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NOLA Roadies: taking art to the streets, and highways

Scobie O'Hara displays 'Roadies' at Freret Market

For Robert “Scobie” O’Hara, art is where you find it.

I found O’Hara and his art at Freret Market recently, sharing a tent with another artist. I was attracted by the brightly colored, spinning tchotchkes on display. Granted, it doesn’t take much to get my attention; bright colors and moving parts usually do the trick.

O’Hara calls his pieces “NOLA Roadies.” Each one consists of a collection of shiny trinkets and a propeller threaded onto a short metal rod, mounted on a suction cup base.

Stick one on your car’s hood, and you’ll instantly become a rolling fiesta.

“The faster you drive, the more it spins, and it dances,” he says.

Although O’Hara claims to be an inventor, not an artist, I beg to differ. Each piece is unique, made with discarded Mardi Grad beads and items he finds at thrift stores.

“I put on some beads, a propeller, some more beads,” O’Hara says. “Then on the top, I melt on something plastic. Sea creatures, fleurs-de-lis, peace symbols, you name it. Every sea creature in the world. Jungle animals. Cats and dogs. There’s no two alike.”

O’Hara usually sells his Roadies — appropriately enough — from the road, but recently opened a booth at Freret Market.

“[Usually] I’m on the freeway with my phone number on the back of the car, and I’ve got like eight or 10 Roadies stuck all over the car, and people honk or they call that number.”

My very own Roadie

In any case, the spinning NOLA Roadies seem to have “taken off,” and the retired merchant seaman, originally from Washington state, seems to have found his niche here.

“This seems like a New Orleans kind of thing,” he says enthusiastically. “So here we go!”

Most Roadies are priced between $10 and $15. I found one for myself with a poker theme that I couldn’t resist. Just look for Scobie at Freret Market (usually held the first Saturday of each month), call him at 504-400-6067, or email him at

After all, it’s a small price to pay to become a rolling fiesta.




Glen Abbott is a New Orleans-based freelance travel writer/photographer. Visit his blog at


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