NoLa Diary #2 – Julia Street Art Galleries, French Market Flea

Julia Street

Julia Street – Life is Art

If you are in the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue and heading toward the French Quarter, once you pass the highway overpass and go past the WWII memorial, you’ll come across a small side street: Julia Street, in the Central Business District.

If you like art galleries, you should make a right hand turn and walk towards the river. In the blocks between St. Charles and the river are about a dozen art galleries, some of which are extremely high end and very contemporary – easily on par with what you’d see in the Chelsea art gallery neighborhood of Manhattan. Other galleries have fantastic local art with a distinctly NoLa or Louisiana flare.

 

Life is Art banner - these are up all along Julia Street

 

One of the galleries I really liked was the LeMieux Gallery (332 Julia Street). This gallery mostly shows NoLa, Louisiana or “gulf coast state” artists. One artist whose work I particularly enjoyed was Shirley Rabe Masinter. The textures she achieves in her paintings of local New Orleans buildings are really incredible. Not surprisingly, Ms. Masinter is in her 70’s and has certainly achieved great mastery in her work.

Another gallery I fell in love with was the Soren Christensen (400 Julia Street). There I saw the sculptural figures of Evelyn Jordan. Works like “Inside the Box” blew me away. You can’t really see some of the details in the pictures posted by the gallery, but according to the gallery manager Jordan is “known” for the intense work she does on hands and especially feet, and it shows well in these remarkable pieces.

I would also like to extole the virtues of the Arthur Roger Gallery (434 Julia Street). This gallery has some of the most incredible space on Julia Street. They have a huge exhibition space dedicated to the glassworks of Dale Chihuly, and some of the pieces are large ceiling hung installations. The vibe of this gallery is very contemporary, and on par with what you’d see in NYC for sure. The staff I met there is knowledgeable and friendly (in other words, NOT like NYC in that aspect.)

And although I didn’t get a chance to make a right on Camp Street today, about a block off of Julia (on Camp) you can also find the Contemporary Art Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Since I had already spent several hours just perusing the galleries on Julia today, I’m saving the Contemporary Art Center and the Ogden for another day. A few people mentioned that Thursday evenings between 6-8pm are a good time to go to the “Ogden After Hours” where they apparently do live music events, or gallery talks or other events.

From a traveler’s eye view perspective, if you keep walking down Julia Street, you will reach the Riverwalk shops at the intersection of Julia with Canal Street. I went inside out of curiosity, and if you are into high kitch, lots of t-shirts, shot glass and plastic mardi gras stuff, you’ll be in heaven. For the rest of us, it’s worth avoiding altogether. (The ONE nice thing I can say about Riverwalk is you have an elevated view of the Mississippi River.)

French Market Streetcar

 

However, before you go up the escalator to get to Riverwalk, if you go towards the train tracks, you’ll see a streetcar stop marked #8 Julia. If you take the Canal Streetcar heading back to the French Quarter, and you get out at the last stop, you will be within a few 100 feet of the French Quarter Flea Market. The French Quarter Flea is basically tourist fare, but it’s a nice enough neighborhood to walk around and soak up the NoLa vibes.

French Quarter Flea Market

So that’s my take on Julia Street – one of the many, many artist havens in NoLa. I’ll post more of my observations here as my journey continues.

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2 Responses

  1. Well, it’s nice to know there is more than strip clubs. It has been many, many years since I saw New Orleans, but I remember it being jazz clubs, gift shops, restaurants, (regular) bars and antique shops. I wonder what the locals have to say about it? Thanks for the the travel blog – this is interesting to see how things are faring for the city since Katrina.

    • Thanks for your comment Wren. NoLa is definitely more than the sum of the blocks of Bourbon Street, I agree! I’m happy to say that I’m seeing even more art museums and galleries than I realized would be here much to my very pleasurable surprise.

      The locals do talk about “before and after Katrina” and it the aftermath of the storm is still here… or not here in the case of so many locals who fled New Orleans before/during/after the storm and were never able (or didn’t want to) return. This affects every neighborhood, property values in the city, and the feel the locals have for their home.

      I’ve only been here a few days now though, so after a few more weeks I hope to say I know a little something about that flavor of NoLa.

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