Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Artist Date in New Orleans

Julia Cameron (The Artists's Way) says we (creative people) need to schedule an "artist's date" once a week. That's when we take ourself out and do something creative... visit an art gallery, watch a sunset on water, or relax in a book store or coffee shop without a deadline. So Saturday, my fifth day in New Orleans, I went on an artist's date. First I went to Cafe Du Monde for beignets. okay kind of gluttonous rather than artsy, but, waiting in line I met Hack Bartholonew, playing his horn (with a friend on banjo )and singing his heart out for Jesus... they let me join them for one song, and of course I bought their CD to help them rebuild their church, destroyed by Katrina. And ate all three beignets that came with my cafe au lait. yum.

After three days of thunderstorms, the weather Saturday was beautiful, so more artists and musicians were out around Jackson Square, and I enjoyed watching them and snapped a few pictures. This little man was my favorite (right). And this guy played a pretty good horn (left). But then I found the tattoo artist. Well, they weren't real tattoos, but they last about a week. So I asked for a peacock, because they're one of my favorites... and here we are, in process... and the finished result, which looks so real, but is supposed to wear off in about a week. I had fun "surprising" my husband with it this afternoon... of course he's glad it isn't real!
My next stop was Faulkner House Books on Pirates Alley. (That's is, at right, and the historic marker, left.) William Faulkner actually lived here for about six months in 1925 while writing his first novel, Soldier Pay, and now it's a lovely book store with lots of first editions and signed books. The manager, Joanna, was delightful. I enjoyed meeting her and browsing for a while before purchasing several books, including:

Many Things Have Happened Since He Died and Break the Heart of Me, both by Elizabeth Dewberry Vaughn. These are novels, but according to Joanna (at Faulkner Books) they are very autobiographical, so they read more like memoirs. They just might be my "beach reads" for Gulf Shores this week!
Next I took the trolley to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, where I especially enjoyed the photography of Elliott Erwitt, and Roger Brown's "Southern Exposure" exhibit of "imagist" works, which are a blend of folk art, surrealism, comic strip, advertisements and flea market "finds." Walking down the street in frontof the museum I ran into this bride and her maids, in town for their bachelorette party.

At the end of the day, we planned a casual dinner at Jacques-Imo's, an eclectic uptown restaurant recommended by my "tattoo" artist. Located near Tulane, they're popular with the college crowd, and we didn't realize that Tulane's graduation was actually today. (the photo I posted of the grads earlier in the week were from Loyola, not Tulane). Anyway, I'd heard the food was good, and they even had a pickup truck out front with their "VIP" table for two inside! This lucky couple, from London and Boston, got to eat in the truck. While we were waiting for our name to be called, we saw some familiar faces going into the restaurant...

the Klimkowsky family (from Memphis and St. John Church)! Dalia had graduated from Tulane (both undergrad and grad school on the same day!) and the family was there to celerate. They had a reservation for 5, and were able to make room for 2 more, so we joined them for a wonderful time and delicious food. Here's Dalia with her mother and younger brother, Myron. AND it was Dalia's 23rd birthday, so we got samples of creme brulee, cheesecake and bread pudding on the house. Older brother, Sergio, also graduated from Tulane a few years ago, and younger brother, Myron, is a junior at Vanderbilt. Alex and Ola are dear friends, and we were so blessed to be part of their family's special evening in New Orleans last night! One of the waiters recognized Dalia and congratulated her (right). And we all enjoyed this keyboard player (in another pickup truck) outside the restaurant after dinner. Talent seems to ooze through the cracks in the sidewalks.
Or maybe it's the "seasoning" of the city. As Roy Blount, Jr. says (in his essay, "An Epilogue: Spice of Life," in My New Orleans:
Everything in New Orleans, not just the food, is highly seasoned.... People in New Orleans are seasoned, as in spicy and as in veteran. Here is one definition of "season":
"To render competent through trial and experience."Not weather-beaten. That goes beyond seasoning. New Orleans has neve been beaten by weather yet.
I'm posting this early on Sunday morning, and we're leaving for the beach today, so I might not post again for a few days. I hope you've enjoyed my brief account of our wonderful time in New Orleans! The people have definitely made an impression on me, as has the city... I won't wait another 25 years to visit again!

1 comment:

M.O. Walsh said...

Hi Susan-

I hope all of your Yoknapatwapha friends are coming to Oxford for the conference again this year! I was wondering if you could post the announcement of it on your site to get the word out. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks so much! here it is:

Announcement of


Please join us in beautiful Oxford, Mississippi, the town that Faulkner made famous, for a 3 day creative writing workshop JUNE 6-8. Find out why so many great authors love this place!

This is the perfect chance for those (both beginning and advanced) to get away for a weekend and do nothing but think, breathe, eat, and sleep the craft of fiction and non-fiction writing.

The weekend will consist of DAILY WORKSHOPS to discuss your own work, as well as the work of other budding writers just like you. The weekend will also be filled with READINGS, CRAFT LECTURES, OPEN MICS, and delicious CATFISH! What more could you ask for? Oh yeah; you'll also have TIME TO WRITE! Our great faculty will provide not only advice and encouragement, but also plenty of writing exercises and ideas you can take home with you if you so choose.

So, who are the faculty for this year's workshop?

JERE HOAR, the best-selling author of The Hit, a novel, and of the New York Times notable short story collection Body Parts, will give a craft lecture and a reading. In his years as a professor of journalism, he has produced multiple Pulitzer Prize winning writers (along with his own lauded work), so you won't want to miss what he has to say!

SCOTT MORRIS, author of the critically acclaimed novels Waiting for April and The Total View of Taftly, will be your workshop leader. Scott has seen every side of the novel writing business and is known for his great ability to give highly insightful yet down to earth advice. He's done everything under the sun to keep writing; from picking grapes in Europe, to temping in an office, to getting a degree in philosophy. You won't be disappointed.

BETH ANN FENNELLY, a poet and non –fiction writer at the top of both genres, has just released her third collection of poetry, Unmentionables, to go along with her previous collections Open House, Tender Hooks, and her marvelous book of non-fiction Great With Child. She will give a craft lecture on non-fiction and anything else under the sun. We’re extremely lucky to have her!

M.O. "NEAL" WALSH, an up and coming fiction and screenwriter (and recent graduate of the MFA program at Ole Miss) will also be on hand to give a reading and craft lecture. His stories have recently appeared in great magazines like Oxford American, American Short Fiction, and EPOCH, as well prestigious anthologies like Best New American Voices. He'll be on hand to give advice not only on writing (or good places to eat in town), but also to give fresh perspectives on the pros and cons of pursuing degrees in the writing field.

REBECCA JERNIGAN, an internationally known story teller in the oral tradition, a "literary performance artist", will also give a show you won't want to miss. Trust us.

On top of this you'll tour ROWAN OAK, Faulkner's home. You'll browse the shelves of one of the last great independent bookstores, SQUARE BOOKS. You'll sip drinks on the balcony of THE CITY GROCERY where litarary stars like Larry Brown, Barry Hannah, Ace Adkins, and Tom Franklin have all hung many a hat. And, you'll be treated to a fried catfish dinner at the famous TAYLOR GROCERY, the subject of many glowing Southern Living reviews.

So, what are you waiting on? Please visit for all the details on price, accommodations and transportation. Don't forget, Oxford is only an hour from Memphis Int'l Airport.

Please contact Barbara Thompson at Ole Miss Outreach if you have any questions. or 662-915-5811.

Hope to see you there!

Barbara H. Thompson
Senior Project Administrator
Office of Professional Development & Non-Credit Education
P.O. Box 879
University, MS 38677
Phone: 662-915-5811 (direct line) 662-915-7283 (central line)

Fax: 662-915-5138