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Blake Pontchartrain: What’s up with the flags on the Mid-City neutral ground?

An installation by sculptor Michael Manjarris commemorates the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina


Hey Blake,

On the neutral ground at Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway are dozens of flags. They are mounted on wooden T-posts and are all different. Will it be a permanent installation and what do they represent?

Tara Schellings

Dear Tara,

  That unique outdoor art has caught many people's eyes since it went up in August to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures. The collaborative installation, called Flag, is the brainchild of Texas sculptor Michael Manjarris. He has done much to beautify the city since the storm, leading a project to install several pieces of eye-catching sculpture in the Central Business District.

  His Mid-City project was inspired by a similar art installation in New York's Central Park in 2005. The New Orleans version features 26 wooden poles, each 8 feet tall and displaying two 7-foot banners. Each of the banners is designed and painted by a local artist. Some are professionals, but many are young people participating in arts programs organized by YAYA, L9 Center for the Arts and the Ashe Cultural Arts Center. While some of the banners carry Katrina-related themes, others feature abstract designs. The plan is for the installation to be on display for a year. The artwork will be changed throughout that time, and then the flags will be auctioned for charity.

  The Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard Merchants & Business Association is sponsoring a contest for artists to submit banner designs for a display in that neighborhood. The deadline is Dec. 11; visit for details.

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