My friend, Sandra Cain, a former resident of New Orleans, says that Pierre Masperos or Masperos Exchange, holds the distinction of serving the best oyster poboys she has ever tasted in NOLA! Although I can’t remember whether or not it was my food choice the day I frequented the place, it is commonly promoted as “Very New Orleans-y…where people-watching at the venerable French Quarter eatery is almost as seductive as the perfectly-seasoned, (Cajun-Creole) entrees.”I am assured by my friend, Mary Ann Riggle that she can actually smell the matchless aromas of the city, as well as feel its famous sunshine on her skin in my acrylic painting of the historic restaurant. Located at No. 440 Chartres Street at St. Louis Street and formerly known as La Bourse de Masperos, it was the slave-trading house and coffee shop of Pierre Masperos. I regret that Google wouldn’t reveal to me the biography of Mr. Masperos, and I am not inclined to dig further for it. If any of my readers can enlighten me, I would appreciate it. Having been erected in 1788, it is one of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter. During the early decades of the 19th century, the pirate brothers, Jean and Pierre Lafitte used it as a meeting place of their gang of men. It is also famous as Andrew Jackson’s point of liaison with the brothers Lafitte in their joint planning of the epic Battles of New Orleans during the Revolutionary War.
On the opposite corner at No. 500, stands Napoleon House, a treasured, ancient bar with stucco walls and an apartment on its top floor that in the 19th Century was owned by a former mayor of the city, Nicholas Girod. An advocate of Napoleon Bonaparte, Girod hatched a plan to rescue the deposed emperor from his prison on St. Helena and to provide him safekeeping in the apartment. The emperor died before the elaborate plan was put into place.
The history of the two establishments reminds me that each block of New Orleans holds its mysterious charms and alluring stories, unending inspirations for a storyteller like me. The artist in me is fulfilled as well by the Caribbean colors of its distinctive architecture and its mélange of humanity. Unique history, unique people, unique music, unique food, unique architecture, unique culture, I tried to capture the essence of all of those things in my painting.
This painting has won two Roscoe Awards (People’s Choice for Best of Show), both of them at art shows at CS Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. A balmy evening in April, 2012 was the occasion of the first award and it was during an exhibition of paintings by artist-members of the Grove City (Ohio) Arts Council, with which I am associated. A month ago, the gallery invited all of the Roscoe Award winners for the year to participate in a showing of our own and I am happy to announce that my painting was designated as the winner of the winners. I have two great big and beautiful ribbons to attest to the wins, as well as cash prizes. Nice! My special thanks go out to the attendees of the art show who voted for it and took it to the top.
For information on purchasing this, and my other paintings, as well as prints of all of them, log onto www.gallery-llgreene.com.
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