Working in the service industry (a euphemism for bartender), my oldest daughter always has some of the most interesting friends that I have ever met. They are amazing young people from all walks of life that happen to have met up in the same place at the same time and struck up friendships that went beyond last call.
A couple of weeks ago, she was telling me about her friend, Mike, who is a local artist. This piqued my interest, since I am a HUGE fan of not only shopping locally, but supporting local artists as well. The most unique art in my home has come from right here in the New Orleans area and those few pieces mean more to me than all of the rest put together. There is a heart and soul to our local artists and their work that surpasses the average. They travel off the beaten path, flout the conventions and defy expectations. They celebrate the uniqueness not just of our city and region, but of themselves as well.
Anyway, back to Mike... My daughter explained to me that she wanted to purchase one of his works for me as a Christmas gift, but could not afford it. No mother wants her kids to spend their hard earned money on her anyway, so I brushed it off, telling her how much I appreciated her thinking of me when she saw it and even remembering how much I like stuff like that. So, imagine my surprise when she showed up on Christmas Eve, with a small, freshly painted NoLA Rising piece for my collection!
Here is what makes the story so quintessentially New Orleans... She received a phone call last week from her friend, artist Michael Dingler, telling her to stop by his house the next day. He instructed her to check under his front steps for a gift. When she questioned him, he told her it was "something for your Momma". I had NEVER met Mike....but he knew that his friend's momma was interested in what he does, and went out of his way to make sure that I had a present from my daughter that reflected that.
This is a young man that is trying to raise awareness for the arts in our city, encouraging the public display of art and attempting to start a non-profit organization to supply art to families that have rebuilt their homes post Katrina. He wants to provide original artwork to the new home owners in the Musician's Village and to the eventual owners of homes being built as part of Brad Pitt's project, Make It Right.
When some naysayer wants to know why we stay, why we choose to rebuild our city, why we won't abandon hundreds of years of history, I only have to look at one small piece of art...
...and I know why.
p.s. I was able to meet Mike personally this past week, and he attended our Carnival Ball last night. What a charming, articulate, passionate person...a wonderful representative of all that is right with the world. Please visit his blog or his website, and take advantage of the opportunity to own your own unique piece of NoLA Rising.
Thanks again, Mike! All the best,
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