In the years after Katrina I was able to finally make it to New Orleans for the first time. I stayed in the French Quarter and it was delightful and at the same time it felt so familiar. I realized the familiarity came from the architecture. You see, the French Quarter was originally French but after the great fires of 1788 (damaging 78% of the buildings) and 1794, as well as the hurricanes and storms of the 1800’s, damage was replaced by architecture with more of a Spanish influence.
My hometown of Cuernavaca in Mexico was first part of the Aztec empire but then it housed Hernan Cortes, Spanish conquistador, and Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico so the urban design and architecture is clearly a mix of Spanish and French influence. This influence is what I recognized while strolling down the streets of the French Quarter. I may not have been the first Mexican to notice the resemblance. Perhaps Benito Juarez, one of Mexico’s former presidents also saw the similarities while living in New Orleans.
During my visits I enjoyed walking down the cobblestone streets and sidewalks of St. Peter Street, Decatur, Royal Street, and into the store front shops built into the old homes. Homes with interior courtyards and many rooms. Balconies decorated with wrought iron works and blooming plants adding color to a colorful quarter of the city. What stories can be found waiting to be discovered!
The lush Jackson Square on the wide banks of the Mississippi River, frames the St. Louis Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the country. The triple steeple building is glazed by the sun’s warm tones reflecting light on its walls.
There is also the pirate lore that of Jean Lafitte left behind. One can almost hear the echos of footsteps and brawny laughter while walking down the cobblestones of Pirates Alley.
So inspired by the vibrancy of the historic square, I set out on several mornings, with easel and paint box in tow, to capture the quiet streets of the French Quarter. Propping my easel as close as I could to the buildings on Royal Street, between the palm reader, the antique shop, and the old heavy wooden gate that saw many carriages ride through it, I started to paint. The same for other soon to become familiar streets. Each one an opportunity to capture the colors of of the French Quarter. I enjoyed the still hours of the day with only a few passers-by on their way to work, by foot or by bike, showing vague signs of life in the still dormant village. And in the heat of the day, I would find a quiet bench in a shady courtyard to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of NOLA.
The French Quarter collection is also available in authorized reproductions of wall art, home decor, lifestyle pieces, phone cases and greeting cards. For information on the original oil paintings, please contact me.