Monday, September 29, 2008

I Have The Mango

Some local illustration

My third week in New Orleans is underway. The first two weeks have been fairly quiet. There hasn't been an excess of activity yet, which has been good. Plenty of time to enjoy the city and think through whatever it might mean to live here.

Meeting people has been enjoyable, and interesting... One day I met a neighbor. He asked me how I spelled my name. "With a PH," I answered. "Oh! Just like my best friend!" he exclaimed. After a few minutes of conversation he started back toward his porch and said, "Nice to meet you Kevin." Two days later he met me for the first time again, and so I went along with it. "Nice to meet you too."

There is no shortage of interesting characters in the area, and even after two weeks I've seen several people around the city more than once. One of my favorites is Mr. Okra, who drives around in his marvelously decorated truck announcing his fare on a speaker "I have squash, I have watermelon, I have the Mango..."

My neighborhood is a healthy place to contemplate cultural engagement. Everyone is a culture-maker in some way. Basically, as Andy Crouch explains, culture making includes any activity that alters the horizons of the possible for a given group of people. Our neighborhood is populated by many who are relatively materially poor. But even more than that, many of the same people are poor in another sense - they have been convinced that they are incapable of the essentially human task - expanding the horizons of the possible.

For now, I am working on some design projects, leading art activities with kids after school, and working on renovating our church building. Drawings coming soon!

Tributes to St. Roch, the patron saint of miraculous healing.

A fresh one by Banksy, on the 3rd Anniversary of Katrina.

My caricature of Pastor J.B.

From where I sit, with Turkey, Brie, & Apple on Baguette at the Sound Cafe on Chartres.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Founder

So, that dang hurricane changed my moving plans, and I've had a little time to spend here in limbo. Without assignments or jobs, things can get boring - or weird. Two nights ago, I was flipping through a book of founding fathers that my dear friends Kirk and Sarah got me at the National Portrait Gallery this summer. Anyway, since Kirk is a kind of founder in my life, it was decided that he should be painted 18th century style, after Joseph Siffred Duplessis' rendition of Franklin.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Summer Reads

This was most of my summer reading this year:

-Prince Caspian C.S. Lewis
-Come Help Change the World Bill Bright
Campus Crusade for Christ's founder telling the story of the organization
-A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future Daniel Pink
Highly recommended reading for creatives or those seeking to understand them
-Walt Disney: An American Original Bob Thomas
-Gilead Marilynne Robinson
Pulitzer winning novel - a letter from a father to a son. Sure to be read again.
-The Reason for God: Belief in An Age of Skepticism Tim Keller
Addresses arguments against belief in a concise yet conversational tone
-Mr. Adams's Last Crusade Joseph Wheelan
Explores the fascinating post-presidential life of John Qunicy Adams
-Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams Lynne Whithey
Detailed biography of a tireless patriot, mother, and wife.
-Return Flight Bob Lupton
Community Development Through Reneighboring Our Cities
-Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Call Andy Crouch

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Next Step - New Orleans

This is the community in New Orleans where I'll be moving very soon. I'm going to be spending the next year or so with as an Artist in Residence with St. Roch Community Church. My thoughts and emotions have been very mixed today. I've just moved away from my best friends, and I watched today as the place I'm moving toward easily could have been washed away.

The coming weeks are sure to be challenging, but I am excited about living in a neighborhood. Growing up in rural South Carolina and spending summers in Midtown Manhattan revealed two extremes, but neither provided me with the complexity of a neighborhood. College gave me a better idea, as we were very involved in each others' lives, but still the population was largely one demographic. This time, I'll see what it is like to be involved in the lives of neighbors from different backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, races, and ages. An exciting prospect indeed.