A sudden cold snap in New Orleans means that people hunker down, bundle up, and moan and complain about temperatures that may dip into the low 30’s. It doesn’t take many winters hiding in the Gulf South for a northern-born transplant’s blood to thin out and for the body to revolt and deliver a severe case of chronic bronchitis. Our shotgun houses are built to cool, and are still uninsulated in many cases, with kitchen thermometer temps dipping down to less than five degrees above outdoor temperatures. Floorboard cracks reveal the breeze from underneath the house, a blessing most of the year, challenging to electric heaters during the eight or so weeks of “true winter”. This year it’s come early and I wasn’t ready.
I was unable to cover the events of the past two weeks, many connected to Prospect 3 or the New Orleans Fringe Festival. I downed multiple cups of tea with lemons, had a neighbor go to Walgreen’s (which is only four blocks away) to get me more Nyquil, and called in a favor with a friend in possession of a MD to write me a prescription for antibiotics. I slept 14, 16, 13 hours each day while missing work and many many social and cultural events that took place.
My partner, Rotten Milk, has attended half a dozen shows, a play, a gong orchestra, a secondline parade, a DJ party, and more connected to the cultural events happening around town. I slept through some amazing stuff from the sounds of it. Now, as many artists and curators are aware, Miami’s Art Basel is right around the corner. Prospect 3 (P3) was originally designed to dovetail with Art Basel and draw artists and more importantly, collectors to New Orleans ahead of the big show in Miami. Art Basel is right up there with the “great” art fairs of all time, so attracting these key collectors was meant to boost the Post-K cultural economy and bring art tourism to the city. Now that we’re in our third (if you don’t count P2 1/2) biennial, and it has arguably not manifested the hordes of collectors from New York, LA or Berlin.
Ahead of the Art Basel fair several groups of performance artists, installation artists, videographers, and others are making New Orleans a stop on their journey to South Florida, and we get to reap the benefits. In the next week I’ll be hosting a theater troupe from Puerto Rico who is traveling inside a large whale, painters from LA, art handlers from Chicago, and musicians on tour from the east coast on their way to Miami. None of this is unusual, since moving here from Chicago, allegedly far far away from the art meccas of the coasts, the art world keeps showing up on our doorstep. Increasing rents and gluts of hopeful BFA graduates each year make it hard to stand out in the more bustling art markets. New Orleans, for better or worse, is attracting these folks from every corner. I actually feel more in touch with the “art world” here then I ever did in Chicago.
I huddled in my studio all week making some new paintings for a show sometime in the future. I kept thinking about the things I was missing out on since doing more than sitting at my desk or sleeping left me exhausted and hacking. Looking towards next week’s Thanksgiving festivities centered around my neighborhood and the races at the Fairgrounds, I am comforted in knowing that the party never really stops here. We’re in the midst of the holiday season, and after the rest of the country puts away their decorations and bunkers down for the remnants of winter to pass, we’re just gearing up for Carnival. I can hear St. Augustine’s band practicing each afternoon, and there’s only eighty-six days until Mardi Gras.