Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"If I was gittin' up at 6am to shoot, I'd be fixin' to bring back meat..."

It's what a fellow hotel guest just said to me. He has his preferred targets, we have ours. We started Monday on Tennessee Street in the Lower 9th Ward. This street has seen enormous transformation in the last nine months. A gestation that has included a sea of pink tents, launching the Make It Right Foundation's efforts to make sure the owner residents of the neighborhood could have a reasonable way to return; then came another quiet time that resembled the time before the pink tents--I wondered then if there would be houses; and now, suddenly these great spaceship looking Dwell-Magazine-attention-seeking, stilted, ready-to-float, "green" homes have emerged on Tennessee Street.

"Brad Pitt is a Modernist." is what I heard out of the mouth of a young architect being bombarded by questions by a couple of students as I approached. I can only ponder what the question was...why don't these look anything like traditional New Orleans homes? They really didn't grow on me until our little group trickled onto the front walk of Gertrude LeBlanc's new home. I first met Gertrude in December the morning I was thwarted from making my Tennessee Street tree picture by the pink cast on everything in the neighborhood of the MIR Foundation's project to launch, fund raise, and bring awareness to the plan to build affordable housing for the original homeowner/residents of the Lower 9th Ward. I asked her that morning if all the noise woke her up. She told me no, emphatically. She was thrilled that there was life again in her neighborhood. And these are the good spirits we found her in Monday. She had a little dog that she had to periodically stop her story telling to tell to stop barking, as she rocked in her rocker. She is really excited to have her neighbors back--in the next week or so, they will move in. MIR stipulates that the homes be built only for resident/homeowners who own the land on which their former houses stood.

After this, we departed for Lake Ponchartrain to hang out with some fishermen and photograph, before returning to the hotel for a quick lunch at Mother's, and the short walk to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There we previewed a few of the pictures about to be hung for this Saturday's opening of the Sally Mann exhibition (which we will attend), as well some Lisa Silvestri work, and a number of gems from the permanent collection. Perhaps the best treat was seeing a fairly rare early-eighties portfolio of thirty images by William Eggleston. Here are the students being shown this magnificent work:

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