To hear Sharon Litwin’s interview with William Andrews on WWNO radio, click here.
The New Orleans museum world has a new member. William Pittman Andrews, 41, has been working in New Orleans for only four months, but he has definitely hit the ground running. It’s mostly during daylight hours, though, since this recently-appointed Director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art still spends a minimum of 20 hours a week working on his own art – generally between 1 and 6 in the morning!
Over his years teaching students, being a museum administrator and creating his own work, Andrews has devised a seriously structured way of parsing out his time. He says he doesn’t need a lot of time to sleep and spending hours of nocturnal creativity energizes him when he gets to his desk.
“It’s a practice that works for me very well,” he says with a grin.
A devoted believer in museums as centers of community life, this former Director of the University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses, one-time gallery owner and dedicated practicing artist has the definite view that art museums should be encouraging what he calls a “participatory public culture.”
“As a new guy in town, I’m interested in collaborative projects grounded in how to benefit our audiences more,” he says. One example of his inclusive approach: He has already met with colleagues at the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Contemporary Arts Center to discuss a variety of concepts he hopes they can work on together to benefit individual museum visitors.
A native of Starkville, Ms., Andrews has been coming to New Orleans for decades. So he says there’s been no difficulty fitting in here, no culture shock. A through-and-through Southerner, he says this region’s belief in neighborhood and community has been demonstrated to him over and over again in his new home, a place he calls the epicenter of Southern culture. It’s “the largest city, small town” he’s ever been in.
Since the Ogden Museum is part of the University of New Orleans, Andrews looks forward to more participation on the part of students and faculty in addition to membership participation from the community at large.
And now that the French Quarter Festival and Jazz Fest are over, he’s on to his next major event — yes, another social happening. But this time Ogden is the beneficiary. Sippin in Seersucker takes place on Friday, May 18, at the Shops at Canal Place, and Andrews has his quintessential Southern attire ready to wear.
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.