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The art of Isaac

Hurricane Isaac debris becomes art with a little manipulation — as in this photograph of branches still piled on a Garden District sidewalk.(Photo by Renee Peck)

So I’m wondering how unreasonable I am to think that debris should be cleared from our streets nearly three weeks after the itinerant Isaac lingered over our city? I mean, Jefferson Parish has made a big thing about saying Monday past was THE last day for debris pick-up.

I have heard a number of opinions about why Orleans Parish is not following suit: The region has run out of trash trucks; there aren’t enough humans to help here; the main streets are cleared, they’re just waiting to clean up the side streets (who knew Carrollton Avenue was a side street?); it’s not fair to make the guys in Parish Prison do it.

My longtime buddy and Crescent City Farmers Market co-founder, Richard McCarthy, believes it is because several of these towers of trees, lumps of leaves and barricades of banana fronds are, in fact, the first Prospect III art installations.

I have to admit, I had not thought of that. So much more understandable — here is a reason I can truly understand, given our cultural economy-minded City Hall. I mean, why clear it out only to have to re-install it?

Artistic treatment could turn storm trash into installation treasure. Glitter, anyone?

So here’s an idea: How about encouraging art-minded neighbors around town to participate in what might be considered (at its conclusion) a true community response to public art? On my street, for example, there are mounds of fallen and artfully gathered twigs and branches, as well as the carcasses of two huge trees. One, in the middle of the street, has browning, brittle foliage, a constant reminder of the fragility of life, a visual reminder of mankind and its fleeting place on this Earth. We could continue to just look at it and grieve, wondering about the meaning of life, or we can actively involve ourselves in this existential natural art form.

So I think we should consider adding artistic embellishment to these lingering debris piles and trash-bag stacks. Currently I am polling (informally, of course) not only my neighbors, but also others around town about whether it would be just too, too tacky to place Halloween decorations on the pile down the street. Or would some type of glitter statement be more appropriate?

The wonderful guys who help park my car when I visit friends at the Carol Apartments voted for (drum roll, please) … glitter. My nearby neighbors voted for Halloween. But then they have a bunch of little kids.

What to do. I’m thinking on it, as we say here. But, always supportive of my more artistically creative colleagues and friends, I am open to any and all suggestions.

Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.








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