“Mending the Sky” at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
It’s exciting news for New Orleans arts lovers! On Oct. 9, NOMA opened “Mending the Sky,” its first major exhibition since the city shut down for months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Open through Jan. 31, the exhibition features 11 artists’ projects. These works are bound by a common theme: a world turned upside down. That theme is explored through the fields of art, animation and performance.
The show’s title comes from a Chinese fable where a rip in the sky causes the Earth to split open, bringing fires, floods, famines, and disease until a goddess mends the broken sky. “Mending the Sky” features several major new acquisitions by local and international artists, giving a global perspective to issues facing New Orleans and the rest of the world. These projects have roots in places as diverse as Brazil, Europe, China, the American South, India, Vietnam and Jamaica.
“’Mending the Sky’ touches on the many complex ideas that we, as a community, have been challenged to address in the times of COVID-19,” said Susan Taylor, the Montine McDaniel Freeman Director at NOMA. “This is an exhibition about loss and uncertainty, but also creates space for recovery, healing, and hope.”
On Sept. 25, New Orleans’ oldest restaurant (180 years young) announced that it would be reopening for lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as brunch on Sundays. The private dining rooms are also open. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 581-4422.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art
If you’re looking to take a trip downtown to enjoy some art, call the Ogden Museum of Southern Art at 539-9650 and reserve a time to visit the museum. Because of social distancing and safety protocols, all visits must occur during a pre-arranged window of time.
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Songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and New Orleanian Leyla McCalla just re-released her album “Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes” after a limited 2013 release. McCalla’s music combines Haitian influences with classic American folk music for a unique sound that pays tribute to the world renowned poet and thinker.
“A Star Is Bored” by Byron Lane
Loyola University of New Orleans graduate Byron Lane spent three years working as the personal assistant to “Star Wars” legend Carrie Fisher. Lane’s new book, “A Star Is Bored,” is a fictionalized tale of Charlie, a young gay man dealing with the demons of a traumatic childhood. Charlie is hired to assist an aging actress who starred in a blockbuster science-fiction film. There are late night shopping sprees, a spur-of-the-moment trip to see the Aurora Borealis and other adventures. Charlie also befriends other assistants, who trade darkly funny stories of the crazy demands their famous employers make.
The story isn’t all comic. There’s a darker side to the actress, who has a pill-popping habit and a sizable self-destructive streak. But ultimately, the relationship between Charlie and his boss is an affectionate one. “The Los Angeles Times” calls it “savage satire leavened with compassion.”
If you live in a city, sometimes you can take its special attractions for granted. The same is true for New Orleanians. With outdoor activity increasing in the wake of COVID-19, consider taking the 30-minutes-or-so (depending on where you are in the city) drive to the Barataria Preserve. It’s part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve and features some wonderful nature hikes through swamps and wetlands. As of press time, the visitor center remains closed, but the trails, restrooms, and parking lots are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Barataria Preserve is located at 6588 Barataria Blvd. in Marrero. For up-to-date information, visit the website at nps.gov/jela.