There seems to have been an explosion of public art in New Orleans after Katrina, including one installation we find particularly interesting, but easy to overlook. From our neighborhood near the river all the way to Lake Pontchartrain, a series of poles have been installed in the median of Elysian Fields Boulevard. On each pole is a blue glass “bead” that is positioned to illustrate the water level during the flooding after the levees failed. The bead on the pole nearest us rests on the ground, because our neighborhood escaped the flooding. The one shown here is about halfway to the lake—this bead was about three feet above the ground. The bead on the pole a few blocks further was over six feet.
Archive for June, 2011
I’m working on a story for an upcoming edition of Country Roads Magazine (my day job) about the amazing place that’s opening up just across the street from us. Here’s an excerpt:
He’s head of a development company that specializes in reviving historic neighborhoods all across the U.S.
She’s a Vodou priestess with a temple in New Orleans’ bohemian Bywater neighborhood, who specializes in matters of the spirit.
They also happen to be a couple, and they’ve combined their disparate areas of expertise into a boundary-breaking effort to heal New Orleans.
“We were faced with sitting there crying about it,” recalls Sally Ann Glassman about those dark days after the levees failed on New Orleans, “or reaching into ourselves for an answer.”
For Glassman and her partner Press Kabacoff, that answer was to buy an old furniture store abandoned after Katrina, strip away the 1960s era façade to reveal its historic bones, and then adaptively reuse the 55,000 square feet inside to create The New Orleans Healing Center.
Just inside the front doors of the once abandoned building there is now an open airy space where individual local artists and collectives will showcase their work. Off to the right is Glassman’s vodou shop, Island of Salvation Botanica. To the rear of the building are a grocery coop and a performance space operated by a local poet. Upstairs are yoga and dance studios as well as spaces for practitioners of various healing arts, a women’s collective, and a room deliberately left sparely furnished where anyone can come for quiet time to renew their spirit.
An organic restaurant, herbal teahouse, coffee and juice bar will occupy the adjoining building.
And still there’s room left over in the cavernous building for a credit union, fitness center, business incubator, travel agency, bookstore, florist and street university offering classes in everything from “French Immersion” to “Investigating the Paranormal.”
Oh, and did I mention that on the roof is the “Earthlab”—billed as “both a permaculture garden and land-based laboratory exploring, experimenting, and testing technologies that support pollution remediation, soul, health, food systems, integrated water recourse management and ecosystem regeneration.”
Much more to come on this story, we’ll keep you updated.