The Beautiful People of New Orleans

In December 2019, I embarked on a solo journey to one of the best cities in the States (strictly personal opinion): New Orleans

I’ll spare you the details of why I think New Orleans is a great city. That would be an article for another day.

This one is inspired by the local artists I met at the Dutch Alley Artist Co-op.

The few artists of The Dutch Alley Artist Coop. From the left: Stephany Lyman, Pat Lee and John Darre. This was taken on the last day I was in New Orleans.

How it all started

On the second day of my trip, I was supposedly scheduled to go to a kayak tour at Manchac Bayou, but due to undesirable cold weather, it was postponed to the next day. I didn’t have much of a plan or a fixed itinerary made when I initially planned this trip since I wanted to explore recklessly. Also, I didn’t want to make this trip feel like a checklist that I have to go through. So, I decided to go rogue and walk around the French Market to see what is there for me to sink my teeth into.

However, the cold kept both the gators and people of New Orleans cooped in their cozy homes. The French Market was practically empty. I wandered further into the city centre and that was when I stumbled upon this art shop. My initial intention to go in was merely to seek warmth and maybe check out some possible souvenirs. Thankfully, I got more than that;)

There was a small party held to celebrate the artist of the month who happened to be a local photographer named Tammy Gaulter. And it all started when they asked for my help to take a picture for them.

Long story short, Tammy and I had quite a lengthy conversation. At first, it was about the work that won her the title “Artist of the Month”, then on how she started her journey in photography, and it eventually ends after she shared her pictures of past experiences joining the festivities of the Mardi Gras and Jazz Festival. She even went to the lengths of taking out her calendar to show me what was the best season to visit New Orleans and made sure that I planned my next trip well enough to enjoy them. That day, I was also introduced to another exquisite artist; Sabine Chadborn who makes jewellery and I bought one of her green-coloured copper rings to remember them by.

I was called to come again the next day because Tammy wished to share some insights and experiences on photography, considering how long she has been involved in it. She thought I would benefit from it as well. I was ecstatic at this point because I realized that I’ve made new friends.

This is Sabine Chadborn in her element and holding her tools. She was attending her booth at the French Market.

I met more people and learned a few things along the way

The next day, after my exhausting kayak trip, I went to the store for some promising advice from Tammy. To my surprise, I get to chat with another OG in the photography game; John Darre’. His work was assembled next to Tammy’s. A native New Orleanian, he credited most of his work on the vibrant colours and uplifting mood New Orleans tends to bring out to people who go there.

Having had the photographers themselves explained how their work came to be, I learned something.

  1. Growing up in a world where editing is the heart of digital photography, I was used to the beautifully edited pictures across social media. Yes, they are undeniably breathtaking but they became mundane because they shared one message; to enhance the view regardless even if it consequently produces some unrealistic expectations to the viewers’ eyes’; especially in landscape photography. The nature is modestly beautiful and that is how we enjoy them when we go into the wild. Modesty. It automatically brings us down to Earth and crazy edits just change the whole experience.
  2. Their work was not what I usually admire when I scroll my Instagram feed but the story behind it was so profound and thought-provoking that I couldn’t stop staring at it (I am not exaggerating). My current conscience still has a clear view of how the white walls were decorated with meaningful photographs by these local artists who appreciate their city. And believe me when I tell
  3. Collectively, art is subjective (yes, this is common knowledge). That is why it is important to incorporate meaning into whatever you do. It doesn’t have to adhere to anyone’s interest or the common society’s but should be catered to the nourishment of your soul and to what you find is important to you.

Right after John left me to explore the store to enjoy other work of arts on display, then came a man with a flat cap, slowly approaching me, probably curious about my conversation with John. That man is a talented ceramic artist, Pat Lee and he shares his passion for ceramics with his dear wife. Surprisingly, Pat’s parents were Malaysians (same here!) who migrated to the States and he was not shy to share his ventures and journey into the ceramic art. We also shared our passion for Malaysian food and some details on Pat’s last visit to Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia.

Why I’m Sharing This

  • The Dutch Alley Artist Coop basically is an art store that exhibits the works of local artists. To manage it, they created a rotating schedule on who stays at the store and so basically every day, you get to meet different artists. I love this idea as it emanates a sense of community of local artists supporting each others’ work and company. There were a plethora of different types of arts available on the store, ranging from hand-made jewellery to photography, canvas art or even ornaments made from recyclables. Seeing people who enjoy their art as much as these people do, I came to understand how different art and science can impact a person’s perspective. I was never much invested in the world of art back in Malaysia. So, to my friends in Malaysia reading this, and actually has suggestions on great places (not art museums) to visit, feel free to tell me:)
  • The few artists that I got a chance to meet were super friendly and affable, made me feel like home and eagerly shared their New Orleans culture with me. I thought that their store deserved more attention and love. If you’re ever in New Orleans, go visit their store:)

All in all, it never hurts to check out their short bio and artwork neatly assembled on their website http://www.dutchalleyartistsco-op.com/aboutus.html and their instagram page.

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