Monday, May 6, 2013

Spring for Art and Musical Masterpieces: Covington, LA

After touring the museum in Abita Springs, we had about an hour to kill before presenting ourselves at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in New Orleans for Million Dollar Quartet.  We end up going to nearby Covington and browsing a couple of shops.  While there I grab a flyer for Spring for Art, a street festival happening later that night in downtown Covington.  I am not sure why I picked it up as Dawn and I have plans to go to the French Quarter later to hopefully do a ghost or cemetery tour.

This is Dawn's first Broadway play.  I have seen the show before but was looking forward to seeing it again, this time with Dawn.  Since she hasn't done this before, I am a little concerned that she won't enjoy it as much as I do.

Before the play.  Will those smiles be intact later?

The theater is in Jackson Square which is a very nice park and a great place to be before the show on a beautiful day.

We have really good seats, close to the stage and the only thing I can say I didn't like this time around was the bathrooms.  This theater has a terrible shortage of women's room stalls.  There were only 4 stalls in the one we found and probably 30 women in line.

Fortunately, Dawn enjoyed the play.  We both came out with smiles on our faces and even the unpleasant call from a family member couldn't put a damper on our afternoon.  Back at the hotel, we thought we would ride the trolley, which picks up right outside of our hotel, over to the French Quarter.  As we are waiting on the valet (our hotel had no self-parking option) the trolley comes and it is packed tight.  The next one that comes is the same way.  Neither of us are looking forward to cramming ourselves on one of those trolleys.  

I also want to say right now, before I write any other words or posts about New Orleans that I have never liked New Orleans.  One of the problems I have is the one that happens while we stand with the valet.  He asks when we will be returning and he tells us he wouldn't advise us coming back after dark.  Any city where I can't be out and about without being repeatedly told (which we were) I should be concerned about my personal safety isn't somewhere I want to be.

Up in the room, we try to decide what to do.  Clearing some stuff from by bag, I mention the art festival that I picked up the brochure for and we quickly head back to the valet stand.  The drive out to Covington takes us across the world's longest bridge for the second time today.  I really wanted to get there in time for an event listed in the brochure as Musical Masterpieces sponsored by Corks n' Canvas.  

Dawn isn't excited about making a painting, even if it is free.  I am trying to convince her to try it and not to worry so much about how it will come out.  I have done an event at a store in Montgomery, AL before and I  know they walk you through the whole process.

In the end, I convinced her.  Dawn is a happy, easy-going person so it wasn't all that hard.

This is a little different than what I have done before.  This time, there are about a dozen easels set up in a circle, all with a canvas and a table with brushes, water and paint.  We are the first two people to commit and we started late while they tried to round up enough people to start.  The idea for this event is that you stand in front of a canvas, a song plays and when it is over, you rotate one canvas to the right.  Because Dawn is to my left, she will always inherit what I worked on last.

Everyone started with a canvas with the same pre-drawn symbol.  The instructions for the first song are to start painting the background.  Any color you want from your palette.

When the song was over, this is how I left things for Dawn.  A crowd is starting to form around us and a news crew is shooting footage.

This is what I inherit when we rotate.  We keep painting the outside and then work next on the inside.  The instructor gives information on how to do borders and we continue to work a little, rotate, work a little and rotate.  The plan is that you get to keep the one you end up at.  I think we rotated between 6-8 times.

This is what I ended up with.  I added the white and after this photo, covered the little squiggles in the corners with a solid black arch.  For a painting that was worked on by half a dozen random people, it wasn't too bad.  She gave us 3 songs on the last rotate to work on finishing or changing the one we have.

This is how the one I started ended up looking.

We had fun doing this (especially for a free event) and they didn't have any trouble filling all of the spots really quickly for round two.  Dawn and I took our paintings to the car and then came back for a really good dinner on the patio of a local restaurant and about an hour left to browse the galleries and shops.  I was very happy we ended up here instead of crammed in trolley.

And, because I had fun with this and now knew that Corks n' Canvas had local shops, I went with 3 of my customers to a shop in Metarie on Thursday to paint again.  Thursday is our only night to be "on your own" and I had seen enough of Bourbon Street by then and was happy to talk these ladies into joining me for something away from the Quarter.  The painting listed was "Funky Chandelier".

Our host was Noemi and she was bubbly and adorable.  There were supposed to be 2 others in the class but they never showed so our little group of 4 were it.  Noemi did a good job of breaking down the drawing which is the part I have the hardest time with.

This time, we start with a blank canvas and paint it solid black to start.

We start drawing using chalk - something I will do again in the future it was such a great idea.  She had us draw the middle oval and then she had us draw small hash marks using instructions like, "go down two finger widths and make a mark".  Once we had all of the marks, we simply connected the dots.

Next we painted over the chalk with white.

Added details.

Added color (of our choosing).  This is my complete painting.

Linda's finished painting.

Sheila's painting

Lori's painting

Just like the time I did this in Alabama, I find it interesting how very different the paintings look even though we were given the same instruction.  I had fun doing the chandelier but may eventually reuse that canvas for something else.  I will keep the Fleur de Lis because it was the one Dawn and I did together.

We don't have anything like Corks n' Canvas where I live in Western Montana so I will have to do this again when I go to bigger cities.  A colleague of mine in Dallas mentioned the day we went to Metarie that she might be interested so when I go to the office in June, I may be adding to my collection.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Abita Mystery House: Abita Springs, LA

My company conference always brings a little dread with it.  It is a long week of training and speakers and events where I am required to be present and "on" all day and most evenings.  This year, I left earlier than usual due to the venue.  Our event is in New Orleans this year and my cousin Dawn lives a short 3 hour drive away in Pensacola.  Last year when we were together in Florida, we decided that we needed to do a better job of seeing each other and this is our first attempt to make good on that promise.

I arrived at our hotel in the Garden District of New Orleans a couple of hours before Dawn.  This turned out to be a good thing as she got lost and I was able to direct her via a map on my iPad.  By the time she arrived it was getting near supper time so we walked to a nearby restaurant and called it a night.  The next morning, we made the drive across Lake Pontchartrain to Abita Springs and the Abita Mystery House.

This is not remotely similar to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA.  This is more of an eclectic collection of items loosely organized to be a sort of strange and at time, macabre museum.  You can see anything and everything here.  There is one large building that contains most of the collection and then a few smaller buildings.  Even the buildings themselves are covered on the outside with signs, paint can lids, old curling irons...whatever was handy when that part was being done I suspect.

I think I will let the pictures (which are allowed) do the talking:

I need this sign.  I may have to make a copy.  Or crop this photo and frame it.

There were a huge number of these paint-by-number paintings everywhere, on the walls, ceilings...everywhere.

The sign above this diorama reads:  God bless our forefathers who fought in the Civil War so we could play Goofy Golf in peace.

This was one of our favorite dioramas.  I like the miniature Madonna in front of the trailer, Dawn likes the dead armadillo by the front of the truck.  This probably says a lot about our personalities.

The misnamed Macaroni Marble Machine.  It is made from wooden sticks, not macaroni.  Several of these had a button that activated the display.

Dawn and I took turns playing and cranking the two person organ.

The Shard House

Darrel the Dogigator

The 32 ft Alligator

This building was completely filled with various hot sauce bottles.

The Amazing Bassigator.  Half Bass (fish) half Gator.  All freaky.

You enter and exit the building through the gift shop.  Even in here there are a lot of unusual things to see.

Almost the entire ceiling is covered in computer components.

This should have been my first clue there would be even more strange creatures outside.  She wasn't for sale.  I checked.

This was really tempting.  I could have worn one each day of our conference.

I am really not sure why I didn't already own this and I know it will be one of those things I will be sorry I didn't buy.  Anyone looking for Christmas/Birthday ideas for me...take note.

Another contender.  I really should have bought this for my niece Ashley.  We had a whole thing with Chicken gifts going for a while.  I did find one thing I couldn't pass up on:

I initially bought this to send to my son.  However, the more I look at it, the more I think I might have to keep it and offer some to the person next to me at the airport.

I also had my fortune told.  This would be the first of three fortune telling events of the week. 

I wonder if the bike it is referring to is the one with the alligator seat.  I might be inclined to ride that one if I owned it but currently, I don't have a bike so this fortune is already sketchy.  I do like the idea about the crayons.  If I actually knew 64 people, I would be really tempted to do it.  Maybe I can scale it back to the box of 8 or 16.

This is quite likely the strangest "museum" I have been to thus far.  I did enjoy this place and at $3 the price was totally fair for the experience.  It was also nice that we were the only 2 people in the museum though there was a woman who tried to run me over with her car when we arrived.  She was in a big hurry and not happy that this place didn't open promptly at 10 am.  

I am fascinated by these kinds of places and how they get started.  Later, when Dawn and I were at a little antique store, I told her that going to places like the Mystery House makes me want to start something like that. I kept seeing things that could be the first item in my collection - like a creepy doll or a strange painting.  It could happen.  I just haven't found the exact right thing to start with yet.  I will definitely keep looking.

I was absolutely one of the changed.