The Quotable Leah Chase


Sit down for a chat with Leah Chase and you always come away with some quotable memories, advice or even admonishments. Here are a few from her recent interview with Gambit.

On the lessons of home:

"One thing my mother would never allow in our house was the word 'can't.' She'd say, 'It isn't in the dictionary,' and we were too stupid to look it up. If mother said it wasn't a word we believed her and didn't use it."

On her stint managing local boxers in the 1940s:

"I loved boxing, ever since my grandfather showed me a picture of Joe Louis and said, 'Here's a man who can beat anyone in the world.' That made such an impression on me, that someone could be so strong he could beat anyone in the world. I like people with physical and emotional strength, and that's how I learned to love boxing. I learned to look at it and see the art about it."

On art:

"Sometimes you look at art and you think, 'Well, that's the ugliest thing I've ever seen.' But then I say, 'Let me take another look. This is a young man's work. He's not going to see things the same way you do, Leah.' You see something you don't like, whether it's art or a person, well, change the way to look at it. You do that and you're going to see something different. That's what I learned from art and learned about life."

On rebuilding:

"I know I'm crazy, but it never crossed my mind I wouldn't do it again after Katrina. I was so flattered that people would step up to help us. When you get that kind of support, when people are that confident in you, you better show them that they weren't wrong."

On artist Gustave Blache's exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art:

"I told him, 'You had a paintbrush in your hand — you could have knocked off half of my rear end. You could have made me look like Halle Berry.' But it's good because, if they show me working — well, what is wrong with work?"

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