Artsy in New Orleans


We just got back from New Orleans, where the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association was holding its annual conference. While David attended his important philosophical sessions, I wandered around town, taking pictures. When David didn’t have any important philosophical sessions, he wandered with me. Our first time out, of course, we visited the French Quarter. The next day, we went to the Warehouse District—which local boosters now call the Arts District, and Forbes calls America’s tenth best hipster neighborhood. Because David and I might be too dorky to stay out past 10 pm to hear live music, but that doesn’t mean we’re not… Never mind.


Anyway, we liked the abandoned, century-old industrial buildings, some of them reclaimed as museums and galleries and groovy restaurants, and some still waiting in shabby-chic suspension. We stopped into three or four galleries, where we saw colorful balloons carved from wood, a wall covered with ceramic blossoms, acrylic close-ups of glistening oysters on the half shell, and detailed feathers rendered in silver on black, which were either gorgeous or tacky, but probably both.

More than once, we crossed paths with a pair of art handlers, wrapping paintings in quilts and loading them onto their truck. In one place, quilts were piled on the floor and paintings were leaning against the wall. In another, a woman in black was checking just-hung artworks with a digital level while a man and another woman, both of them also dressed in black, stood back assessing, fingertips to their chins.


The sign on the door of an auction house said the items inside would be available for public viewing at the end of the week. But the door was open, so in we went. Room after room was crammed with stunning antiques. We saw carved sideboards with inlaid wood, over-the-top mirrors,  paintings so huge they could only fit in mansions, and a collection of life-sized religious statuary. What we didn’t see were any actual people.

We kept expecting to encounter someone—around the next bend, in the next room, behind that 150-year-old armoire. I had my line ready. “Oh. I’m sorry. We didn’t realize. The door was open.”

But the only indication that we weren’t alone was the woman’s voice suddenly asking over an unseen p.a. system, “Could someone bring some shelves upstairs?”

We decided not to go upstairs.



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