City Park in the Dark

What is now the New Orleans City Park was, before colonization, home to the Chapitoulas and Houmas. They showed the colonists the land and the creek that ran through it, connecting Lake Ponchartain to the Mississippi River.

In the late 18th century, it became part of the Allard plantation and when the Allards defaulted on their loan, it was scooped up by the man who would leave it to the cities of New Orleans and Baltimore in 1845. New Orleans paid Baltimore off and New Orleans became the sole owner of the land, which it turned into a large, urban park in 1850.

As a city park, it became a dueling spot. The brother-in-law of the Louisiana governor, who was also his private secretary, was killed by one of the governor’s opponents. It’s now home to the New Orleans Art Museum, the New Orleans Botanical Garden, and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.

Monday was the opening night affair for the conference, at the New Orleans City Park. It started with drinks at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The museum was okay, though filled with modern art that isn’t my style.

Example: Trois Pattes by Keith Sonnier. “Deliberately disjointed” and made of bamboo, radio, loud speaker, electrical wire and aluminium, the label said that his pieces are “inspired by his extensive travels to India in the 1970s.” I will never understand modern art.

A piece that sort-of goes with the theme of this blog is called America 2013 by Will Ryman.

It’s a cabin covered in gold resin and made of wood, arrow heads, and shackles, representing the economies that built the US over the past 200 years.  The cabin represents the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln and the gold resin the California Gold Rush.

But I was really looking forward to the botanical garden, that housed the museum’s sculptures. We (Mr. History Tourist and I) have loved it since we discovered it on our way to the museum last year. Plus, the botanical garden was where the food was.

The party was in a new part of the sculpture garden, that opened earlier in May of this year.  I love this bear, (the sculpture is called Bear with Us by architect Frank Gehry) that looks like a piece of crumpled aluminium. The bridge in the background was made of glass, by Elyn Zimmerman.

Let me show you one more piece that captured everyone’s attention: called Mirror Labyrinth by Danish artist Jeppe Hein.

This was three museum workers with their arms (and a finger) in casts, showing how dangerous museum work can be.

And we got a sneak peak into the still-in-progress Louisiana Children’s Museum, which will open on August 31.

Our final stop was for dessert at the Pavillion of the Two Sisters…

…near a restored fountain with a 1995 statue called the Flute Player by Enrique Alférez (who died in 1999). He had done many of the beautiful statues in the original, older part of the gardens, for the Works Progress Administration in the 1920s.

The last time I was there, I had heard of plans to re-home all of the city’s confederate monuments to City Park. But if that was done, we didn’t see any of them.

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