Amistad Research Center, Hancock Whitney partner to ‘use history to uplift’

New this month is a virtual exhibit that shows how New Orleans has benefited from Black leadership and engagement since the 19th century. Hancock Whitney and the Amistad Research Center at Tulane have partnered to present this curated collection, entitled “The Things We Do for Ourselves: African American Leadership in New Orleans.”

The exhibit uses Google Cultural Institute’s platform to create a virtual expansion of a past physical exhibition at the center. The virtual collection went live in celebration of Black History Month, though it was created as a free, permanent and accessible way to give back to the communities the organizations serve. Christopher Harter, deputy director of the Amistad Research Center, said it is important for the local community to see how African American civic leadership helped shape New Orleans. The purpose of this collection, he said, is “to educate the public about not only the historical materials that are housed in Amistad’s collections, but how these materials are relevant to the questions and issues that we’re facing today.”

The Business Bar on Freret caters to mixing business and pleasure

A new restaurant and bar that aims to support the business community opened on 4525 Freret St. on Friday. A combination bar, restaurant and workspace, The Business Bar was already packed on opening night when it held a happy hour for entrepreneurs. Laughter and conversation bounced off the walls; some customers grooved in their seats to the R&B music playing overhead, while others mixed business and pleasure as they worked on their laptops while also clinking cocktails with names like “Old Fashioned Grind,” “Bloody Fresh Start” and “Break Even Expresso.” 

The co-owners of the restaurant were putting in sweat equity as they rushed to keep up with the flood of customers on opening night. Jade Newman, 31, sprayed down tables and greeted customers while Jessica Robinson, 32, manned the bar.

New wine shop from Second Vine Wine proposed for Magazine Street

The stretch of Magazine Street between Gen. Pershing and Milan streets has seen a lot of comings and goings of businesses through the years, and even more recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One new business that plans to open in the next few months is Second Vine Wine, in the space that most recently housed the Claudia Croazzo clothing store, at 4210-14 Magazine St. If the wine shop’s name is familiar, it’s because Second Vine Wine was previously located in the Marigny Triangle. It closed last year in March, just after the pandemic and lockdowns began. But you can’t keep a wine lover and educator away from Bacchus’ call, and Troy Gant, one of the previous Second Vine Wine owners, is harvesting a new wine shop.

How Ceaux’s Carnival poster series reflects the Black Mardi Gras experience

Every year since 2016, New Orleans-born-and-raised multimedia artist Courtney “Ceaux” Buckley, of Axiom Gallery on Freret Street, has been painting vibrant and detailed posters that depict the Black Mardi Gras experience. Through this annual poster series, Buckley said, he not only aims to provide a representation of the Black experience during Carnival season, but that he also intends to normalize it. “I don’t think we should always be presented like a big deal,” he said. “These things go on all the time, every year, it’s recurring.”

He adds that it is important for Black people from New Orleans to see representations of their culture in this more generalized way opposed to only packaged news stories and documentaries. Inspiration and communal Black experiences

Buckley said that the poster series was inspired by childhood photos lost in the levee failures after Hurricane Katrina.

Yardi Gras Stories: Carrollton-Hollygrove homes are as proud, and as colorful, as peacocks

Creativity isn’t canceled. 

In the Carrollton-Hollygrove neighborhood, the houses are especially colorful. The Carrollton-Hollygrove subkrewe’s theme is “Nesting in Place” — a nod to the neighborhood bird sanctuary that resident peacocks call home. 

Courtney Bullock, one of the subkrewe’s co-captains explains how the Krewe of House Floats idea came together. “It all blew up in a week,” Bullock said. “There was a division of neighborhoods, and I knew that people would want to decorate their houses — we just had to do something.” 

Bullock’s house, adorned with musical instruments and a piano banner, has a musical theme. “The title of my house float is ‘Lay That Funky Music,’” she said.

Yardi Gras Stories: House floats bring neighbors together in Central City

Mardi Gras parades may be cancelled, but that hasn’t stopped residents of Central City from turning their neighborhood into a festive Wonderland. Central City is one of the many neighborhoods participating in Yardi Gras, an alternative to Mardi Gras parades where homeowners decorate their own houses as floats. On the 3200 block of Dryades, for example, residents are working together to turn four homes into “Alice in Wonderland”-themed house floats. 

Friends and neighbors came together on Saturday to start putting up whimsical decorations. One house was the Cheshire Cat, and the others were the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar and the Mad Hatter. The neighbors shared pizza and art supplies as they decorated, and music kept everyone bouncing. 

“We have all embraced it, and we have had a lovely time,” said Shirley Madison, the Queen of Hearts.