Culture is cool during August, when outside temps soar and museums citywide encourage art lovers to chill inside. New Orleans Museum Month lets you scout out 17 separate venues at one low price. From the National WWII Museum and the New Orleans Jazz Museum to the Old Ursuline Convent and Longue Vue House & Gardens, there’s a lot to take in. Purchase membership to one museum and admission to the rest is free…all month long.
Even cooler is Art & AC, a collaboration between the Helis Foundation, FOX 8 News and three of the city’s largest museums. When the station’s meteorologists clock the temperature at 93 degrees or higher, admission is free the following day at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Contemporary Arts Center and the New Orleans Museum of Art, where visitors are treated to free snoballs. Stop by the front desk at each, and enter your name for a raffle drawing of artist David Armentor’s “New Orleans Color Study” print.
A quick trip across the Mississippi River (take the Crescent City Connection bridge, exit at 6B, continue through the light, then hang a left on Scottsdale Drive) leads to a weekends-only, covered, open-air market called the Westbank Flea Market. Bucking the convention of traditional flea markets filled with second-hand goods and crafts, this is more of a food hall, covered yet open-air, with more than 10 fully wired-and-plumbed mini-restaurants serving dishes from Central America and Cuba.
Café Cuba’s small menu of classics includes two versions of the Cuban sandwich—one on pressed French bread, the other on tostones (fried green plantains)—stacked with tender slices of family-recipe roasted pork, bright with the flavor of spices and naranja agria (sour orange), smoky ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard. A side of crisp, golden fried yucca comes with a ketchup-mayo dipping sauce.
There is an Asian crepe vendor; a Puerto Rican spot with an impressive menu including rarely found mafongo (mashed green plaintain); a Colombian woman working a grill filled with marinated meats to go on big platters piled with fresh-made tortillas, cheese, rice, beans and vegetables; and a fresh fruit stand where giant slices of papaya, mango and watermelon are topped with fresh-squeezed lime juice and liberal dustings of salt and spices.
There is much to try at this market/food hall, so come hungry. It’s well worth with short ride.
Over the past year New Orleans, like the rest of the nation, has wrestled with the contentious issue of Confederate monuments, their removal from prominent public spaces and what—if anything— should go in their place. Enter Colloqate Design, a local nonprofit “dedicated to organizing community around the purpose of place before politics and the preservation of culture before capital,” which canvassed the public for input.
The result is Paper Monuments, an evolving series of commissioned artworks designed “to honor the erased histories of the people, places, movements and events that have made up the past 300 years.” The enlightening posters serve as temporary totems memorializing pivotal points in the city’s evolution: the legend of Bras-Coupé, a runaway slave who was hung in Jackson Square; the 1892 labor union strike; the 1960 civil rights sit-in at McCrory’s; the 1977 gay rights protest against Anita Bryant.
You’ll spot the posters pasted up at the corner of Canal Street and Elks Place and elsewhere around the city, and find them up for grabs at the nearby New Orleans Public Library, Crescent City Books and other locations.