No news is good news for White Linen Night. In the two years since Hurricane Katrina, the downtown arts district has survived largely in tact, and Saturday's (Aug. 4) festivities should look like White Linens of years past with thousands of patrons strolling Julia Street's blocks of food and drink booths, stages of live music and galleries opening their doors with new exhibitions (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.).
"It works the way we've had it for the last few years, so we don't want to take steps to really change it," says Steve Martin, gallery owner and current president of the New Orleans Arts District Association (NOADA), which co-sponsors the event with the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) and Whitney Bank.
Just like the guests who show up looking their best, the nearly 20 participating galleries put on fresh new shows, creating a much-anticipated annual event for locals and gallery owners alike.
"It's a lot of traffic through the door, which is always good," says Leslie Spillman, director of the Soren Christensen gallery. "It's a nice event to have in the street with all of the galleries together."
The openings extend to galleries off the main thoroughfare of the central Arts District as well. Stella Jones Gallery (201 St. Charles Ave., 568-9050) will debut shows by three artists, and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield will entertain. Just above Lee Circle, the Big Top Gallery (1610 Clio St., 569-2700) will host a reception and a new show featuring photographs by Zack Smith.
"The city has gone through so much, and people are looking for something to do, since a lot of the stuff they used to do isn't there anymore," Martin says. "We've noticed an increase in attendance to these special events, because they're positive."
Locals are still seeking some positivity, even if it is just for a night.
"It's a reoccurring event that they can go to and have fun and forget about re-building their house for one night," Martin says.
Although the district lost a couple of galleries following the storm, a few existing ones have moved to more high profile spaces. Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (400A Julia St., 522-5471) moved from its post-storm second-floor space on Carondelet Street onto Julia Street.
Along with cash bars, this year's event will feature food from Byblos, Nirvana Indian Cuisine, Sun Ray Grill, Reginelli' s and La Divina Gelateria. Immediately following the outdoor celebration, the CAC will host an after party that will include cuisine from Table One Restaurant and music by Big Sam's Funky Nation.
The NOADA created White Linen Night in 1994 to combat the summer slump that galleries often face. Because seersucker and linen is the unofficial summertime uniform for many New Orleanians, it seemed only natural to encourage guests to sport their best white linen attire.
- Soren Christensen Gallery features paintings by Paula Landrem.
- The group show at d.o.c.s. Gallery includes Chic Connell's Pop Star.
- The Ogden Museum of Southern Art opens a show of Hunt Slonem's work.
- Arthur Roger Gallery presents glass artist Gene Koss.
- Gallery Bienvenu unveils an installation by Sally Heller.