Jan 18, 201204:45 AM
Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard

A Walk in Bywater

Photo by Morgan Packard

When I first moved to New Orleans (to attend Newcomb College in 1999), Bywater was a place that only those “in the know” talked about; and when it was mentioned, we were warned to only go “with a group.”

Since then, much has changed in that neighborhood and in New Orleans (understatement of the century, right?). I’ve had a blast in Bywater and in other sections of town from which I was once warned away.

When I went to Bywater last weekend, I found it to be everything I was promised in college and more – except that going “with a group” still holds true, but only because it can be more fun that way.

My fiancé, a very dear friend and I had made the trek (because when you live in “the sliver on the river” anything more than a five-minute drive is considered a trek) to visit with a friend and hit Euclid Records to see if we could find any treasures. (Quick aside: last time we went to Euclid, I found a pristine copy of the self-titled record The Wild Tchoupitoulas for a great price – it’s my personal soundtrack to Mardi Gras and I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to hold a piece of vinyl.)

Instead, after a late-afternoon meal our Bywater-residing friend suggested a visit to “an installation” and a “constitutional” around his neighborhood.

The installation is entitled: “‘Constant Abrasive Irritation Produces The Pearl: A Disease of the Oyster?’ – Lenny Bruce” and is located at 639 Desire St., in a home that comprises many buildings that have formerly been a speakeasy, an ironworks, wallpaper storage and more. Though this late 18th-century house has been known to rock ‘n’ roll, this current satellite exhibition of Prostpect.2 is the first time the space has been open to the public.

Entering this space was, for me, almost overwhelming. Each corner, space, bookshelf, table and bench is full of carefully chosen pieces – though without consideration, it could look just like someone’s junk piled about. Throughout this exhibit, curated by artist and DJ John Otte, pieces, mostly video art installations, by 22 artists are hung, placed and almost hidden around corners.

I felt like a small child who has just been taken up into Grandmother’s attic to hunt for treasure.

I wish I could better explain the arresting nature of this exhibition, but it must be experienced to be believed. I will say that my favorite pieces are a bathtub full of sped-up time-lapse blooming flowers (projected from above) and a tiered series of white steps full of sand and objects located in the back left corner of the backyard (trust me, go look at this one).

We spent over an hour in the exhibit and speaking with Otte, but I could’ve spent an evening or more to even begin to take in all that’s on display.

After our visit to “The Pearl,” we walked around the neighborhood, popping into Satsuma and a couple second-hand shops (It was lovely to meet you, Wes!) looking for another man’s trash to make into treasure.

I never would’ve thought that a walk through Bywater would turn into a successful treasure hunt.

“‘Constant Abrasive Irritation Produces The Pearl: A Disease of the Oyster?’ – Lenny Bruce” is only open for four more days! Make sure to catch it Saturdays and Sundays (Jan. 21, 22, 28 and closing night, Jan. 29) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Maybe you’ll find your own treasure.

Reader Comments:
Jan 18, 2012 03:05 pm
 Posted by  kittybits

This was my favorite installation, too. It's even better at night!

Jan 19, 2012 11:16 am
 Posted by  iiammoon

I love I stumbled on this blog after moving into Bywater 1 1/2 weeks ago. I,TOO,was "warned" about this not being safe,"not unlike how safe you were living Uptown".. Safe from what? I haven't yet had a chance to explore but looking forward to doing so. I'm not naive nor have a need for a rush in fact, for the record, I'm a 61 yr old disabled grandmother. I lived Uptown since I returned back to NOLa in 2009 & while it had its benefits, it was,for me, as boring as watching beige paint dry! It does not have to be an either/or,every neighborhood has pluses or minuses. No one is confined to one thing. The irony for me the day after I moved someone was shot right @ Walgreen on the corner of S. Carrolton/S. Claiborne. So safe,eh?

May 2, 2013 06:08 pm
 Posted by  bywaterbuskers


We are having a meeting on Sunday, at 5pm, at Flora's in the Bywater to discuss the gentrification going on in the Bywater.

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Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard


Morgan Packard may not be a native New Orleanian, but with every passing day New Orleans becomes more her home. Attending Newcomb College and gaining her masters from Tulane University, Packard immersed herself in the culture and peculiarities of the Big Easy, the culmination of which was reached when she joined the staff of Renaissance Publishing in May 2006. You can reach Morgan at (504) 830-7227 or morgan@myneworleans.com.




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