Art & Architecture: Architecture Flourish in New Orleans

Posted on: Jul 01 2005 | Posted in: Archive


Whether it’s art or architecture, with either a capital or lower case “A,” New Orleans has a taste for design. From the grandiose steel masterpiece that is the Louisiana Superdome to the un-ending details of a wrought iron balcony in the French Quarter, there’s remarkable design everywhere you look in the Crescent City. From murals to canvasses, old European masters or new Southern folk artists, New Orleanians have an eye for art.
August sees the art season open early in New Orleans. The White Linen Night party in the arts district kicks off a new season of shows. The New Orleans Triennial show of Southern print-making at the New Orleans Museum of Art shows how New Orleans place as a regional arts center. And it all fits in against a backdrop of public art and architecture, from the sculpture garden in City Park to the new museums downtown, including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Louisiana Artworks complex under construction.
ART IN THE STREETS - White Linen Celebrates the Opening of the Arts Season
New Orleans has a vibrant contemporary art scene. The art season gets going with a party and fundraiser for the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) called White Linen Night August 6, 6 pm till). The evening is a block party in the arts district followed by a party in the CAC.
The 11th annual White Linen Night is a back to basics event, returning to its original concept of an elegant evening in the arts district. In recent years, the organizers felt the party was beginning to overshadow the art. They expect a large crowd like last year’s estimated 20,000 visitors, and have planned accordingly with food and bar booths stationed along Julia Street in the evening. But the entertainment is limited to acoustic music instead of the more concert-oriented performances in recent years.
The galleries (receptions open 6 - 9 pm) will display a wide variety of art from New Orleans, regional and international artists.
The contemporary art scene in New Orleans took off in the mid-80s. Before that, the French Quarter was home to most of the city’s galleries and they generally featured classical and established artists.
Now contemporary art galleries are most heavily concentrated in the Arts District but there are galleries throughout the city. Galleries in the French Quarter and up Magazine Street are also taking creative approaches to art, multi-media and connecting with art audiences. The French Quarter gallery Royalblues Gallery brings together art and music, most often through photography. Their August show features paintings from a book about Stevie Wonder. The opening reception (Friday, 8/5, 6-8 pm) features live music. In a gallery back in the Arts District, food meets art as chefs create chocolate and sugar sculpture on White Linen Night. The New Orleans Glasswork and Printmaking Studio presents that very tempting show to art lovers.
COLLECTOR’S ITEM'S - New Orleans’ Art Museums
Philanthropy and public support have provided New Orleans with some excellent museum facilities. In recent years, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden have opened and significantly raised the city’s profile as an arts destination. They join the New Orleans Museum of Art which originally opened in 1911 with the generous support of Isaac Delgado.
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art - 925 Camp Street, 504-539-9600
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is the state of Louisiana’s first Smithsonian Institution-affiliated museum. The private collections of Roger Ogden became the foundation for the museum’s construction and growth. The museum’s permanent collections cover all mediums of art produced by Southern artists and concerning Southern subjects from the 17th century through contemporary art. Current temporary exhibitions include Renee Stout’s mixed media and Errol Barron’s paintings and sketchbooks.
Besthoff Sculpture Garden - City Park off Esplanade Ave., 504-488-2631
When the Besthoff Sculpture Garden opened it was already a premier national collection of modern sculpture. Valued at more than $25 million, 60 pieces are spread over five beautifully landscaped acres adjoining the New Orleans Museum of Art. Modern masters represented include Jacques Lipchitz, Fernando Botero, Henry Moore, Louis Bourgeois, Masayuki Nagare and many more. Entrance to the sculpture garden is free.
The New Orleans Museum of Art - City Park off Esplanade Ave., 504-488-2631
The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) has collections in fine art and fine craft as well as cultural art from around the world, especially Africa. In recent years, the museum has presented stunning traveling shows including Egyptian antiquities, a show of the treasured personal art and wealth of Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon and Josephine Bonapart to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase, major folk art exhibitions, and classical works by Edgar Degas and Russian imperial jeweler Peter Carl Faberge. In August, NOMA presents a survey or Southern printmakers.
DISTINGUISHING MARKS - New Orleans’ Distinguished Architecture
New Orleans has a very distinct look. Most of its architecture is the smaller scale variety that distinguishes individual homes and rows of townhouses. Only the Louisiana Superdome and the St. Louis Cathedral, which is modest by cathedral standards, really stand out as large buildings. But the details of French Quarter cast iron balconies and the brackets and ornamentation on even the most modest houses give New Orleans a look all its own. These are some of New Orleans notable buildings and districts.
The French Quarter 
The French Quarter is dominated by Spanish architectural styles. After two major fires destroyed most of the original French buildings in 1788 and 1794, the city was rebuilt. But the city was ruled by Spain at the time and the favored styles came from their architects.
The St. Louis Cathedral 
The current Greek Revival-styled cathedral was the third version of the head of the diocese. It was built in 1850 to accommodate a growing parish.
The Pontalba Buildings 
Jackson Square features two opposing rows of townhouses. They were the first urban rowhouses built in the United States. They are named for the Baroness Pontalba, who presided over their construction in the 1850s.
The Garden District 
The Garden District, Uptown from St. Charles Avenue to Magazine Street and Josephine Street to Louisiana Avenue, was once the separate city of Lafayette. Most of Uptown was incorporated into New Orleans by the 1870s. Its grand homes are typically built in Gothic Revival and Victorian styles.
The Louisiana Superdome 
Completed in 1975, the Louisiana Superdome was the world’s largest enclosed sports arena when it was completed. It allowed the city to gain a professional football franchise, the New Orleans Saints, and has hosted all types of sports, concerts and other events.