The last time I was in New Orleans was in 1978 right after Dorian and I bought our first car. We received two free nights as a promotion. So when my friend Bill Yates told me that PhotoNOLAwas happening over the weekend, my first reaction was, "let's go!" A quick 8.5 hour drive down I-10 brought us to this lovely city. We were met by Bill's friend John Burns, a local who spent some time in Palatka, and is now establishing an organic food market. My first objective was to catch the keynote presentation by Michael Kenna, and then to check out some galleries and do some street photography...and of course to EAT! And we managed to accomplish all of the above.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the food: red beans and rice, collards, more red beans and rice, beignets, and BBQ chicken (a la John Burns). John did a marvelous job directing us to the local spots, and we managed to see a fair amount of art, drove around much of the city, and even had a friendly chat with Exxon security as we were photographing near a refinery. The devastation by hurricane Katrina is still very evident in some parts of the city. We spent some time in the 9th Ward to see how an urban neighborhood literally got wiped from the face of the earth. New Orleans is a very dense city and it is hard to imagine how 20 ft of water would look like over many of the neighborhoods.
The best gallery for photography in New Orleans (probably the best in the Southeast) is A Gallery for Fine Photography at 241 Chartres Street.
On our way home we took the scenic Route 90 starting near Pass Christian (get off at the Mississippi Welcome Center on I-10), through Gulfport and on towards Pascagoula. There were still a few crews working the oil spill and some old dock pilings left over from Katrina. The beaches were pretty much deserted.
New Orleans is full of life and vitality and offers its own special kind of ambiance. This city is now on my list...I'll be back for sure.