Last Year’s Post Mardi Gras Blog… how times have changed!
It’s ridiculous how mesmerized I can get, just living regular life in New Orleans… I’m like a visual savant, easily hypnotized, and hard to awaken once I spot a complicated patch of brick. Or plaster. Or ironwork. Or shadows… anything, really, with a pattern that has marinated here for decades – even centuries.
So pretty much all day long, I go around in a daze, just trying to process the layers of visual crack that I stumble upon every time I walk outside.
I’m a real estate agent, a designer, and hostess to visitors from out of town; so there are endless opportunities for me to share that love with new people.
This is one of them.
I first conceived the idea of putting New Orleans onto fabric one day after Mardi Gras. I was taking my customary “day after the party” drive down St. Charles Avenue, then through the Irish Channel, just treating myself to the chaotic, gorgeous mess that is Ash Wednesday in the city.
Beads shine and sparkle from every tree along the way, streamers (actually toilet paper) in Mardi Gras colors from the Tucks parade sway across the alley of oaks, creating a tunnel of happy leftovers that make me laugh. Yes, we TP’d the trees. All of us, the whole city, throwing the rolls back and forth across the streets, up to the riders on the floats, then back across, until everything was covered in joy and neighborhood love for one another.
Romanticized? You bet. Come visit sometime and you’ll see. If you live here, you already know. That’s why I have to catch it all one last time before Lent moves on and the beads lose their sparkle over the long hot summer.
Then I got far enough down Tchoupitoulas to see where it all ended, turned a corner onto Nuns street. And BAM. Just like that I got hypnotized by what REALLY shines in New Orleans. I stopped the car, got out, and narrowly missed being road kill as I “zombie-walked” toward the most haunting wall.
An Irish Channel brick wall that wasn’t putting on a show at all. It just IS. It has been this way, getting more like this with every passing decade. A wall made of bricks. Someone covered it in white plaster at one time. Mildew took over, ivy grew… the plaster began to chip away, and the bricks revealed themselves again. Good, solid brick-in-limestone wall… peeling, painted windows above it it, ivy dead from the freeze, so only the vines prevailed. A frayed rope on the rusted door…
The colors! Here, in the dead of winter with all the greenery frozen last month – even so, the colors are alive. Faded brick that is still very much red. Dirty, aged plaster with that greenish patina that speaks of our tropical days in summer, the faded, cracking turquoise paint on the window, the pink stucco from another builder in another time – another layer, someone else’s story.
And I took photo after photo after photo, driven to capture every nuance of time expressed on that one, lonely wall.
It became the first in my 2018 Irish Channel collection of fabrics, because I wanted that image on my table at Easter. The pinks and blues, the soft greys and terra cottas, the mossy greens, the creamy whites and that rope – if it could translate into fabric – oh, the places that image could find to live!
So, now I feel I have grabbed an eyeful of history and promise, found quiet in the post-excitement of celebration, and found a way to bring this silence and peace into my home… in the most unique way.