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Capital Ideas 

The inspiration of spring's beautiful weather and awakening flowers makes it a logical time to think of improvements to the home front, both inside and out. Roman Capital (116 City Park Ave., 486-8800) can help you set improvement plans in stone with fountains, urns, statuary and other decorative items.

Among the trends owner Linda Vitry sees are passions for fountains of all sizes, custom-carved statuary and a return to durable limestone.

"We have the cast marble that's made in Italy," she says. It holds up well under lots of weather conditions and gives off a subtle sparkle because of its composition. "We also have people in Italy who carve. All they do is custom work -- basically limestone, museum-quality bronze, they can do anything at all. People order these when they want something specific or something of higher quality."

Customers also are expressing an interest in limestone, which is strong and mixes well with a lot of the buildings in the city that are constructed of that material. Yards and pool areas are receiving more attention in general, with plans for new homes increasingly addressing complete landscaping as part of the initial design.

"It seems that people are tending to do their yard, pool, garden area in the construction process more than they used to," Vitry says. "They used to build a house and not have any landscaping until later. There's more of a tendency now to do it as part of the construction. Instead of having to go in later and break up concrete to run irrigation or lighting, you can do it up front in the construction."

Fountains are particularly hot, she says, as they give yards and entryways a focal point and bring the serenity of running water to areas where people want to feel relaxed. Benches, chairs and tables for the outdoors also are in demand as are cast bases on which people place glass tops for tables. "It makes for a very pretty dining table," Vitry says. "Visually, it's less consuming than using a big piece of wood" for the base and top.

There also are more customers who buy life-size statuary and smaller statues on pedestals to go inside their homes as artwork. "It offers a different texture -- the stone versus the softer textures that are in the room," she says.

Urns also are used inside and out, especially twin urns placed in entryways or to flank doorways. In addition, Vitry says she has noted an increased number of balustrades being sold to add "a grandiose look" to a space or provide patios with a feeling of being partially enclosed. Other favored items this season are statues that spew water and can be placed around swimming pools or used as a centerpiece of a fountain with a pond at the base.

Fashion History

Take a fashionable walk back in time -- before computers were the main tools of artists in print media -- and view the hand-rendered visions of haute couture by fashion illustrator Bunny Scherzer.

A display of her advertising illustrations will be on view in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center (5342 St. Charles Ave.) April 18 through May 7, with a reception with the artist scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. opening day. Visitors can walk though the exhibit from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Scherzer moved from New York to New Orleans in 1955 to create a fashion image for D.H. Holmes, and opened her own studio 10 years later. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Town and Country, Women's Wear Daily, Southern Accents, Veranda and Holiday as well as two books published by Prentice Hall Inc.

Let 'Em Slide

Oyster lovers or people who just like to watch someone with a hearty appetite eat will want to stop by the Acme Oyster House Stage beside the Aquarium of the Americas (1 Canal St.) from 2 pm. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 17, for the Acme Oyster House 2004 World Oyster Eating Championship.

The event, sponsored by Tabasco, Land Rover and Barq's Root Beer, is sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE) and is a major stop on its professional eating circuit. There are several categories of competition at the event. For additional information, visit www.ifoce.com or any Acme Oyster House location.

Red Hot Fashion Mild Red (701 Dante St., Suite C, 866-8242), that purveyor of affordable hip, contemporary fashions has moved from Magazine Street to a new store in the Riverbend.

"It's a whole different ballgame over here," says owner Millie Corrigan. "It's a lot more college students; it's right next to Planet Beach. I love it over here." The store sells brands such as Ocean Drive, Poof and Buffalo Jeans at very affordable prices and in sizes that range from juniors to women's. "My jeans are the only things that aren't ... between $20 and $30; they cost a little more," she says. "But everything is very inexpensive."

click to enlarge Fontana Linda, named for Roman Capital owner Linda Vitry, who consigned its creation, has become a popular item at her business and others across the country.
  • Fontana Linda, named for Roman Capital owner Linda Vitry, who consigned its creation, has become a popular item at her business and others across the country.
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