be a place where

French can breathe new life into the state and its people. “I think there are good valid reasons to increase the use of French,” she said. “It’s a gift to be able to speak more than one language. It opens up many doors. You can travel, you can have interesting conversations with visitors. And it’s a part of our culture that we want to survive to pass that on to other generations.” h

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HISTORY OVERHE AD

The Preservationists THE CHAMPIONS OF THE FORGOTTEN PLACES

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Story by Matt A. Sheen • Photos by Alexandra Kennon

oth when at home and while abroad, people tend to visit two types of places. The first are the old-fashioned, historic sites, which exhibit charm, individuality, and character. In the second category are the modern attractions, which instead offer convenience, ubiquity, and familiarity. New Orleans is that rarest of American cities in which people tend to seek out both in equal measure. Still, at heart most folks fall into one group or the other: those drawn to the quaint storefronts installed in nineteenth century houses along Magazine Street, or those who eschew them for the outlet shopping mall by the river; those who delight in riding original streetcars, or those who merely use them to get to Harrah’s Casino; those who admire the ironwork on the galleries overlooking Bourbon Street, or those whose eyes keenly search out the neon “Daiquiri” signs. Sandra Stokes, Chair of Advocacy for the Louisiana Landmarks Society (LLS), falls squarely into the former category. “I have always found beauty along with a bit of excitement in historic architecture—in the rhythm yet individuality displayed in a row of shotgun houses, a weathered barn, or a magnificent home built with unsurpassed craftsmanship,” she 34

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said. “It’s a tangible connection to the past, like wearing your grandmother’s ring, or working at your grandfather’s desk. There is a continuity, a sense of those who were here before, still present and touching our lives.” Taking heart from instances like the community’s successful effort to stop an overhead expressway from being built straight through the French Quarter in the 1960s, Stokes holds out hope of converting people to her way of seeing. “I’d like to believe that everyone, in some way, appreciates historic architecture,” she said. “Some may have a deeper awareness of the connection to the past, of the beauty of the craftsmanship, the history embodied within, the uniqueness, the quaintness, or that it is the conglomeration of buildings in scale and context that create a tout ensemble which may touch their soul.” She noted that progress often replaces the extraordinary with the ordinary, abandoning the past rather than enlivening it. Preservation became Stokes’s focus in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when she joined a wide spectrum of people concerned with historic preservation, social justice, civil rights, land use, cultural heritage, healthcare, and fiscal responsibility,

all working together to prevent the architectural and cultural heritage of New Orleans from being destroyed. Faced with considerable pressure from the state government and other interests, they were able to prevent the demolition of Charity Hospital, a classic Art Deco building abandoned after Katrina. Despite that victory, Stokes laments that they were unable to convince the city to re-establish the hospital within the building or to prevent the demolition of the adjacent neighborhood to make way for the new Veterans Administration and university medical centers. As Executive Vice Chair of the Foundation for Historic Louisiana (now Preserve Louisiana), Stokes led a study to determine that the Charity Hospital building was structurally sound and could be retrofitted with a new state-of-the-art twenty-first century hospital inside. “You have to remember,” she explained, “There was basically no [low income] healthcare left in New Orleans [following Katrina]. We testified at the legislature, bringing in historic tax credits specialists from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the structural engineers, etc.” Jenny Dyer, Preservation Administrator of LLS, also considers the result unfortunate: ”It is rarely


Photo courtesy of the Historic New Orleans Collection.

The 1895 Holy Cross School building, designed by James Freret, made its second appearance on the “New Orleans’ Nine Most Endangered Sites” in 2020. The building has fallen into extreme disrepair, and the LLS has been campaigning to save it for years. The building is pictured on the opposite page, above and on the bottom right as it stands today. Pictured top right is how it stood in 1976, when it still functioned as a school.

discussed, but we lost a vibrant neighborhood that was finally coming back to life after Hurricane Katrina. [The loss of Charity] cost us valuable real estate, loss of neighborhood cohesion, and above all morale. Abandoning a viable site and grossly over-developing a new site for approximately one billion dollars was irresponsible and unnecessary.” According to Stokes, historic preservation is not at odds with the purported goals of most development projects. ”There seems to be a notion that preservation and affordable housing are at odds, when in fact they can and should work hand-in-hand. Historic multifamily homes have been central to affordability and workforce housing for generations,” Stokes said. “The truth is, we can easily have both.” Stokes points to the substantial loss of workforce homes and longtime businesses in the Lower Mid-City neighborhood and around the city as a result of the new hospitals being built and other big development projects. She believes pursuing such developments at the expense of preservation has contributed to decline of the city’s tax base. “We bulldozed part of Tremé for Armstrong Park, taking all of those homes off the tax roll,” she recalled. “We destroyed a neighborhood for the Claiborne Avenue Expressway, we bulldozed twenty-seven blocks of homes and businesses, many rebuilt after Katrina with state and federal money, to build two suburban-style medical complexes that do not pay taxes.” Historic preservation is a line of work that sees plenty of losses, but Stokes’ attitude remains sanguine. “There is progress along the way,” she said. ”If not allout wins–issues that can be brought to light, moments that can be savored.” Fifteen years into her work with the Landmarks Society—having served as Vice President of LLS beginning in 2013 and as President in 2016 and 2017—Stokes is occupied these days with the annual naming of New Orleans’ Nine Most Endangered Sites (a list of distressed historic properties and civic features published annually by the society since 2005) and the LLS’s Annual Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation. She has named a significant number of sites—the Saenger Theater and the St. Roch Market among them—that have since made their way from the first list to the second. “That’s success!” she declared.

Making its second appearance on the list in 2020 (the first in 2014 as part of the district named for it), is the 1895 Holy Cross School building designed by architect James Freret. Once part of a development project that faced community opposition in part because it conflicted with zoning regulations, the building has fallen into further disrepair. The owner, Angela O’Byrne of Perez, said she has run out of money to maintain it. “Often there are private owners and developers who manage important properties and our hands are tied in trying to enforce preservation and responsible use of sites,” explained Dyer, who organizes and markets the New Orleans Nine. “We started a second campaign to at least have the building stabilized. It was discovered that the roof was falling in and compromising the site. We sent out several calls to action and asked members and residents to write letters to both the owner and their councilmen and women. The response was overwhelming.” Also manager of the Pitot House Museum, a

Creole country home built in 1799, Dyer has had to contend with the additional challenges of the last few months, developing self-guided tours in response to COVID-19 and a “respectful interpretation in response to the need for diverse and inclusive historic representations.” She solicited guidance from other historic sites such as the Beauregard-Keyes House in the French Quarter, and the assistance of interns from Tulane University in interpreting tours with new and differing perspectives. Dyer says she first became interested in history

One of Sandra Stokes’ first big achievements in the world of preservation was her participation in the efforts to save the Charity Hospital building from demolition after Hurricane Katrina. Despite that victory and the many efforts that followed, activists were unable to convince the city to re-establish Charity as a state-of-the-art twenty first century hospital inside the historic Art Deco building. // F E B 2 1

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Jenny Dyer (pictured on opposite page), Preservation Administrator of the Louisiana Landmarks Society and manager at the Pitot House Museum, was first captivated by New Orleans architecture as a child growing up near historic New Orleans cemeteries.

growing up in New Orleans, which has an abundance of it. “We were surrounded by historic cemeteries and we had one practically in our backyard,” she said, referring to what she calls the cemetery “crossroads” of New Orleans, where four different cemeteries—Cypress Grove, Greenwood, Odd Fellows Rest, and St. Patrick—sit on each corner of the intersection of Canal Street and City Park Avenue. “There is a longstanding joke in New Orleans about how only someone from New Orleans would get on a bus that says it’s going to the cemeteries.” Dyer spent a lot of time in the graveyards, fascinated with the tombs, the inscriptions, and the possibilities of all of the history that resided there. “My parents cultivated that interest and brought me to all of the homes, cemeteries, sites, and museums throughout Louisiana and beyond.” After assisting in a research project to locate the burial sites of Louisiana Governors beginning with Claiborne, Dyer was inspired to earn a Master’s in Public History and accepted the position of Director of Education at the Hermann-Grima+Gallier Historic Houses upon graduation. “While history has a place in academia, I

wanted to develop knowledge and experience in how to share it with the greater public,” she said. ”And the rest is history, as they say!” For Juliette Hotard, Restoration and Volunteer Coordinator with Save Our Cemeteries, the path to historic preservation also began in the cities of the dead. “I have always appreciated how historic buildings can make one feel connected to the past,” she said. “It wasn’t until college that I realized I could make preserving the historic architecture I treasured a career.” Hotard interned with Save Our Cemeteries while majoring in Historic Preservation in college, surveying more than three hundred tombs in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 over a summer. “That was when I realized cemeteries were their own type of historic district, with different architectural styles and interesting inhabitants.” They also present their own share of challenges to preservationists. “There have been occasions where I or another group have tried to restore a tomb, but were unable to because of property laws” recalled Hotard. “About two years ago there was a beautiful tomb in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 that was on the brink of collapse due to a tree growing straight through the façade. I


proposed building supports around the tomb to stabilize it until the city, or Save Our Cemeteries, was ready to take on the responsibility of a full restoration. We were denied because neither entity owned the tomb. Less than six months later, the tomb collapsed.” If anything, structures housing only the deceased are met with even less urgency from the general public than most historic sites when it comes to preserving them. “Because a tomb is not something you use every day, or even every year,” said Hotard. “It can be hard to convince tomb owners of the importance of restoring their historic tomb, especially when it is not the tomb they plan on being interred in.” Because restoring tombs historically requires more resources in time and expensive materials, it can be even more difficult to convince owners to invest in faithful preservation. The solution to this, it seems, is to tell the stories of the individuals buried in these cemeteries. “By giving tours, Save Our Cemeteries is able to highlight the people who helped make New Orleans the city it is today,” said Hotard. Such an investment in the past, in beginnings, in roots, is a very necessary

characteristic for preservationists. “Unfortunately, there are far more failures than successes as our region’s built environment ages,” acknowledged Dyer. “As a student, my public history advisor and professor once said, ‘You can’t save everything.’ That was a hard lesson to learn and to accept, but it helped me hone my skills in being able to decipher what sites have the most farreaching impact and require the most effort in being preserved.” Equally necessary is an understanding of what’s at stake. “A quick grab for money or a quick fix without a long-term view can forever change the character of a neighborhood,” said Stokes. “And little losses that seem insignificant— just a Creole cottage here, a corner store there—add up to irreplaceable change. Visitors come to experience the authentic, and we tend to destroy the authentic to give them a revisionist caricature, a Disneyland version.” h

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Cuisine

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CRAVING KUGELHOPF?

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LADY W

C’EST FRANÇAIS

Let Them Eat Cake KUGELHOPF’S LOUISIANA BEGINNINGS

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Story and photo by Lorin Gaudin

h no, Lorin, my wise men on their long journey from Made of ceramic, the tall, round, and kugelhopf is Bethlehem. More bread than cake fluted kugelhopf pan has a hole in the from Lorraine.” (there’s even a savory version) in my center, allowing for large cakes to be These were the understanding, Kugelhopf remains baked thoroughly because heat comes commanding words of Maurice French a staple throughout Europe, though in direct contact with the middle of Pastries Chef-Owner, Jean-Luc Albin, most popular in France, Germany, the cake. How it arrived in America is as we began our conversation about the Austria, and the Alsace-Lorraine. fascinating lore in itself. Purportedly, kugelhopf ’s name, shape, and origin. Tilting his head in a very French an heirloom kugelhopf pan made it Kugelhopf is a hat-shaped cake with manner, Chef Albin gave a crooked to Minneapolis (home of bakeware storied and varied legends, including smile and said, “Pfffft...Alsatian manufacturer, Nordic Ware) and was The Variety Restaurant considered CHV’s “mothership,” promises bring oneChurch claimHill that it was giftedandtoFarm, a man kugelhopf is dryer. That is to not thefresh-fromway used by a member of a Jewish women's the-farm fine dining to the community of Church Hill and surrounding areas in 2021. who provided shelter to the three we make it in Lorraine.” group who often baked a sharing cake 38

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called a bundkuchen. Near the end of the 1940s, the women's group is said to have approached the Nordic Ware founder and requested he re-create the pretty fluted pan using contemporary materials, and thus was born the bundt pan. But kugelhopf has a Louisiana life, a history all its own. And while Chef Albin’s kugelhopf is a tweak of Chef Maurice Ravet’s original, his version has certainly carried the tradition most


famously. Chef Albin’s connection to the local kugelhopf begins in 1988 when he returned to New Orleans to work with Chef Ravet. Having begun his cooking career at the age of fourteen, Chef Albin spent many years cooking in France and the U.S. by way of Bermuda, working as a chef in Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, and Los Angeles. An opportunity to work as the food and beverage director of the Windsor Court lured him back to the Crescent City, but it was Maurice’s French Pastries that inspired him to stay. Chef Ravet had owned Maurice’s French Pastries since the late 1970s, and after only a short time working together, Chef Albin bought the bakery from Chef Maurice in March 1989. He continued making kugelhopf with one difference: he used

cake, with a slightly crunchy outside.” That didn’t describe the kugelhopf of my experience, but it was worth checking out. Just through the front doors of the Metairie bakery was a four-tiered open-shelving case stacked high with kugelhopf. I chose a currant kugelhopf, took it home, and cut into it. Chef Albin’s cake was indeed softer and sweeter—delicious—but nothing like anything I’d previously eaten or made. New Orleans tends to forge its own way in food and here is the hard fact: Maurice French Pastries’ kugelhopf is very popular. Twenty-two years later, that wooden shelf is still there, continually stocked with freshly baked cakes, available year-round, in an enormous range of flavors (around thirty!) both traditional (almond)

MORE BREAD THAN CAKE IN MY UNDERSTANDING, KUGELHOPF REMAINS A STAPLE THROUGHOUT EUROPE, THOUGH MOST POPULAR IN FRANCE, GERMANY, AUSTRIA, AND THE ALSACE-LORRAINE. TILTING HIS HEAD IN A VERY FRENCH MANNER, CHEF ALBIN GAVE A CROOKED SMILE AND SAID, “PFFFFT...ALSATIAN KUGELHOPF IS DRYER. THAT IS NOT THE WAY WE MAKE IT IN LORRAINE.”

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A B AT O N R O U G E T R A D I T I O N S I N C E 1 9 6 2 his mother’s recipe—a recipe from Lorraine, France, which included sour cream and other fresh ingredients to keep it tender and light. That very same summer, upon my return to New Orleans from culinary training in Paris, I went looking for several foods I’d often either made or eaten in France; one of those foods was kugelhopf— the dry-ish, not-toosweet, currant-studded bread-cake. My sainted mother-in-law, Janice, directed me to Maurice French Pastries, where she believed it had been invented, though she swore the cake was soft and sweet, “kind of like a pound

and imaginative (chocolate and edible gold in honor of the Saints; whiskylaced Old Fashioned Cocktail, or a licorice-y “Anis” for St. Joseph’s Day in March, for instance), and slick Goldbelly shipping to get baked goods nationwide and abroad. Vive la différence. For me, kugelhopf is meant to be drier, brioche-like and faintly sweet—the German style, if you will. However, put down a Maurice French Pastries kugelhopf, and I’m a convert, origin stories be damned. Smiling wide, Chef Albin assures me, “This is the original kugelhopf. It is French.” h

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M

y wheels spun along the cold asphalt of state Highway 24, past shipyards and trees hanging heavy with moss when out of the corner of my eye I caught a color out of place. On this gray January morning full of dull shades, the color orange popped bright in my peripheral vision. A small grove of satsuma trees sprang out from in between swampy lagoons, the bright fruit dotting the landscape like an impressionist painting. And standing there under a small pop-up tent was a white-haired lady with bright orange lipstick, waving to the passing cars. A small, handwritten sign hanging on a folding table piled high with sweet fruit read: “Satsumas. Three dollars a bag.” I spun the steering wheel and turned my car around in a muddy lot. I could already feel my cheeks puckering at the anticipation of peeling back the loose leathery skin and popping a slice

in my mouth. As I rounded the bend, I could see the lady waving me into a gravel driveway. Quick to approach my car, she flashed a friendly smile before fumbling to put on her mask. Her name is Marie Verdin, she told me in a heavy Cajun accent. “I’m known as the Orange Lady!” Warmth radiating, she said, “I used to sell satsumas down at the farmers market, but I can’t go to the farmers market anymore. My eyes are bad. So my son and daughter-in-law pick me up in the morning and bring me to the farm to sell now.” She was soft spoken, and I could barely hear her over the roaring semi trailers barrelling down the highway full of harvested sugarcane. “So, why are you called the Orange lady?” I asked. A twinkle of mischief flashed across her face. “Because no one else can sell oranges like I can!” Her family planted the trees in


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1995. And they have born fruit for twenty-one years. “This year the trees were all full, but we lost four of them during Hurricane Zeta,” she told me. “A lot of the fruit got bruised. So you gotta pick the good ones. And you leave the bad ones to fall off the trees.” I paused to ponder how that metaphor might apply to so many other things in life. She told me she was born and raised here on this farm, which has supported five generations. Most of her family has worked in the shipyards, but she was the first to sell satsumas. “You can start harvesting satsumas in September. But we don’t. We wait until late October. We want them to be good and ready. We don’t sell them until they are sweet enough.” Some of her old customers from the farmers market make their way out to the farm to buy fruit. “Some of my old customers don’t

know that I’m out here now. But oh! Do I have new customers! There’s a lot of people that pass through here. And some days I have better business here than I did at the market.” I asked her what her favorite way to eat a satsuma is. “When I’m selling I ain’t got time for no recipes. I like to eat em’ just plain. I love ‘em. I love em all.” I grabbed two bags from the table and passed her some cash. She patted me on the shoulder and thanked me. Walking away, I felt a twinge of anxiety leaving her standing there by the highway. But before I even closed my car door, another customer pulled into the gravel driveway. I unwrapped a juicy section of fruit, and the tart sweetness brought tingles to my cheeks. I pulled back out onto highway 24, Marie waving in my rearview mirror. h

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Culture

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Beyond Tribulation

THE RIVER ROAD AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM SHINES LIGHT ON BLACK PERSPECTIVES AND ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE REGION By Ariel Baise

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quaint blue building situated in the heart of Donaldsonville holds more history than one can imagine. Settled in the middle of what many call Louisiana’s “plantation country,” the River Road African American Museum (RRAAM) sets out to tell the stories and histories of the region’s Black communities—as Todd Sterling, the River Roads African American Museum’s Board President puts it: “The ascension, the success part, the family part, the cultural part, and the contributions to America and the contributions to Louisiana.” Kathe Hambrick opened the River Road African American Museum at Tezcuco Plantation in 1994 as an 42

institution to educate the community and interpret the lives of African Americans in rural South Louisiana. After a fire that destroyed Tezcuco, the museum moved to Donaldsonville in 2003, where it continues to advance this mission today, focusing on the narratives of the people and descendants who built and worked at the picturesque, grand plantation homes often seen on local tourism brochures. The museum highlights how Donaldsonville is home to many Black firsts and prominent figures in Louisiana and even America. In its Louisiana Reconstruction exhibit, the role of African Americans in local affairs during the Reconstruction period is highlighted in the story of

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Donaldsonville’s Pierre Landry, the first Black mayor in the United States. Also from Donaldsonville was the jazz musician, Plas Johnson, who played the saxophone for “The Pink Panther Theme,” and is featured in the museum’s Rural Roots of Jazz exhibit. Through exhibits like African Influences on LA Cuisine, Rural Black Doctors, Rural Folk Artists, and Louisiana Black Inventors, the museum grants recognition to the contributions of African Americans to American society, many of which went unacknowledged or uncompensated. An example that will soon be on display is the Julien Cane Planter, an early twentieth century invention of Leonard Julien Sr. that revolutionized and industrialized the sugar industry.

CADDIE

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More than just telling such stories of iconic African American figures, the RRAAM works to give light to history from a Black perspective beyond slavery and tribulation. “The main thing is to take control of our history,” said Interim Director of RRAAM and brother of the founder Darryl Hambrick. “Take control of the direction and how it plays out into our lives.” In addition to the museum’s main building, a circa 1890s restored Caribbean-style cottage called the Brazier-Watkins House, the campus includes several historic buildings significant to the history of the region. “We stand as a way to go to your community and look at historical buildings around you,” said Darryl Hambrick. “Look back at the past… to see how your community was built based on things they had to deal with.” One ongoing project of the RRAAM is the renovation of a Louisiana Rosenwald School, one of only four remaining buildings of the original four hundred constructed between 1912 and 1932 as part of the Rosenwald Schools Program, which raised schools for African American students in rural areas. The museum’s was moved in 2001 from the Romeville community in Convent, Louisiana. “It’s looking to be completed within the next three to four months,” said Darryl Hambrick in early January. “It’s a building that we have been working on for fifteen to twenty years.” Located down the street from the museum in Louisiana Square is the restored shotgun-style office of Dr. John H. Lowery, whose story is also featured in the Rural Black Doctors exhibit. Dr. Lowery, from Plaquemine, was a notable doctor who received his medical degree from New Orleans University in 1894. He served both Black and white patients in the early 1900s. Around the corner is the True Friends Benevolent Hall, a cypress wood venue built by a Black organization. The Brazier-Watkins House was where The Benevolent Society provided medical and burial insurance for local members. It served as a communal gathering place—where events such as concerts and balls and


meetings were held—during the Reconstruction era. To do this important work of preserving AfricanAmerican history, the museum collaborates on various projects with donors, such as Shell Oil Company, who partnered with the RRAAM to memorialize two slave cemeteries found in sugar cane fields. Shell donated $25,000 for the museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 2019 and $300,000 during the summer of 2020. The donations have helped the museum to move forward with finishing the Rosenwald school. Against versions of African American history that are often romanticized or whitewashed, the RRAAM has for years served as a catalyst for telling an authentic version of our history, to tell history from another perspective and open up conversations about it.

RRAM Board Members—from left to right: Juanita Pearly, Tyrone Smith, and Todd Sterling —with Interim Director Darryl Hambrick. Photo courtesy of the RRAAM.

DELIVERED D A I LY

out of the water if COVID had not been on our backs. People wanted to know this history,” said Darryl Hambrick. “People who never even thought about knowing this history are now wanting to know and go on a tour of the museum . . . It put us in a place to really soar.”

“THE MAIN THING IS TO TAKE CONTROL OF OUR HISTORY, TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE DIRECTION AND HOW IT PLAYS OUT INTO OUR LIVES.” —DARRYL HAMBRICK, In the wake of the summer of 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement, the museum received an influx of calls, visitors, and donations as more people became interested in Black history. “We had more calls and more visitors and probably would have been blown

Escapes

Having already gotten ahead of the virtual curve due to coronavirus restrictions, the museum worked to produce more virtual content, including an interview with Ambassador Harold Doley, Jr. about his purchase of Madam CJ Walker’s

mansion in Irvington, New York. To engage musicians who couldn’t perform publicly, the museum conducted interviews with musicians from Louisiana River Parishes in virtual exhibitions titled Rural Roots of Jazz and Rural Roots of Music. In the future, they hope to offer virtual versions of all of their exhibits to supplement the in-person experience. “We take our place in the pantheon of museums, said Sterling. “ We do this by talking about coming from slavery and showing the success and the growth of the AfricanAmerican community and culture post-slavery.” h

You can see the River Road African American Museum’s exhibits online, book a tour, or make a donation at africanamericanmuseum.org.

Of Louisiana’s four hundred Rosenwald Schools, there remain only four. In 2001, the RRAAM moved the Central Agricultural School to Donaldsonville from Romeville, Louisiana to save it from demolition. Twenty years later, renovations are set to be complete in 2021. Photo courtesy of the RRAAM. // F E B 2 1

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POETRY

When Cars Were America By Ed Ruzicka

Granny got a Caddie. Got a hold of gold keys given by her doctor son one Christmas.

#LANorthshore

CELEBRATE IN ST. TAMMANY Parades may be canceled, but the fun doesn’t stop in St. Tammany Parish. Find a plethora of king cake renditions, family-friendly activities, and specialty shops to keep you in the Mardi Gras spirit.

Now -2/17

Rollin’ on the 3 Rivers House Floats Parade

Now – 2/20

Krewe du Pooch Fun Walk/ Run Costume Contest, Virtual

Now – 2/20

Mardi Paws presents a Month of Mutty Gras

2/13

Corks & Cooking Valentine’s Dinner

2/13

Pelican Park’s Mutts & Milkshakes

2/7 & 2/14

Abita Springs Market Gras

Sat. & Sun., 2/13 – 2/27

The Glass Menagerie by Playmakers Community Theater

Fri. & Sat., 2/26 – 3/13

Grease the Musical by Cutting Edge Theater

Fri. - Sun., 2/26 – 3/14

Brighton Beach Memoirs by 30 x Ninety Theatre

800-634-9443 • LouisianaNorthshore.com/MardiGras

She said, “Pile in my polliwog. Pile in the back seat.” She’d fly off to Seven-Eleven for Icees after pre-school. Big air-puffed Coke, strawberry Coke, you suck down with a fat straw. Gives you shivers in your throat-back in the deep comfort of “Grannys” Cadillac. Blue as the big, blue sea, Granny’s Caddie whizzed along the fast lanes. It had photosensitivity too; a bitty-chip that shut the lights down. Shut the lights down when stubby-as-a-gremlin Granny didn’t remember to do that thing. How she grinned to tell her cousins that the M.D. son gave his mum her big, blue Caddie Christmas. Knew she knew they knew she’s the very one that made it. Became the apple in the family pie. Then went zoom-zoom on and on. —From My Life in Cars, a collection of poetry on the cultural seat of the automobile in America, written by Baton Rouge writer Ed Ruzicka and published in November 2020 by Truth Serum Press. Available at truthserumpress.net and at Cottonwood Books. Read more of Ruzicka’s poetry at edrpoet.com/poems. Photo by Charles deGravelles.

Connect with Louisiana newsmakers Join the conversation weekdays at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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PROFILES

Meadowlark Artistry

KIMBERLY MEADOWLARK IS A ONE-WOMAN SHOW, A TRIPLE THREAT, AND A VESSEL OF POSSIBILITY By Lauren Heffker

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hen the COVID-19 pandemic upended her livelihood nearly a year ago, Baton Rouge entrepreneur Kimberly Meadowlark didn’t view her circumstances through the lens of loss, but rather the open-ended opportunity of possibility. “All of my normal streams of income and clientele were just vanishing,” said the artist-slash-photographer-slash-musician (being a triple threat is a mouthful), sipping her iced matcha at a local coffee shop early in the New Year. “But I just took it and I ran with it.” When nearly all of her wedding clients had to postpone the big day—normally the bread and butter of her eponymous small business, Meadowlark Artistry— Meadowlark adapted, challenging herself to create virtual content for other clients, expand her videography skills, and take on more commercial work through collaborations with a Denham Springsbased creative agency. As a one woman show, spending less time out on shoots allowed her the bandwidth to slow down and set her intentions for the future. “I was thinking, ‘What do I want to do differently?’ And for me, I was just like ‘Let’s give music a shot.’” If there was ever a time to go for it, she had decided, it was now. Though Meadowlark has primarily kept her vocal talent offstage, songwriting has long been her personal catharsis. The singer’s Instagram is populated with videos of her in front of her keyboard, softly serenading her 13,000-plus followers with neon-backlit covers of slow burn sixties love ballads, folk country, contemporary pop— her influences fall across the board. Meadowlark’s voice is deep and full-bellied, lending the twenty-seven-year-old a dreamy and wistful sound far beyond her years, not unlike the old Hollywood glamour of Lana Del Rey, or the melancholy electropop that propelled Billie Eilish to teenage stardom (and a historic sweep of last year’s Grammy Awards). Last summer, Meadowlark flew out to California to pursue work. On the plane ride back to the land below sea level, she began working on a new song, one that she was determined would see the light of day. A week later, she met with longtime friend and Los Angeles producer Hunter Plake, who is originally from Livingston, and he brought her into the studio to see what else she could do. This year, Meadowlark is poised to debut her own original music for the first time. She describes the upcoming material—three singles to be released over the next several months, with the first in March—as a mix of lo-fi indie dream pop. With her colorful tattoo sleeves, everchanging hair (a silvery-grey metallic now after a stint with lilac), and signature dark lip, Meadowlark looks the part. Sharing her work is nothing new for the Denham Springs native, but painting in the privacy of her home and staging shoots behind the camera are a far cry from putting herself—her sound—out there, front and center stage. The anticipation of being so vulnerable in such a different, public way is a daunting prospect, but a thrilling one, too. “I’m very confident in the quality of the product that I’m creating,” Meadowlark said. “A lot of people have been waiting for this and telling me to do this for so many years; it almost feels like their idea. It’s a weird feeling. I haven’t had this nervousness in a long time.” Since childhood, Meadowlark explained, she’s always felt things deeply; as an adult, she considers herself an empath. Art gives her an outlet to express herself when she feels the world is too much, too sharp. She attributes the source of inspiration for her vibrant, abstract style to a near-preternatural ability known as synesthesia, a kind of cognitive crossing of wires in which one kind of stimulation evokes the sensation

of another. Put more succinctly, Meadowlark can hear colors. Whereas most people process sound auditorily, she experiences it both acoustically and visually; a crescendoing chorus can inspire a stroke of bold red here, a burst of violet there. In August of 2019, the artist gave a glimpse into the depths of her mind’s eye with an interactive art showcase at The Market at Circa 1857. Entitled Synesthesia, the monthlong show was designed as an immersive event where people could experience the songs that inspired each work through accompanying headphone sets. When she isn’t recording in the studio or editing footage post-production, Meadowlark has been preparing for an upcoming joint exhibition at Hammond Regional Arts Center. The art show, aptly titled Wild & Free, will have a five-week run later this spring featuring Meadowlark alongside fellow abstract artist April Hammock. Hunched over the gallery-wrapped canvas on her living room floor with bottles of paint and gold leaf spread haphazardly while her three-and-a-half-year-old son, Levi, finger paints his own printer paper masterpiece beside her—it’s a simple scene that embodies the realization of a dream she couldn’t have imagined would be within reach just a few short years ago. “There was a while where I didn’t even think // F E B 2 1

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art was going to be an option,” she said. “I didn’t think that it was going to be fruitful, but he just instilled this motivation in me.” The pieces of this life she built for herself didn’t just fall into place, though. Steeped in the Baton Rouge arts scene, it took Meadowlark years of steadily gaining a following and building her portfolio one booking and commission at a time in order to become one of the region’s most sought after creatives today. Making the decision to pursue art and photography full time in 2016 while simultaneously juggling the demands of new motherhood with the pressure to provide was not an easy call to make, she remembers. “It gave me this kind of identity crisis,” Meadowlark recalled. “Like okay, so what do I do now? Do I continue trying to do these things, or do I need to go get an office job? What is the right thing?” She’s not second guessing herself anymore. If six years of specializing in wedding photography has taught her anything, it’s that she thrives in the midst of organized chaos—which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the trajectory of Meadowlark’s career thus far has hinged upon her embrace of the unknown. “It’s definitely gotten to the point where people just trust me,” she said. “I love capturing every little moment that people forget, the ones they’re not even fully present for because they’re focusing on making sure everything is to the nines.” Looking back on what turned out to be her most emotionally demanding, yet creatively fulfilling—and financially successful—year yet (her pandemic pivoting paid off), Meadowlark is reluctant to give herself too much credit. As an artist, she knows the hustle always has more to teach her: how to work smarter instead of harder, to trust herself to keep taking risks and going all in, to respect the creative process and to remember that some projects can be kept for herself until she’s ready to share them with the world. The end result is making something she can be proud of; something lasting. “I’m so satisfied with the work itself that I don’t need to broadcast it. I was just very quietly happy with what I was making, and that was a new thing for me,” she said. “It’s never been in that place for me to silently create. I really set everything up in 2020, and now it’s all coming to fruition.” h Wedding photo courtesy of Madison and Alec Gravelle, by Kimberly Meadowlark. All other images courtesy of Kimberly Meadowlark.

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meadowlarkartistry.com


INQUIRIES

Going Virtual

A CONVERSATION WITH SUSAN GOTTARDI ON THE SHIFT TO ONLINE ART EXHIBITIONS AT THE HILLIARD

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By James Fox-Smith nyone who thinks the arts are optional for a well-functioning society need only imagine how much bleaker 2020 would have been without the movies, books, music, and works of visual art that helped us make sense of things during lockdown. Yet as the tidal wave of the pandemic has swamped large parts of the economy, one of the sectors to suffer most has been that of visual arts institutions. Fortunately, the people who run our museums and galleries are a creative bunch who have been quick to adapt, developing effective means of bringing exhibits to life online. One institution successfully navigating the transition from the physical exhibit to the virtual is the Hilliard Art Museum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which launched its first fully virtual exhibit, Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana, in September 2020 (it runs through February 27). To learn how one museum is successfully translating an exhibit to the virtual realm, we spoke with Susie Gottardi, the Hilliard’s Marketing Manager. Here are excerpts of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity. CR: So Acadian Brown Cotton was the museum’s first truly virtual exhibit. Did you start out envisaging it that way? Or did it begin as a more traditional exhibit? SG: Acadian Brown Cotton was actually planned nearly three years ago. We received funding from a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to cover fabrication, photography, cultural stewardship, and education; and had originally planned to use this to bring the exhibit to satellite locations around Louisiana. We were already thinking ‘How can we make this exhibit most accessible?’ But COVID had other plans. CR: When it came to figuring out how to deliver a meaningful exhibit experience virtually, what did you need to think differently about? SG: There were different tools and technology. To capture the experience of being within the exhibit space, we created a 360-degree virtual tour, which used this cool, basketball-shaped sphere with lenses on eight surfaces. You put it in the middle of the gallery and it captures the whole room, allowing viewers to navigate the space.

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CR: The exhibit interweaves folklore, anthropology, economics, and art history. How do you reflect that online, as opposed to in the flesh, so-to-speak? SG: This particular exhibit was very intentionally laid thinking about how people would move through the space. So on our website, we created a sitewithin-a-site, which was a place to provide lots of different ways to explore the subject. As well as the virtual tour, visitors will find video walk-throughs, artist interviews, tons of different educational materials, and lots of curricula, too. CR: What could you do with a virtual exhibit, that you can’t do with an in-person exhibit? SG: We could do a lot with the close-up detail imagery of pieces in the exhibit. We always take detailed photographs, but these are not typically things that would be shared with the public. It’s also allowed us to deliver a simulated guided experience that we couldn’t provide otherwise. So we can make experts available to viewers in a different, more intimate way. CR: What has the initial response been like? SG: The reach and the engagement we’ve been able to achieve has been very encouraging. In its first week, the Acadian Brown Cotton website received more than two thousand visitors. Our website usage is up 20% from 2019, and the engagement with our digital community on Facebook has been explosive. We currently reach roughly fifteen thousand individuals on a weekly basis as compared with less than a thousand during the same period last year—a comical, and exciting, 1400% increase.

HAPPY HOUR

47PM MONSAT

CR: Once the pandemic is behind us, are there things the museum has learned to do differently that you think will endure? SG: “We can’t unring the bell on digital programming. Even as people start to come back to the museum I think they’ll still expect to be able to extend their museum experience further. So maybe now, as well as a guided gallery tour with the curator, there’ll be a Facebook Live curator-led tour. The whole experience has made our staff more conscious of our audience in a different way. The team has come together to think differently about content and how we present it. That awareness of the community around us definitely helps us serve them better. h

hilliardmuseum.org

5621 G S, B R . // F E B 2 1

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Escapes

F E B R U A RY 2 0 2 1 48

MEAD, COCA-COLA, AND

IN

M O N R O E - W E S T M O N R O E //

MUSCADINE WINE

(PLUS

MUSEUMS

AND

N OT H I N ’ L I K E N E L A PLENTY MORE)

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Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge The Biedenharn House

WORTH THE TRIP

My, Oh, My Monroe

THE LOCAL’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO NORTHEAST LOUISIANA’S BEST By Mackenzie Treadwell Ernst 48

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Hamilton House Inn

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rowing up, I bought into that familiar teenage idea of one’s hometown: Monroe was boring, there was nothing to do, on went my list of youthful grievances. While my days were certainly filled with unexpected “happies” here and there, I thought Monroe itself had shown me all I could see. And so, I packed my bags for Louisiana State University, and thought confidently about never coming back. In Baton Rouge, I was excited by the bustling city life. Five years separated from that rush, however, and settled back in Monroe where I began, I’ve started to see so much that I hadn’t before. It turns out this little Northeast Louisiana town is full of stories, rich in history, surrounded by gorgeous landscape, and infused with pride. Returning home has felt like a Renaissance, a rediscovery. And I want nothing more than to share it. Photos courtesy of Monroe-West Monroe CVB.


Where to Stay: Hamilton House Inn

I cannot bring anyone to Monroe without recommending Hamilton House Inn in West Monroe. Originally the Webb Hotel, this Romanesque Revivalstyle bed and breakfast began operating under the name Hamilton House in 2011 and has served as both lodging and an event space for locals and tourists alike. I brought my husband Tim here for a staycation on his birthday, and we absolutely loved it. All rooms—each with its own unique personality—are incorporated under one roof on the second floor, which leads to a posh shared kitchen and dining area complete with a beautiful balcony. The owners ensured we enjoyed the luxury of a modern hotel stay with the quality and care of the sweetest B&B we’ve ever been to. The best part about staying here, though, is the location. You’re right on Antique Alley in Downtown West Monroe; the first stop on your journey.

hamiltonhouseinn.com

Day 1

Breakfast: Caster and Chicory

Once you wake up, you have the option to enjoy Hamilton House’s complimentary breakfast, but I actually recommend walking over to the bright red food truck down the street. At the Caster and Chicory bakery truck, you’ll find a piping hot cup of coffee ready to complement their homemade beignets. Owners Jordan and Joel Myers began their food truck endeavor in 2015, and I have vivid memories of people eagerly scrolling through their early morning newsfeeds to see if the food truck would be parked somewhere close to them. On those lucky occasions, we’d all scramble over to try and snag some of their coveted pastries. Now their brick and mortar, which opened in 2019, also offers a myriad of delicacies, like creamy cinnamon rolls, breads, and one of the most coveted king cakes in North Louisiana from Christmas to Mardi Gras.

facebook.com/casterandchicory

Antique Alley

Once you’ve kicked off your morning with a sugar high, you’ll be ready to tackle Antique Alley. Starting at the top with Cotton Port Antique Mall, you’ll discover the impossibly-vast buildings filled with a hybrid of both old and new items from local booth owners stationed inside. As you peruse each store, take the time to wander aimlessly between the mazes of furniture, books, vinyl, postcards, teacups, and everything in between. I always find myself enchanted when inside, imagining the detailed histories and stories behind each item, stories that now I—even if just for a moment—am a part of. I’ll never forget the collection of birthday cards I once found, chronicling the passing years between a loving husband and wife, each one ending with “love you always”; or the sets of cookbooks with writing from owners past, annotating their secret family recipes. In my house hangs a stained-glass Coca-

Cola I once found here, my own little treasure from Antique Alley. Besides antique stores, “The Alley” also hosts a few sports boutiques and local shops, including a favorite of mine: The Spice & Tea Exchange. Enveloping you with robust combinations of scents and flavors from the moment you set foot in the building, The Spice & Tea Exchange presents wall-to-wall-to-wall spices, sugars, herbs, and teas; along with a plethora of delicate and adorable teapots and cups, soy candles, and spice blends cultivated in the area. The kind staff is always willing to take you through each and every corner of their store, so be sure to let them know it’s your first time. Before leaving the Alley, make sure to pick up a pamphlet on The Herons on the Bayou, found in many of the store fronts. If you haven’t noticed yet, people-sized painted heron sculptures are popping up all over Ouachita Parish. The public art project features sculptures sponsored by local businesses and designed by local artists, and genuinely adds a fun surprise to my day each time I find a new one displayed in town. The pamphlet notes where each heron can be found at the time of printing, adding an extra element of adventure during your time in Northeast Louisiana.

antiquealleyshops.org spiceandtea.com/west-monroe facebook.com/heronsonthebayou

Two Warriors Meadery

Now, before lunch, I must mention (and perhaps boast of) Louisiana’s only meadery, which resides right off of Antique Alley. Two Warriors Meadery was created by two Army veterans, Curtis Sims and Cameron Myers, who wanted to bring the forgotten art of mead brewing to the area. Mead, or “mjod” … as the Vikings once called it, is a delicious brew distilled from fermented honey and water, which archaeologists believe might have been the first kind of alcoholic beverage intentionally created by man. While getting to experience the diverse collection of smooth and aromatic drinks myself, Sims emphasized that their primary focus is to keep it local: each mead is sourced from local bees’ honey, every fruit infusion is from a local farm, and furthermore, a portion of their proceeds goes toward local veteran charities. Be warned—you will definitely be leaving this fun pit stop with a bottle to take home.

twowarriorsmeadery.com

Parish Restaurant

Herons on the Bayou

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Downtown Monroe

Lunch in NELA For lunch, both Monroe and West Monroe’s downtown areas offer plenty of options. If you’re looking to stick on the West Monroe side, you can’t go wrong with a classic chili cheese dog at Coney Island or seafood nachos at Trapp’s on the River, which resides on the Endom Bridge and offers a great view of the river. If you go ahead and cross the Ouachita River, Downtown Monroe (or DOMO) has seen immense growth in the past few years with new shops, bright murals, and several new favorite restaurants like 2Dude’s Brew & Que and Nolan’s Pop Up Bistro. Don’t forget to look out for a few painted herons while you’re there. If you’re willing to drive a little out of downtown, some of my favorite lunch haunts include La Catrina, a newer, authentic Mexican restaurant with tacos that my friends and I dream about for days afterward; Not Just Pie, whose chefs make a mean roast beef po-boy and pies you’ll miraculously find yourself making room for; and the Coffee Bean, a bustling cafe that is home to my all-time favorite chicken salad (get the Waldorf wrap, you can thank me later).

facebook.com/West-Monroe-Coney-Island -21465847199 trappsontheriver.com facebook.com/2DudesMonroe facebook.com/thePopUpbistro facebook.com/lacatrinataqueriawm facebook.com/Not-Just-Pie-100859779958558 facebook.com/cafethecoffeebean

Museums The Biedenharn House and Gardens, The Coca-Cola Museum The Bible Leaflet Museum

All housed on Riverside drive, these three institutions are interconnected through a shared history. Joseph Augustus Biedenharn was the first to bottle the bubbly drink that had previously only been made in soda shops with carbonated water and syrup. Armed with a family business in the confectionary world and a growing bottling company, “Mr. Joe” as he was known, bought a Coca-Cola bottling factory in Monroe—the beginning of the Coca-Cola franchise we know today. Beginning at the Coke Museum, you’ll get a history of the Biedenharn family from their resident “Soda Jerk” Gary Salazar. Make sure to bring a nickel to get your very own glass-bottled soda! From there, you’ll move to the Biedenharn house and gardens, which emulate those found in Europe. You’ll get a tour through the house that Mr. Joe’s daughter and world-famous opera singer, Emmy Lou, developed and styled based on her travels while on tour. Remarkably, many of the items found in the painted portraits on the walls are usually sitting right in front of the image. To me, this gave the whole experience a “history jumping into life” quality that has stuck with me. Emmy Lou, a devout Christian, also began a Bible collection during her lifetime. After the house, you’ll have the opportunity to experience how that collection has grown into an impressive museum filled with figures, religious artworks, and Bible leaflets, including one from the Gutenberg Bible.

bmuseum.org

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Masur Museum of Art

From the Biedenharn, head down South Grand. This is a quick but beautiful drive that displays glorious architectural structures like Layton Castle and the G.B. Cooley House, which Director of the Masur Museum Evelyn Stewart informed me was designed by Walter Burley Griffin and is one of the only Prairie School style buildings in the South. Additionally, she recommended making the block from the museum down South Grand around to St. John to see over ten different architectural styles all in one area. The museum itself is Modified Tudor style—originally a residential building that was donated to the City of Monroe to be an art gallery in 1963. The museum still holds onto its Southern charm in the original and incredibly ornate fireplaces and mezzanine flooring, but, through lighting and the efforts of the dedicated staff, possesses an elevated aura of a modern gallery. Throughout its history, the museum has presented a vast and eclectic series of exhibitions, featuring diverse styles and mediums. Depending on the time of year you visit and COVID-19 restrictions, the museum puts on several events, including a silent auction fundraiser called Off the Wall in the spring and a block party called Party 318 in October. Additionally, Stewart informed me the museum provides art classes, both for children and adults, and other events that relate to the exhibits they are currently featuring. While the museum itself is currently under repairs caused by a tornado during the spring of 2020, they will hold their Juried Competition, the largest exhibition of the year, in late February through a partnership with the Northeast Louisiana Delta’s African American Heritage Museum. Exhibitions will (hopefully!) be held at the Masur again beginning in May, so be sure to check their website for updates and upcoming events.

masurmuseum.org

Dinner Downtown

After a day of exploration in every sense of the word, you’ve earned yourself a proper dinner. I invite you to try Parish, a fine dining experience from the mind of Chef Corey Bahr, a Monroe native and avid advocate for local culinary development. When my husband and I visited in October, we were blown away by not only the care that had gone into curating a seasonal menu, but the knowledge of the staff who educated us on every dish to further immerse us in the experience. While I sipped on a spiced apple martini, Tim enjoyed the hearty flavor of an Oktoberfest beer as we devoured our duck wraps doused in a perfectly sweet, tangy sauce. Let me tell you, it took everything in us to refrain from licking the plate at the end. While Parish is dazzling, it does come with a sizable price tag, so if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, I’ve got you covered. Also found downtown is the Warehouse No. 1, a historic building right on the edge of the Ouachita River. Here, you’ll witness a rainbow of sun and color dance over the river while enjoying a classic elevation of Louisiana cooking. If you’d like a drink before or after dinner, Brass Monkey Pub & Patio and Five19 Tap House are side-by-side bars that have a very cool, steam-punk kind of feel right down Desiard. Then there is Enoch’s Irish Pub: this fantastic pub is filled with locals who treat each other like family, and they are always more than welcoming to anyone willing to join. They have burgers, cheese fries, and be sure to check out their schedule


The Coke Museum

for local music ranging from indie to rock to what I can only describe as unicorn pop.

parishrestaurant.com warehouseno1.com facebook.com/Brassmonkeymonroe facebook.com/five19taphouse facebook.com/EnochsIrishPub

Day 2

Breakfast: Lea’s of Lecompte

On Fridays, my friends and I always (try to) wake up early enough to meet at Lea’s of Lecompte before work. After only a few such visits, they started to treat us like regulars. Lea’s has incredible coffee, orange juice in a frozen glass—which, believe me, makes all the difference—pancakes the size of your head, and savory, spicy hash browns that are to die for.

leaslunchroom.com

Outdoor Adventures: Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Kiroli Park

Order whatever you want; you’ll undoubtedly work it off with a day exploring Monroe’s beloved outdoors facilities. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge is north of town heading towards a growing village called Sterlington. Black Bayou has several gorgeous walking trails, complete with educational placards along the way. Lighting at any time of the day is breathtaking and truly exhibits the beauty of Louisiana. You can also rent or bring your own canoes to get a closer look at some of the wildlife and foliage not seen from the piers. If you’re looking for a quicker outdoor exploration, the 150-acre Kiroli Park out of West Monroe also has several beautiful walking trails that are exactly the enchanting escape from the city you never knew you needed. Growing up, I adored visiting the green house they maintain, as well as the train caboose that delighted my imagination.

fws.gov/refuge/black_bayou_lake facebook.com/kirolipark

Landry Vineyards

This family-owned-and-operated vineyard welcomes visitors for wine tastings and tours to showcase their numerous wines, including some that expertly compliment Louisiana cooking like the Blanc Du Bois, or others like the Sweet Dixie White Muscadine, which highlight a grape native to the region. Be sure to check out their website for hours and fees, and if your timing’s right, you might also find yourself at one of the concerts the vineyard often hosts for locals.

landryvineyards.com

More Museums University of Louisiana at Monroe Museum of Natural History

If you’re still up for more exploring, head further down Desiard towards the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where you can check out the Museum of Natural History on campus. This museum displays a large collection of artifacts and

Kiroli Park, courtesy of the City of West Monroe

specimens ranging from modern day to prehistoric. Before you leave, be sure to take in the bayou and cypress trees surrounding campus, which are adored by the students and faculty alike.

ulm-mnh.com

Chennault Aviation and Military Museum

Residing in one of the last school buildings from the Selman Field Navigational School, this museum “honors veterans and soldiers from WWI through Iraqi Freedom” and highlights the efforts of General Claire Chennault and the Flying Tigers during WWII. The museum emphasizes the importance of Northeast Louisiana’s involvement in military aviation and the development of Delta Airlines from a cropdusting operation to one of the largest airlines in the world. This stop is adored by locals, and a veteran recently told me how much the experience meant to him. chennaultmuseum.org

Lunch on the Bayou From the University, grab lunch at any of the places residing on the bayou—I suggest Waterfront Grill or Catahoula’s. An old favorite, Waterfront Grill has been serving Monroe Louisianan cuisine since 1997, and the view from the balcony seating is incredible at any time of the day. Catahoula’s sports burgers and sandwiches are perfect for a quick grab-and-go lunch, or to accompany an optimal view of the river. Further down resides Danken Trail—whose classic barbeque I grew up eating— featuring beef, pork, chicken, a plethora of sides, and a thin, tangy barbeque sauce my siblings and I used to practically drink. For coffee or even a lighter lunch, stop at Bayou Brew House. During the summer, my friend Katy and I lived at this place, and the staff’s friendly nature perfectly complements the space’s homey feel. We loved that we could walk in and post up in a corner booth for hours, enjoying each other’s company with perfectly-crafted lattés and muffins. They also offer lunch options, including soups and a highly-recommended club sandwich.

facebook.com/catahoulas318 dankentrail.com bayoubrewhousecoffee.com

Returning home to Monroe was returning to a city that has not only grown, but a city that has always been resilient and filled with history and creativity. And this isn’t even all of it! Sometimes, we’ve got to take a second look at the places around us to realize that even the smallest interactions, events, and histories can be treated as such uncovered treasures. I want to leave you with this: Monroe is an ever-changing city filled with endless eateries, shops, boutiques, and ultimately wonderful people who love their city, and it will honestly serve you best to come and discover it for yourself.

monroe-westmonroe.org

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Elizabethan Gallery

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P E R S P E C T I V E S : I M A G E S O F O U R S TAT E

Terrance Osborne NEW ORLEANS CULTURE, CONCENTRATED By Alexandra Kennon

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Terrance Osborne,“Throw Me Somethin’ Mistah!,” 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

tepping into the Terrance Osborne Gallery on Magazine Street feels like the visual equivalent of participating in a second line. Much like New Orleans brass band music, Osborne’s work is bold and vibrant, grabbing viewers and pulling them in, demanding their participation as loudly and warmly as a trumpet line or a bass drumbeat. His colorful acrylic paintings made on sheets of plywood are the focal point (he began painting on wood in college because it was cheaper than canvas, and still prefers it). Sight is not the only sense the gallery engages, however: lavender essential oils permeate the air, a lush red shag rug blankets the floor, and if second line music isn’t playing from the speakers, then it’s an energetic hit from the likes of Anderson .Paak or Beyoncé. A graduate of Xavier University, Osborne—a New Orleans native—began his career as an art teacher with aspirations towards becoming a full-time artist, but a family to support. “After Katrina hit, that was my opportunity, which I was not willing to take at first,” Osborne said. But while evacuated to rural Georgia after the storm, his wife Stephanie, a meditation guide who leads sessions from the gallery today (hence the lavender scent and cozy rug for floor-sitting), encouraged him to focus on his artwork rather than seeking out another teaching job. “I wasn’t really for that, because I was afraid, really,” Osborne admitted. But a commission came, and when he completed that another came, then another. Eventually, a full year passed of Osborne solely creating artwork. “So fast forward, and I’ve never stopped,” Osborne said in his 54

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matter-of-fact, humble manner. Having accomplished the ultimate success of building a career founded on his passion, Osborne encourages everyone to pursue what they love. “Because if you’re doing what you love, then you’re happy. And then you push that out to the world, then other people get to enjoy what you’re doing.” These days, his commissions have grown to include five Jazz and Heritage Festival posters (one of the highest honors for a New Orleans artist), as well as partnerships with major national companies like Coca Cola and Heineken. Companies seek Osborne out because his artwork shouts “New Orleans”; the city he was born and raised in permeates nearly all of his work. He has a knack for taking the most iconic aspects of his city—its shapes, its flavors, its personalities—condensing them down to their truest, brightest form, and putting them on display. Second lines, shotgun houses, crawfish “berls,” and Mardi Gras revelers abound, because, Osborne explained, all of these icons are deeply woven into his memories. Finding most of his footing in the Tremé neighborhood, experiences playing underneath his family’s raised house sparked a fascination with New Orleans architecture so evident in many of his paintings. “And it’s also sort of rustic, no lines are straight. And you know, it’s a little bit rigid, and just powerfully colorful…. just like New Orleans.” Like anyone raised in the Crescent City, Osborne has fond memories of attending Mardi Gras parades as a kid, and the energy of those experiences on the parade route has stayed with him. “I was like every child, frantically trying to get the beads,” he chuckled. “So I guess that is the energy I like to capture. Most of my

appreciation came later though, because as a kid you’re not really processing it. That’s just part of your world and your culture. As an adult, I have a double appreciation for it. The art of it is fascinating—the work that they do to the floats.” A more recent work from 2020, titled “Throw Me Somethin’ Mistah!” depicts a woman bedecked in purple, green, and gold with a blue wig, gold-toothedmouth agape in an exuberant smile, arms stretched wide to catch beads, just behind an N.O.P.D. parade barricade. “Everybody’s seen that lady,” Osborne said matter-of-factly. “So, she encompasses an energy of Mardi Gras…I’m more interested in sort of a general character that people can tie into to understand the culture.” As for approaching an unusually quiet Mardi Gras this year, Osborne seems at peace with the idea. “Just stay inside. That’s all,” he stressed. “If you have a balcony, stand on it and throw beads to your kids. Do something else until we get past this…we want a Mardi Gras in 2022, so let’s stay inside and take care of ourselves.” He also reminds us, in his humble way, that artists like himself create Mardi Gras imagery that can be enjoyed from the safety of home: “You don’t need to go out to appreciate it.” h

Don’t miss Osborne’s profile on LPB’s Art Rocks on Friday, February 5 at 8:30 pm, repeating Sunday, February 6 at 5:30 pm. lpb.org/artrocks. The Terrance Osborne Gallery 3029 Magazine Street New Orleans LA 70115 terranceosborne.com


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