Art & Design Magazine

Painting in Pirate’s Alley #2 - Summer 2014

By Billlives

I described springtime painting in Pirate’s Alley in my last post. The summer season has it’s own character. First, there is the heat. Now the shade and breezes in Pirate’s Alley are welcomed. Some people still tackle the sun on Royal Street in hopes of higher sales, but I go for the shade. There seems to be plenty of foot traffic in the alley. Here is my summer set up at the beginning of the alley at Royal and further down towards Jackson Square.



Next, there is the rain. While there are rainy days in the spring, they are fewer and tend to last most of the day so you don’t even try to set up. The summer brings frequent, sudden, and heavy down pours that usually only last a few minutes. These almost daily occurrences need to be accommodated if you are to maintain a presence in the alley. My solution is the blue tarp made famous as roofing material after Katrina. Through much practice, I got it down so I can cover my paintings in a few minutes. The rain drill often gets several exercises on any day I am in the alley. 



The summer tourists are different: more kids and fewer art buyers. While the spring has many events to attract people to New Orleans and the French Quarter, the summer has its share. For example, there is Satchmo Fest and Red Dress Run. I left painting in the alley to go over to Satchmo Fest for an hour at a time to hear a some favorites such as John Boutte and Kermit. The visitors during Satchmo time were good and purchased some of my work. Red Dress Run is more like Red Dress Stroll. The Quarter is full of men and women wearing skimpy red dresses with drinks in hand. The heavily muscular went topless. No one seems to actually run, even those wearing official entry numbers. This turns into Red Dress Crawl or worse. They are not an art buying crowd and got tiresome after a while.



This year there was a convergence of Red Dress Run, Naughty in New Orleans (the swinger’s convention), and Dirty Linen Night in one weekend. The latter is an event on Royal Street organized in response to White Linen Night by the high-end galleries on Julia Street. That evening red dresses gave way to gallery goers and some art was sold. Several expensive paintings changed hands next to me and I made a gallery connection for the fall. As night came on you could see the shadow of a Mary statue with raised hands reflected on the back of St. Louis Cathedral. Below is an example of the hundreds of similar pictures taken by people clustered with cameras at the entrance to the alley. This scene happens every night and is called the touchdown Mary.


I am looking forward to the fall season on Pirate’s Alley and will bring you the results in a few months. Meanwhile, I hope to see you in the Quarter.

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