Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Get your head in the game at Marie Antoinette screening

Kirsten Dunce stars as Marie Antoinette. 
You’ll lose your head over this event. Okay, enough with the puns. 

The New Orleans Museum of Art, in conjunction with its current exhibition, “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes,” will screen the Sofia Coppola 2006 film “Marie Antoinette” this Friday (April 13, 2018) on the lawn of the City Park museum. The film focuses on the teenage Austrian princess who becomes the queen of France and who dies by guillotine 23 years later after living a life of luxury and fame.

But that’s not all. There will be food trucks from Diva Dawgs (gotta love the name association there) and La Cocinita, not to mention a bar because this is, of course, New Orleans. And there’s more! Here’s the schedule:
5 - 7:30 pm: Art on the Spot family activity table
6 - 7:30 pm: Pre-show music by DJ Swamp Boogie and a dance performance by Trixie Minx productions as decadent as Marie Antoinette's fashions
7:30 - 9:30 pm: Screening of Marie Antoinette (Rated PG-13 | 2 hours, 3 minutes | Watch the trailer here.

Aminata, from The Studio of Vanities Series, 2013, by Omar Victor Diop

The event is free to museum members, $12 to nonmember adults, $10 nonmember seniors and $6 nonmember children ages 7-12. Free to children under age 6.

“A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes” includes experimental gowns, headpieces, and jewelry by avant-garde fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and Iris van Herpen, which investigate symbols of womanhood and expand the theme of fashion as art. More than 100 articles of fashion are presented in a gallery design that explores seven archetypal personality types, including Sage, Magician, Enchantress, Explorer, Mother Earth, Heroine, and Thespian.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Bury me with a spirit jug: viewing African American art, culture and history at the Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia

Spirit jugs were used by African Americans to honor members of the family after they passed. The jug was plastered and then crusted with items belonging to the deceased person or persons. This jug (left) was created in the 1920s in South Georgia and is on display at the Tubman Museum in Macon. Once decorated, spirit jugs were used at gravesites or kept in the house to remember loved ones. It's believed the custom of spirit jugs is rooted in West African charm traditions.

The Tubman Museum in Macon is the Southeast's largest museum dedicated to the art, history and culture of African Americans. It has more than 7000 items, many on display, including items from the Jim Crow area, Macon's African American leaders, a quilt display and an exhibit on Harriett Tubman, for whom the museum is named.

Other exhibits include "King of Soul: Otis Redding in Photographs," "Untold Stories: Macon's African American History," "The World of Mr. Imagination," "From Africa to America," "From the Minds of African Americans" and "Black Artists of Georgia."

One of my favorite pieces in the of Georgia African American artist exhibit was this mixed media artwork, below, created by Amalia Amaki, titled "I'd Rather Two-Step Than Waltz." Her work often starts with stereotypical images of African Americans but Amaki uses "buttons and other found objects to transform these images into objects of power," according to the artist's note. This piece includes buttons, postcards, photographs and images of flowers.

The Tubman Museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $10 adults, $6 children ages 3-17 and $8 for AAA and AARP members, seniors, military personnel and educators.

Below are more photographs from the Tubman Museum.

I'd Rather Two-Step Than Waltz
Little Richard's piano
Harriett Tubman

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A lesson in courage and perseverance at Paschal's of Atlanta on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death

The walls of Paschal's Restaurant.
Robert and James Paschal earned 75 cents a week as farmers in Thompson, Georgia, much less than their white counterparts. James went into the service while Robert headed to Atlanta in search of a better living. Robert found a job serving ice cream in a drugstore, but his entrepreneurial spirit kept him thinking ahead. He decided to open a restaurant across the street with his brother, James, when he came back from the military.

This was 1947 and Paschal's Restaurant had three employees, including the two brothers, and could only seat 30 diners at a time. What's more amazing than two struggling African American men opening a business in the Jim Crow South was the fact that the restaurant didn't have a stove! Robert's wife cooked the meals in their home, then transported the dishes by taxi, which Robert didn't own a car.

None of that mattered. The people came.

Marshal Salek
"We had a line out the door because people had heard about Robert's fried chicken," explained Marshal Salek, who worked for the Paschal brothers since the beginning and told us stories of the restaurant over dinner.

The brothers eventually expanded the business, which included a stove this time, and business boomed. Later, they opened a larger restaurant at 830 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, formerly Hunter Street, and then La Carousel Lounge in 1960 where acts such as Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls and Lena Horn performed.

"It was magnificent," Salek said of the lounge. "It was the most beautiful place the state of Georgia had ever seen."

So popular and attracting such big-name acts, that white patrons arrived.

"Black and white sitting together," said Salek, 79. "No incidents."
Paschal's Restaurant

In 1967, the Paschal Motor Hotel opened with its 120 rooms, swimming pool and meeting space. Both the restaurant and the hotel became a meeting place for members of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Once when a group of Atlanta students visited Alabama for a protest, they were jailed, and Robert Paschal raised money to get them home, Salek said.

"I've never seen kids with so much courage and so much determination," he said.

On this anniversary of King's assassination, his memory lives on at Paschal's Restaurant, which is located in a new building at 180 Northside Drive in Atlanta. Folks still visit Paschal's for its famous fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens and peach cobbler, but also for its legacy. On the walls are photos of King, Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson and the many presidents who visited Paschal's over the years.

"He was the easiest person in the world," Salek said of King, who welcomed everyone when he visited the restaurant.

Today (April 4, 2018) in Atlanta, the Center for Civil and Human Rights will offer free admission and conduct a bell ringing ceremony at 7:01 p.m. Eastern Time to commemorate the moment of King's assassination 50 years ago.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Artwork going down the drain in Lafayette

Dirk Guidry, a 2012 graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette, Louisiana, painted this EcoArt installation in front of the campus’ Edith Garland Dupré Library. The artwork is part of Lafayette Consolidated Government's efforts to educate about water runoff and the Vermilion River that runs through the city.

Guidry hails from "down the bayou" in Galliano, Louisiana. He received a bachelor of Fine Arts from ULL with a concentration in painting. He currently lives in Lafayette and paints portraits, landscapes and murals throughout Lafayette and Louisiana.

Want to see him create a mural in Lafayette? Click here.

And here he is creating "Acadiana Crawdad" during the city's May 2015 ArtWalk.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen. She is also the author of several non-fiction books, and novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire.