There is no doubt that art, and a deep passion for it, comprise one of the central arteries through which the vitality of this city flows. For that reason it’s always challenging to focus in on select spots but, in doing so, we can exemplify the diversity of art and artistic outlets available to New Orleans natives and tourists.

Fueled by a desire to provide great art at affordable prices, Guy Lyman recently opened Guy Lyman Fine Art at 3645 Magazine St. Despite opening a business in the middle of a recession, Lyman says that he’s doing well because of the great value he can pass on to his clients in the forms of classic landscapes, nudes and still life paintings dating back to the 1800s. “People think you have to spend between $2,500 to $5,000 for a good painting,” he says. “It’s simply not true – and not affordable for many people. My mission is to prove that you can have really good-quality, classic art on your walls for a lot less.”

“I have beautiful oils starting at $400,” says Lyman. “People don’t realize they can take the posters and prints off their walls and replace them with truly beautiful works of art.”

The Coup d’Oeil Art Consortium at 2033 Magazine St., is a progressive setting well-suited to the unconventional, contemporary art it displays. Ever since Hurricane Katrina, owner Ken Capone has been promoting young artists who channel the Big Easy. “Our artists work from a primal impulse, resulting in imagery which is typically outside the domain of conventional work,” he explains. “Our mission at Coup involves the question of, ‘what are the various value dimensions of artwork and how does the work gain such value?’”

Coup is currently running a solo show (all of its shows single out one artist) featuring the work of Mason Salterrelli. A native New Orleanian, Salterrelli has been working from New York with artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel since 2001. Salterrelli uses images of dolls, skulls, snakes and spirit-eyes to represent the struggle between goodness and malevolence.

Prices run low at Coup as well, from $200 for a drawing to $3,500 for an oil painting. Capone has sold pieces to recognized private collectors and even to the Frederick Weisman Gallery in Los Angeles. “The gallery was born out of difficult circumstances,” says Capone. “However, we’re delighted to be showcasing works by emerging artists both within and outside the city. The film industry has been particularly supportive, picking up pieces and raising the profile of these young, talented artists.” He adds that “We love it when people just stop by and begin their own conversation with art and our gallery.”

Further downtown, local artist Mary Catherine Romaguera owns the colorful MC Romaguera Studio at 711 Royal St. She puts a unique, youthful spin on the city’s vibrant origins.

Romaguera began painting at the age of 3. She learned watercolors from her grandmother, Lee P. Romaguera, another local artist.

She began learning oil painting by age 7.

The younger Romaguera channels New Orleans and the southern Louisiana lifestyle into her acrylic paintings and other work, which range from abstract landscapes to defined architecture. She draws on New Orleans traditions
and wildlife for her work and is most commonly known for her series “Crawfish Hearts.” She has sold pieces throughout the United States and Europe.

Romaguera is also available to work on personally commissioned pieces. She works from photographs and original designs and can create new original designs on her own. Clients may even have say in the color palette used to ensure that the piece is perfectly suited to the place or person for which it is intended.

Another French Quarter Gallery is the Martin Lawrence Gallery at 433 Royal St. Martin Lawrence has 11 locations across the United States, showcasing tried-and-true art names alongside up-and-coming artists. His galleries feature some of the largest collections of Pablo Picasso, Mark Chagall, Andy Warhol and others and have load over 250 pieces to 32 museums (including the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City) over the last 15 years.

Despite their acclaim, the personnel at Martin Lawrence make it their priority to create an unintimidating environment where passers-by are welcome to drop in and browse. All the while the staff prides itself on offering the highest quality of work at the best value, along with an ethos of integrity and affordability.

The Jean Bragg Gallery specializes in paintings by Louisiana artists from the late 19th and 20th centuries. The gallery also displays plenty of work by established and emerging contemporary artists from around Louisiana. On top of all this, Bragg boasts a collection of pottery, arts and crafts from Newcomb College and George Ohr. She has an acclaimed collection of Shearwater Pottery decorated by Walter Inglis Andserson and James McConnell Anderson.

Bragg herself is something of a local treasure. She has travelled the country for over 30 years, promoting Southern art and providing collectors and museums alike with premium specimens of the genre.

Walking into the gallery in the historic 1832 building at 600 Julia St., customers find a treasure trove of art spotlighting Louisiana landscapes and culture. With prices ranging form $250 to $5,000, they are hard-pressed to leave without a little piece of Louisiana history. The miniature paintings of some of the city’s celebrated delicacies (including, of course, beignets and crawfish) make a treasured gift and an eye-catching piece in any kitchen.

Finally, for those interested in expanding their knowledge or beginning a new adventure in art, the Newcomb Art Gallery offers a wealth of resources – and the gallery itself and its programs are free and open to the public.

Lectures by noted scholars will address special exhibits or the existing art collection, such as “Global Cosplay: Japan’s Soft Power in the 21st Century,” which examines the current impact of global consumption of Japanese fashion. There are also many special events such as “How Artists Use Textiles as Influence,” a gallery walk-through with printmaker Teresa Cole. A Family Art Day features children’s book-reading and drawing for ages 6 and up.

The collections are focused on the crafts produced at Newcomb College from the late 19th century though the early 20th century. There are more than 4600 examples of pottery, metalwork, embroidery and bound books. There are also a number of rare exhibition-only pieces and, throughout the gallery, there are pieces by past and present faculty and students of the Newcomb Art Department.

When visiting Newcomb, be sure to look up. There are two notable Tiffany window triptychs installed in Woodward Way, flanking the entrance to the gallery. They are a beautiful way to start.