Everybody knows about this city’s pioneering role in the history of American music and food, but what about photography? Blank looks are a common response to that question, yet not only was the South’s first photo studio located here, it belonged to Jules Lion, who studied under Louis Daguerre before he became America’s first black photographer. Likewise, longtime French Quarter fixture Clarence John Laughlin was America’s first surrealist photographer, and the New Orleans Museum of Art’s (NOMA) extensive photography collection, now numbering 10,000 works, also was ahead of its time. For that we can thank former NOMA director John Bullard, who made it a personal priority shortly after assuming his post some four decades ago — when few museums considered photography an art. This show features 130 significant works from the collection by many leading names in the field.
Featured images range from British photographic pioneer William Fox Talbot’s evocative 1843 view of a Paris street scene to Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1982 French Quarter staircase composition. Minimal to an almost abstract extent, this was a departure from the influence of his New Orleans mentor, George Dureau, whose empathetically edgy oeuvre was a major influence on Mapplethorpe’s early work. Photography connoisseurs will find much to like in the form of lesser known works by big name photographers inlcuding Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Lee Friedlander, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Hans Bellmer interspersed with iconic images by photo art stars like Lewis Hine, Robert Frank and Diane Arbus, among others. There also are outstanding examples of work by underappreciated female photographers such as Ilse Bing and Hannah Hoch. Local classics include the legendary bordello photographer E.J. Bellocq’s Storyville Fireplace Mantel (pictured), Arnold Genthe’s ultra-impressionist French Quarter scenes and Robert Frank’s classic 1955 shot of zombie-like Canal Street pedestrians. But Laughlin’s A Mangled Staircase illustrates how old architecture and surrealism blend seamlessly into New Orleans’ unique cultural gumbo, while revealing why Laughlin himself was the godfather of the new generation of local surrealist photographers.
Through Jan. 19
Photography at NOMA: Selections from the Permanent Collection
New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, (504) 658-4100
In fall 2013, historian John Barry lost his seat on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) board, a victory for Gov. Bobby Jindal, and a setback for coastal restoration and flood protection for south Louisiana. But as Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos noted, it set him free to speak his mind.
It's probably not the first platform many would have guessed, but Barry was named 2014 king of Krewe Du Vieux. Barry will lead the krewe on its procession through Faubourg Marigny and the French Quarter Feb. 15. Artist Dawn DeDeaux was named royal consort.
Barry is the author of the best-selling Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Greatest Plague in History.
Barry was vice-chairman of SFLPA-E, which in July filed suit against oil companies seeking compensation for the oil and gas industry damages to coastal wetlands. Barry's summary of the suit and the politics surrounding his removal from the board are here.
Krewe du Vieux typically choses satirical themes, and past royalty have included Dr. John, Women With a Vision Director Deon Haywood, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation (and past Contemporary Arts Center) Director Don Marshall, R&B legends Ernie K-Doe, Frankie Ford and Irma Thomas, former Times-Picayune cartoonist Walt Handelsman, writer and bon vivant Andre Codrescu and others.
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New Year's resolutions can be pretty nebulous. How much weight, exactly, are you aiming to lose? How many mixed drinks are you willing to forgo? (And do Sazeracs count? Is that technically a mixed drink, or just a tradition/way of life?) But learning a new language challenges your brain, connects you with other cultures, introduces you to new people and is a pretty cool party trick to pull out among the monolingual. Here are seven places to learn a new tongue, some free, others pricey, all social:
For more advanced Spanish speakers, the New Orleans Spanish Language Meetup hosts events to practice the language. You just have to join Meetup and sign up on the group's page. There are also Meetups for French and Arabic.
Both the Alliance Francaise and L'Union Francaise host language schools for New Orleanians looking to delve into the tongue that haunts many a city street name. These are both pretty expensive, but they're intensive classes. The Alliance Francaise also hosts events and movie screenings, so if you want to immerse yourself in French for free without homework, those are some other options.
Classes at the NOLA Chinese Language School start Feb. 1 and are open to all levels of Chinese speaker. The American Italian Cultural Center also offers classes for the semester, and may teach you to say more than "pizza" and "spaghetti" in la lingua bella.
If you know of more language opportunities, particularly ones on the cheap, post 'em below.
Though it got off to a slow start, 2013 turned out to be a banner year for film, even more consistent and varied in its artistic successes than 2012. The formerly sharp divisions between the worlds of Hollywood and American independent film continued to blur, benefiting filmmakers and audiences alike. Last year, the major studios seemed newly eager to hire visionary, often up-and-coming filmmakers to tackle big-budget movies. This year it was well-established directors borrowing style and techniques from their younger, hipper counterparts, perhaps in an effort to hold onto their jobs. Advances in digital-camera technology helped veteran filmmakers find the courage to embrace spontaneity, using minimal lighting and three-dimensional sets to create looser and less formulaic movies.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP...
Live Oak Cafe (8140 Oak St.) opens Saturday, Jan. 4, in a renovated space that less than a month ago was Oak Street Cafe. That breakfast and lunch restaurant closed Dec. 13, and partners and cooking team Helena Hjort, Clare Leavy and Bryan Harrison began revamping the interior and reworking the menu.
The new restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will have table service and a menu of classic breakfast fare and comfort food. The focus is on making everything on the menu from scratch, including sausage, and procuring all-natural produce and antibiotic- and hormone-free meats from local sources.
The cafe also will be environmentally responsible, partnering with Hollygrove Market & Farm for composting, recycling cooking oil from its kitchen and placing a recycling bin outside for the public to use. The team isn’t trying to revolutionize Oak Street, however.
“We want to keep with the history of the neighborhood, be a part of that and build on it,” says Leavy, a native of Chicago who has worked at Oak Street Cafe on and off for several years. She also has cooked at Carmo, Pizza Delicious and Vizard’s. Hjort is from Sweden and Harrison is a New Orleans native.
“We’re all from different places,” Leavy says of her partners. “We’ll take classic cooking that feels like home to us and meld it together for the best taste. We want [customers] to learn to trust us, so that they know whatever is on the menu, it will be good.”
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