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With multiple degrees – a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Maryland, a masters degree in journalism from University of Oregon, a second masters in linguistics from Georgetown, and a Ph.D. in linguistics from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Ally Burguieres would seem to have no shortage of career options. Yet it was painting, which began as an outlet for relaxation, that ultimately became her primary focus.
“I love learning and languages and culture,” says Burguieres, whose years in academia have included teaching media arts at Tulane University. “But after getting my doctorate, I pursued my passion for visual arts rather than staying on that path exclusively.”
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., and linked to New Orleans via her father, who was born and raised here, Burguieres brought her talents to the Crescent City in 2010. Today, she owns and operates two French Quarter galleries devoted to her work, which is driven by her lifelong love of animals and her dedication to animal welfare causes. Gallery Burguieres showcases Burguieres’ original paintings (including whimsical, colorful depictions and a black and white series designed to look like notebook sketches), prints and giclees. Cocoally, named after Burguieres and her rescued, 6-year-old Chihuahua, Coco, is home to the artist’s line of wearable art and accessories, which includes T-shirts, coats, skirts, totes, wish beads and more. (Coco spends most of his time at the Gallery and loves to visit with customers).
Oct. 1 is World Vegetarian Day and Nov. 1 is World Vegan Day. But at Burguieres’ two eponymous businesses, every day is Vegan Day. “I’ve started to get more involved with veganism for ethical, environmental and humanitarian reasons,” says Burguieres, who like Coco adheres to a vegan diet. She attends “Veggie Fests” nationwide, is strengthening her online presence and has partnered with nonprofits including the Audubon Institute and the Louisiana SPCA to promote her wares and her message. She also supplied the animal-centric art for SEED, a vegan restaurant in the Lower Garden District, and plans to open another outpost of Cocoally next door to the animal-friendly eatery by late summer. “I feel like I’m living in line with my beliefs,” says Burguieres. “It’s very gratifying to be invested with something you care so much about and to feel like you have something of value to contribute.”