My 6th trip to New Orleans is like my bungee cord, a winter trip that I look forward to with great anticipation. Even though, and this can't be denied, the French Quarter of New Orleans can be despicable. It's humanity at its lowest form, except for the food, music and the chance to meet people from anywhere and everywhere. So I continue to present it through my eyes, returning to the same places (well not always the same places), but with different players (well not always different, many of them are returning artists). This year the attendees for the Michael DeMeng workshop were many, a large group that took some organizational skills to manage. I like to think that everyone had a blast, it was certainly exceptional for me.
High on my list of what needed to happen was meeting a dog named Sugar. She was found on a highway in Mississippi, trying to cross and was almost hit by a truck. Linda Berman, a well known New Orleans artist, came to her rescue. Turns out she was a Bordeaux mastiff, weighing only 42 lbs., this breed should weigh at least 100 lbs. It's the same breed from the movie "Turner and Hooch", the big, slobbery dog. X-rays also revealed that she had 6, low caliper bullets lodged in her and a crushed front knee. This was poor Sugar right after she was rescued.
A "Go Fund Me" account was set up and it was remarkable how much money was showered down for the "Sugar Cause". She has since put on the weight she needed, been treated for heart-worm and is waiting to have the bad leg amputated. Can you imagine the stories this poor girl could tell? And I was delighted to finally meet her.
I'm not going to say that everything was anti-climatic after that, there was a lot this trip had in store for me, but meeting Sugar, well - it's hard not to love this adorable girl.
Katherine Engen is the dedicated organizer for the week long event and everyday, and some nights, were planned in advance. Time for artwork happened each day and we were allowed to access the art room on our own, some staying there till the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis.
My piece of art would reflect the theme, this year it was "Beautiful Beasts". I decided to work on a seahorse, this is the original piece, where I began.
Since this is assemblage art, you need a lot of stuff, stuff that will be adapted, or added, layered and painted. Tools are good too, especially a Dremel. I flew this year, I like to drive, but it made more sense to fly. So a very large box was shipped in advance and waited for me at the hotel to begin the assemblage and "ArtVenture", as it's called.
As extracurricular activities, I bought "hot shot" seats at Preservation Hall, the tiny room with the best jazz in the heart of the French Quarter. One night featured the "Preservation Hall Brass Band", and you must go to the link to understand how wonderful that is. Maybe the best, best thing that New Orleans has to offer.