When I was a kid in Memphis there was a puppet show in the big display window of Lowenstein’s Department Store on Main Street at Christmas time featuring the antics of Santa’s snowman helper Mr. Bingle. I found out when I moved to New Orleans that he was created here and was still a star at the Maison Blanche Department Store on Canal Street. Maison Blanche no longer exists but Mr. Bingle lives on as a Mardi Gras float, a Christmas feature of City Park, and a living memory in all of us lucky enough to have seen him. This painting is the fourth in my series of New Orleans myths and legends— “Mr. Bingle—A Miracle on Canal Street”.
My adventure in art began on Jackson Square. The French Quarter in 1970 was a world of its own, and I wanted to be a part of it. A recent college graduate with a major in Zoology, a minor in English Literature, and no real interest in pursuing either, I had wandered to New Orleans and discovered that people were selling artwork around the fence in front of St. Louis Cathedral. I had always liked to draw and paint, so I purchased a permit, copied some postcards with pen and ink, and headed to the square. My life was changed!
Fifteen years passed. I made many life-long friends, had great teachers, and learned and lived and shared an invaluable experience with this unique culture. I returned to school at the University of Memphis, this time in an area more fitting to my natural inclination, and earned an MFA in Studio Art. I attained a professorship at the University of North Alabama, taught 27 years, retired, and returned to New Orleans in 2017 with my wife and two Pug dogs.
My concept of Art is the same now as it was in those early days in the French Quarter. It is all about living. I told my students that they were the works of Art. Listen, study, learn to see. Refine your artwork each day that you are blessed with life. My work is a history of every moment that I have lived until the point that I created it. Each piece, whether a city scene, a figurative work, or my take on life, brings with it all that I have learned of design, composition, content, and observing and interacting with the world around me.
I am a New Orleans artist and live and work in the East Carrollton neighborhood.SOUTH CARROLLTON
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