Our top picks of the month’s events
African American Art
The New Orleans Museum of Art, partnering with the Amistad Research Center, presents “Beyond the Blues: Reflections on African America from the Fine Arts Collection of the Amistad Research Center” through July 11. The exhibition features more than 150 works of art by – and depicting – African Americans. It is drawn from the fine arts collection of the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. Highlighted are many of the hardships, challenges and contributions faced by black artists from the late 19th century to the present. Personal papers have also been selected, and will be showcased along with various artworks. Artists include Edward Bannister, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett and John T. Scott; at least 60 other artists will also have works displayed.
The purpose of the Bayou Boogaloo is two-fold: It’s a community-building experience, and it raises funds for charities supported by the Mothership Foundation. Each year the event, which is held on the banks of Bayou St. John, draws thousands of visitors who enjoy food, music and art. The festival is free, which is part of its appeal, and each day presents dozen of musicians who put on lively concerts. Some of the bands include Hot Club of New Orleans, Jealous Monk, Susan Cowsill Band, 101 Runners, Gravity A, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, Walter Wolfman Washington, various Mardi Gras Indians and more. More than 20 restaurants will provide eclectic fare, and other lighthearted fun includes the Inaugural Rubber Duck Derby, sponsored by Second Harvest Food Bank. Guests are invited to “adopt” a rubber duck and race it against thousands more; the lucky duck, of course, will win a prize.
For other festivities, check out Boogaloo’s Web site.
Founded in 2001 as an initiative to reach the community with information about HIV and AIDS, the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival has evolved and expanded tremendously. Reaching out to all kinds of individuals – regardless of age, sexual orientation, or level of accomplishment – the festival takes place May 13-16 primarily headquartered at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. Bringing a wide range of writers and readers from around the country and beyond, Saints & Sinners features master classes; panel discussions; and other forums for authors, editors, publishers and fans to talk about various works of literature. Of course, no cultural festival in this city is complete without a party, so on May 13, the festival will kick off with a book launch fundraiser benefiting the NO/AIDS Task Force. An anthology will be given to attendees. “Saints & Sinners 2010: New Fiction from the Festival” includes stories by Wayne Lee Gay, the winner of the First Annual Short Fiction Contest; and Danny Bracco and James Driggers, runners-up. Other not-to-be-missed events during the weekend are the panel discussions that touch upon topics of marketing/social media; how to get writing published; “Fiction, Memoirs and the Space in Between;” and numerous others that are both useful and interesting to writers and fans of good writing. Some of the participants include Noel Alumit, Bernard Cooper, Peter Dube, Lucy Jane Bledsoe and many more. The festival is also offering discounted passes for students and locals.
Information, 581-1144, www.sasfest.org.
Wining and Dining
The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience celebrates its 19th anniversary of bringing cuisine and fine wine to bon vivants in New Orleans. May 25-29, the event unites highly celebrated winemakers, chefs and other top industry insiders for five days of events including tours, seminars, workshops, dinners and more. “Wine dinners” on May 26 bring together winemakers and chefs, who plan menus together; the Vinola tasting & Auction takes place at Harrah’s on May 27 (and will feature award-winners from New Orleans Magazine as well; see pg. 66); and the Royal Street Stroll on May 27 features welcoming galleries offering wine and fine art, and even a parade by the Krewe of Cork. Of course, these are just a few options to check out, but education and indulgence are key ingredients at all the events offered. Information, www.nowfe.com.
Every Memorial Day, New Orleans Greek Fest takes place at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral and offers a delightful cultural way to spend the long weekend. This year, it’s May 28-30, and will feature celebrations of music, food, art, dancing and the overall Greek influence on the city. There are booths of food – for a meal check out a gyro sandwich, and save room for the ever-popular baklava sundae. Greek Fest also has an “Athenian playground” for youngsters, which has a climbing wall, games and canoe rentals. (The festival overlooks Bayou St. John.) Humorous competitions have been known to take place – in the past there have been contests for the “best toga” and even the best “fake or real moustache.” Information, www.greekfestnola.com.