As part of a content partnership with Nola Studiola, a collaborative online platform where various artists — visual and literary — curate the site with their own content for month-long “residencies,” we will feature monthly “dispatches” from Nola Studiola’s artists. This feature series focuses on the artists’ reflections of their curatorial work at Nola Studiola.
The featured curator is New Orleans-based artist and gardener Anna Timmerman. Raised on a farm in rural Michigan, Timmerman developed an aptitude for gardening at a young age, learning from three generations of master gardeners within the family. At Michigan State University, she studied Crop and Soil Sciences for two years before transferring to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Drawing and Painting.
In 2012, Timmerman moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where her current painting studio and gardening practice are located. Timmerman’s current egg tempera works reflect her time spent in gardens around the city and tend to contain both examples of local flora and hybrid creations not found in nature. Her paintings work as documentation of a diverse and ever changing garden history of the Gulf South.
Timmerman’s gardening practice is a collaboration with SAIC 2011 alumni Cassidy Stock (BFA), and includes many private historic Garden District homes, the Museum of the Civil War Garden, the Pitot House Museum Gardens, and several traditional Creole kitchen gardens or potagers. Timmerman and Stock’s work with physical gardens has begun to develop into a collaborative art practice, blurring the line between studio and garden.
I took my time as curator for the November edition of Studiola to further explore the arts and cultural events happening in New Orleans surrounding the Prospect 3 Biennial, the New Orleans Comics and Zines Festival, Fringe Fest and Thanksgiving weekend. All month long there were performances, puppet shows, concerts, art installations and feasts to attend, sometimes double or triple booked for the same evening. Add that to the regular slew of social events, birthday parties, pop-up dinners, secret parades, weekly secondlines and the arrival snowbird visitors from up North and I quickly realized the staggering amount of wonderful things happening in New Orleans that we sometimes take for granted.
All was well for the first week of November, and I’d begun to pencil in a game plan for visiting art galleries, concert halls and repurposed spaces to write about for the Studiola blog. I put the word out on my Facebook page about what I would be doing this month and the event invitations flooded in. And then I got bronchitis.
I was sidelined for two weeks, following an early cold snap that was accompanied by wet drizzly weather. I was stuck in bed and it didn’t take long before the whole neighborhood knew how sick I was. A neighbor regularly knocked on the door when everyone else was at work to ask if I needed anything from Walgreens. My partner, DJ, and musician Rotten Milk attended the many events that I planned to and came home each night describing the amazing and exciting things that he saw. A puppet troupe from Puerto Rico parked their forty foot long blue whale within eyesight of my bedroom window, and stayed for three days in the living room. Our interactions were limited to “good morning” and “hey” since no one wanted to get sick before performing next at Miami’s Art Basel.
Finally, a few days before Thanksgiving, the cough went away. I slept through the day and night uninterrupted and when Thanksgiving morning came and the weather was warm and sunny, I put on my party clothes and downed my first mimosa by 10:00 a.m. I spent the day hugging friends like I hadn’t seem them in years. I gambled on the horse races and lost. By 1:00 p.m. I was feeling great, stuffed with food and buzzed with champagne. From then on, I was playing catch up with my curatorial duties, but a lot of the exciting events and festivals had come and gone.
Looking back at the things I did get to write about, I now realize just how special a cultural community we live in here in New Orleans. Where else can someone park a life size whale sculpture on wheels in your yard and not have anyone look twice, or think it was strange, other than maybe the context of “why are you starting so early on your float?” There are still plenty of arts happenings taking place as we near Christmas. After that comes Twelfth Night and the Joan of Arc parade — kicking off Carnival and the roller coaster of parties and events leading up to Mardi Gras., the highlight of the social calendar for many members of NOLA’s creative community. So maybe I didn’t miss as much as I thought. The city is just beginning to get interesting!
View Timmerman’s paintings, as well as her garden and curatorial works in the gallery below.