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Dirty Linen Night
Quarter Rats Crawl Art on Royal
Indulge in a French Quarter night stroll on Royal Street with wine, food, and art this Saturday at Dirty Linen Night. As the French Quarter’s response to Julia Street’s “White Linen Night”, Dirty Linen Night affords New Orleanians the opportunity to pull last week's suit out of the hamper, save some quarters set aside for the Laundromat, and saunter down the Royal Street Artist’s District’s array of galleries and shops, all while enjoying some liberating libations.
From 6pm-10pm, the 200 to 1000 blocks of Royal Street will become a pedestrian walkway, thus eliminating any fear stumbling art viewers may have of oncoming traffic. (Bicyclists beware, the police crackdown on cycling in walkways will be in full effect.)
It’s a rare occasion that people get to mingle with Royal Street artists underneath the French Quarter street lights. However, this event, situated within the city’s historically slowest and hottest month, gives locals a chance to experience the idiosyncratic depictions of some of New Orleans’ most creative minds. And, more to the point, it is an opportunity to mingle without the pretense that downtowners accuse a certain Julia Street event of incubating. In short, the night is an eclectic mix: part pub crawl, part salon. and part booster sale.
Alex Beard will be in his studio on the 700 block working on a series of paintings of pelicans for the Pelican Club.
“I love Dirty Linen Night. It’s raunchy, and it’s crowded, and it’s real,” Beard said. “To me, it’s the beginning of the year. Dirty Linen Night is the night that the new cycle begins, and it begins in such a great, sloppy way.”
Beard uses oil paintings, ink drawings, and books to tell stories. The majority of his oil paintings are often focused on animals in nature in a style he calls “abstract naturalism.” From egrets to octopus, these animals can be intertwined in salient coloring and become united in a story of universal synergism.
“In those paintings, I’m more often then not, looking for the inherent way things in nature move,” he said.
Beard has traveled to many places around the world, often purposefully going where there are more animals than humans, and he held, “I found the farther afield I go, the more similarities that there are to the way we perceive ourselves in relationship to our surroundings, in particular in reference to the way that things move.”
“For example,” he continued, “dolphins swim across the surface of the water in the same way that gazelles prance across the veldt. And in the context of being a painter, it begs the question why that is.” He also said, “One has to ask why is the spiral in the seashell exactly the same shape as the largest arms of the galaxy that we can imagine.”
An important part of what Alex Beard does is making his art accessible to many people, and one of the ways he said he achieves this idea is by making his environment as comfortable as possible for anybody to walk in the door.
“I love being surrounded by people while I’m painting and letting them interact with me.”
The Royal Street location also provides Beard an opportunity to reach a large number of people as the street’s eccentricities quite frequently capture the attention of French Quarter visitors.
Beard describe Royal Street as having “a combination of entrepreneurs trying stake their tent poles, the old guard that’s trying to hold onto their real estate, quite a lot of back alley intrigue, and then mixed into all that, the carnival atmosphere.”
Dirty Linen Night has many other galleries to offer as well including Windsor Fine Art, which features masterpieces by well known artists such Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, as well as New Orleans’ own Alan Flattman whose pastel paintings were described by art consultant Deanne Martin as “really capturing the true essence of New Orleans, from the mood, to the colors, and even the wetness of the streets.” For Dirty Linen Night only, Windsor Fine Art brings in the works of local artists Kristen Wolfson and Stephen Rue, whose Funky Rouxster series of quirky New Orleans themed roosters is always an interesting attraction.
Studio 831 features, among other things, local artist Steve Martin’s wire art and Aaron Reichert’s acrylic on canvas portraits.
The Msaniart Gallery at 823 Royal is home to the paintings of Cameroon born artist, Mohamadou Sani, who moved to New Orleans in 2000. His painting “Elevation Time” was featured in “Where” magazine and depicts a silhouetted trumpet player standing on a pirogue below colorful French Quarter houses that have been lifted above the water.
Christy Works-Boutte will be signing her work at PK gallery, and posters from the Golden Age of Advertising (1880s-1940s) that were reproduced on the original Marinoni-Voirin lithographic presses can be found at Jack Gallery on the corner of Royal and Dumaine.
David Harouni, whose gallery has been on Royal Street for twelve years, will be on site with his peculiar portraits he could only describe as “emotionless expressions.”
There is also the gallery of Blue Dog creator George Rodrigue, the Hemmerling Gallery of Southern Art, the Mask Gallery, and Le Jardin, which features Brandon Delles’ official 2011 Dirty Linen Night painting.
This is still only a glimpse into the myriad of Royal Street galleries and shops that await Dirty Linen Night attendees. There will certainly be no shortage of things to see as people amble down one of New Orleans most fascinating streets in the heart of the French Quarter, eyes wide to its unique allure.
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Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz
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