Monday, July 28, 2014

City of the Dead

Our city is famous for above ground tombs. For those of you who are not impressed with our cemeteries yet, try to remember how cool Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were in 1969, and you know how cool those cemeteries are. Thank you very much.

For the French and the Canadians, city of the dead probably is not a big deal. (You should see some of the cemeteries in St. Martinville, La, or in other areas of the French Louisiana/Cajun land. They do make the tombs look like miniature houses.)

Even for me, a Japanese native, the above ground concept doesn't really sound that strange. The Japanese cremate the dead, put the ashes in an urn, and store it inside a little compartment either under a gigantic headstone or inside a small garden-shed like fancy structure. Since the 'underground' tombs are somewhat raised off the ground kind of like the tombs in New Orleans (if that makes any sense), it doesn't feel that the Japanese dead are really 'buried.'

To me the regular ordinary American cemeteries where the ground is flat and only the tombstones are sticking out, seem very odd, compared to the New Orleans style tombs. (do people not mind the fact that they are actually standing on top of their dead loved ones when they visit those flat American cemeteries?)

Anyway, one of my grandfathers' ashes is housed inside a small garden-shed-like structure on a hillside, where we simply unlock the front door and walk in, just like you're visiting someone in a 5x5 shed. There are shelves and drawers you can display and store pictures, candles, flowers, liquor bottles, small alter, etc., sort of like a mini-church, made just for you.

Here's a few paintings done at Lafayette Cemetery #1, a very popular tourist spot in Garden District.

Weeping Statue
14"x18"
Community Tomb for Volunteer Firemen
12"x16"
Above Ground Tombs
12"x16"

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Big Muddy in New Orleans

When the sky is this blue, the Big Muddy becomes the Big Blue. This web site seems to make the deep blue of the river look a bit muted, so please use your imagination... or come visit the location in person to see it for yourself.
Ultramarine Blue + Yellow Ochre = Mississippi River on a sunny day in late July.

Mississippi River, New Orleans
oil on canvas, 18"x24"

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Race Street, Lower Garden District

When we lived in the Lower Garden District, I either walked or biked up and down Race St. everyday. Here are a couple of views you would see on a sunny day, on the downtown side.

Race St. near Annunciation St. III, 2014
18"x18"

Race St. near Annunciation St. II, 2014
18"x18"

You can see there are mixture of different styles of houses from different eras... and below is a wider view of the same spot.

Race St. near Annunciation St. I, 2014
16"x22"

I wasn't planning to do 3 paintings in this one block when I started this first one, but over the period of about 5 months they just came out of the hole. And over the past 6 years or so I ended up producing about 24 paintings on Race St. between Annunciation St. and Coliseum St., which is only 3 blocks long.
Here's a bonus image of my old painting, from 2012.

Race St. at Annunciation St., looking towards downtown
16"x20"

Recognize the orange roofed house on the left? The two-story building with striped awning on the right used to have a huge bougainvillea in the front of the house, reaching up to the top of the second floor balcony. I wonder if they still have that, and have to cut it back to the ground every few years just to start a new cycle.