Whether it’s Fellini films or pizza, Italian culture has always had a certain pull for us in the States. When we think of Italy, we think of aesthetic elegance, romance, and a laid-back, joyful way of life. Or maybe that’s just what the Italophiles like me, who’ve been taken in by the genius melodrama of a Verdi opera, or the sublime flavor balance of good pistachio gelato, think. We are the type of people who wonder if you can spend a whole weekend exploring Italian-influenced art, architecture, music, and food — practically pretending to be on vacation in Italy — in an American city. After all, we crave the enchantment of Italian culture, and we’d like to find it closer to home, in places we can explore without dealing with customs and international flights.
Inspired by the recent arrival of the FIAT 500 on American shores, Flavorwire sent me to Miami, New Orleans, and San Francisco to find out if it was possible to recreate Italian grandeur right here stateside. In these cities where you might not expect to pull off a weekend jaunt all’Italiana, I discovered a surprising number of spots that retained their local flavor while staying true to the Italian spirit. Click through to explore the second of my three action-packed weekend itineraries that will show you where to find the magic of Italy without having to cross the Atlantic.
… Read More
As people along the East Coast continue to reel from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, people all across the country are reaching out with words of support. But who better to offer advice and messages of hope from those who have been there? To that end, NYC-based journalist Andy Kopsa has put together this wonderful Tumblr, NOLA to New York, where he posts photos of Hurricane Katrina survivors holding up letters of encouragement for everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. The result is truly wonderful, an inspiring, heartfelt message from one community to another. We’ve posted a few of our favorite photos below, but be sure to head over to the website to see them all.
… Read More
Before Storyville of New Orleans shut down in 1917, it was the only legalized red-light district in North America, and French photographer John Ernest Joseph Bellocq took portraits inside of these storied brothels. The sensual, almost haunting shots were incredibly revealing and varied, from the naughty maiden posed playfully on a sofa wearing nothing but a Zorro mask to the awkward poses of the hesitant sitters, the clutching of their hands, the downward, escaping gazes. In an introduction to his collection Bellocq: New Orleans Photographs, Susan Sontag referred to the photographer’s perspective as an “anti-formulaic, anti-salacious sympathy for ‘fallen’ women.” Visit them in our gallery and decide for yourself.
With his prints and negatives destroyed and miraculously recovered after his death, the photographer (inaccurately portrayed in the film Pretty Baby) also took shots in the opium dens of New Orleans’s Chinatown, but those were tragically never found. Alas! Can you imagine?
… Read More
This August marks five years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. The damage that the storm and its attendant flooding wrought on the city — both physically and psychologically — is slowly being repaired. The Louisiana Superdome, the focus of international horror during the aftermath of the storm, became once again a place of triumph this year, when the Saints won the Super Bowl for their hometown. And in the Lower 9th Ward, where over 4,000 homes were destroyed, new, inspired and sustainable homes are rising from the wreckage.
Brad Pitt founded the Make It Right foundation to help provide the Lower 9th with 150 affordable and storm-protected dwellings. So far, 50 homes are completed and another 25 are on the way, along with a handful of “micro-farms” and community centers. There’s a lot more to do to revive the community, but Pitt’s efforts have earned him nods from urban planners, as well as a grassroots campaign that encouraged him to make a mayoral bid. After the jump: a gallery of the Lower 9th Ward, five years later.
… Read More
Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans chronicles the inspiration and production behind the artist’s 2007 theatrical experiment of the same name, through original artwork, interviews, and extensive photo-documentation.
The publication, released by Creative Time, offers insight into the imagination of a young artist, moved by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to re-conceptualize Samuel Beckett’s seminal work of absurdist theatre as a site-specific project, set amid the wasteland of watching and waiting that the devastated city had become.
… Read More
As an architecture buff, and one with an academic interest in the somewhat underrated field of vernacular architecture, I’ve been following the “Brad Pitt saves New Orleans” story with a healthy dose of skepticism. Yes, anyone using his celebrity and monetary largesse for a good cause is to be commended, and yes, I’m kind of psyched that Brad Pitt is into architecture and not just wine, women, and song. But a Hollywood celebrity swooping in to impose a clearly modern taste onto an area known for its historic domestic architecture, a building tradition termed the “shotgun” house which traces its roots to Haiti and West Africa? Like I said, I’m dubious. And so is preservationist Clem Labine, writing about the issue for The CIVITAS Chronicles. Read… Read More
Andrew Bird, Tom Waits, Jim James, Paolo Nutini, and Ani DiFranco are among the diverse artists who joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans for this album benefiting the group’s time-honored home.
Proceeds from the project — which finds its cast of legendary and contemporary musicians tackling New Orleans classics — go toward Preservation Hall’s music-outreach program and upkeep. Also among the contributors are such established forces as Richie Havens, Dr. John, Pete Seeger, and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
… Read More
A tale in 13 tweets: the head honchos of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Museum of Art have reached an agreement in a high stakes art exchange based on the outcome of the Superbowl. Both museums responded to a dare by art writer Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes, who suggested that the losing city loan out a work of art from its permanent collection to the victor. IMA director Max Anderson (on behalf of the Colts) and NOMA director E. John Bullard (wagering for the Saints) shaped the terms of the bet over email, blog posts, and Twitter, which makes for an entertaining — see also: transparent, accessible — dialogue between two higher institutions of art. The paintings in question, after the… Read More