February 24, 2009

The Big Easy.

Today the traditional "Mardi Gras", or Fat Tuesday, is held in New Orleans. This must be the best and worst time in the year to visit the city.
I have been in New Orleans twice while I lived in the US in the 90's, although these visits were in the summer and not in February. Both times I had an incredible stay. New Orleans, together with Las Vegas, are my two favorite American cities. The two couldn't be more different from each other and I guess therein lies the allure, as I like them for different reasons.
While Las Vegas is a place like no other, a fantasy playground, where anything can happen (and to me a very American city), New Orleans always struck me as exotic yet so very European in some ways. The French influences are very apparent, particularly in the architecture.

When I visited The Big Easy the second time in 1996, I did something I never did before or since. I willingly posed for a street portrait artist. She drew a large black and white portrait using charcoal only. I like to believe the finished piece is a reflection of how the artist saw me, even though the likeness between me and the girl in the picture is pretty much non-existent. It took her 2 hours to finish the drawing and although I suffered greatly and had to endure stares and comments from all the onlookers, I am very happy I did this. This piece of genuine art is one of my precious possessions to this day, as it is a very unique souvenir.


A Woman Of No Importance said...

It is a wonderful portrait, Z - such a souvenir, and thank you for your account of New Orleans - I should be interested in hearing more of your memories of that city one day...

Diane said...

That's beautiful portrait! I have one, done when I was 18 for my dad's Father's Day present, but I wearing these awful big glasses, so it's very dated now (as am I ;).

I don't share your love of Las Vegas. Ick. I hate the idea that people would think of it as a very American city. I think it's an embarrassment in many ways... a display of excess and garishness and poor taste. But I know many people who certainly don't share my view and love it there.

Betsy Brock said...

I've been to New Orleans...very unique and different from the midwest where I live. The charcoal drawing is beautiful. Where you really blonde then?

Mahmud Yussop said...

The portrait is wonderfully executed. The painting exudes a transparency of an honest heart. Anyway, New Orleans reminds me of CCR's Proud Mary,especially in the song lyrics 'pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans'...which has been etched in my memory since late 60's when I first learnt to play their songs on the guitar.

Julie Hibbard said...

Were you blond? Wow...you are tremendously beautiful...the artist was indeed able to see through to your soul...even down in New Orleans.
Happy Fat Tuesday!

Lulda Casadaga said...

Perhaps the artist was channeling a New Orleans ghost thru you that day...:D I think the artist was trying to portray your innocense! ;)

Of course, being in NO you would probably lose your innocense quickly. I spent a long weekend back in the 80's on bourban st...what a fun, crazy, drunken time I had. And it wasn't even Madri Gras time.

I also visited Vegas and both places are unique...for beauty, craziness, history and excess...the only way to be American! LOL

Noelle Chantal said...

That's a lovely portrait of you Protege. The artist drew what she saw deep inside of you. Beautiful interpretation! You hair then looks nice. You look like a model Protege!

And I miss your blog too! :)

Hilary said...

Very cool to have a drawing done. Particularly when the model is such a beauty. :)

My neighbours/friends extol the virtues of NO all the time. They vacationed there a few years ago and went back to get married there the summer before last. Several of us were invited but few were able to join them. I'd love to see it one day though. It sounds like a great place.

Melanie Gillispie said...

Great portrait! I've never been to either New Orleans or Las Vegas. Happy Fat Tuesday!

Hazel Designs said...

That is a great portrait! You look like a southern heroine in a novel :)

I've only been to New Orleans once, and that was memorable - we were there for a long weekend and left the city literally the DAY before Katrina struck. I've been too chicken to go back ever since.

Donna said...

I think the artist did a beautiful portrait. What a lovely picture of you.


Zuzana said...

=Woman Of No Importance, thank you so much, the artist would have been glad.;) New Orleans is an incredible city, one of those that leaves you with everlasting impressions.;) Hope you will get a chance to visit it one day.;)

=Diane, thank you.;) I am sure that portrait you speak of is very special to you, even though it is old.
I know what you mean about Las Vegas, still, it is a city like no other.;)

=Betsy, glad you like NO too.;)) Yes, that was during my blond days in my late twenties. I have had any hair color you can imagine.;)

=Mahmud, the artist would have been so flattered to hear you say that.;) I did not know you played guitar as well, you never seize to surprise me.;))

=Julie, thank you so much for those kind words, although I fail to see the likeness in the picture. Yes,I used to be blond and called "California Girl" or "ABBA" when living in the states.;) Imagine that.;)

=Lulda, you summed it up so perfectly! That is exactly it, when it comes to the two cities.
In regards to my innocence, I so so hope you are right.;)
Thank you for this great comment.;))

=Sweet Noelle, your comments are always like a breath of fresh air! A compliment from a young and gorgeous girl always makes my day; thank you so much sweetie, you are the best.;))

=Hilary, I have had incredible stay in NO both times; it is honestly an unusual and unique place.
Ah and thank you for saying such nice things; unfortunately I have no idea who the girl in the picture is; she just looks nothing like me.;))

=Mel, if you ever get a chance, please visit both.;))

=Hazel, what an incredible experience to have been in NO just prior to the hurricane! I too once visited Florida and left about 3 days prior to hurricane Andrew struck.
And I love the description of what you see the girl in the portrait as! Wonderful, I might just write it down and save it to read for when I am really depressed.;))

=Donna, thank you so much, that means a lot coming from a talented artist as yourself. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I absolutely flipped when I saw your French Quarter drawing by artist Don Darkay (???) I have a drawing of his too that I absolutely love!!! It's entitled "Royal Street New Orleans" and it's dated 1976 (a year after I was born :) I can't even make out the spelling of his last name in my own print... It was an unbelievable find at a thrift store! Did you purchase yours when you were there!?

As for your portrait - it's AMAZING! I considered doing the same thing when I was there - as there are artist and musicians ALL OVER the place!! At least you got to listen to good music while you sat there for two hours!!! I wish I would have done what you did - I can imagine how much importance that picture holds in your heart...

Christine :) :)