Artists and activists come together for the Wetlands Art Tour

Mock wedding between the state of Louisiana and Big OilLast May 10th, we hosted our first annual Wetlands Art Tour in the St. Claude arts district of New Orleans in partnership with John Calhoun of The Goodnight Show. The Art Tour was a full day of performances, exhibits, and activist efforts concentrated on the critical environmental crisis of coastal land loss in Louisiana.The day began bright and early with a group bicycle ride to Bayou Bienvenue, the body of water that divides Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes. The bike tour ended with a marsh grass planting and kayak tour around the bayou, which sparked a fantastic dialogue about wetlands issues.The day continued with an amazing line-up of speakers at the Marigny Opera House that included local environmental activists Monique Verdin, Mark Davis, John Barry, and GRN’s Coastal Wetland Specialist, Scott Eustis. The speakers provided a breadth of perspectives on wetlands loss, the destructive role of oil and gas activity, and what we can do now to advocate for coastal restoration. After the speaker panel, Verdin screened her documentary, My Louisiana Love, at Café Istanbul followed by a talk back.John Barry at the Marigny Opera HouseJohn Barry at the Marigny Opera HouseAs the sun set, over 75 local artists in 20 galleries exhibited their work. The Art Tour was extraordinary in that it hosted art and performance of nearly every possible medium – painting, theater, dance, music, film, puppetry, photography, poetry, and even a second line – all of which focused on wetlands loss and restoration issues in coastal Louisiana. GRN hosted the headquarters of the Art Tour at Clouet Gardens in the Bywater neighborhood, where we enjoyed a series of fantastic performances, including a set by singer-songwriter Sarah Quintana, a dance by Odile Del Giudice, and a round of singing and dancing with Cry You One.Cry You One at Clouet GardensCry You One at Clouet GardensOne of the highlights was a mock wedding, or “the unholy union” of the state of Louisiana (“Evangeline” ) and Big Oil (“Earl” ). This demonstration, which ended in a lively second line, was a hilarious satire on the status of oil and gas concerns in Louisiana, but it also spoke harsh volumes about the political maneuvers that are currently playing out in the state legislature, which have the dangerous potential of allowing industry to supersede our environment and communities. In this way, the mock wedding served as a symbol for the Wetlands Art Tour as a whole, as it merged artistic and cultural expression with vital environmental discourse on the future of coastal Louisiana. Check out our Flickr set for photos from Saturday’s performances.Many thanks to all of the participating artists, organizations, venue hosts and speakers, and everyone who joined us!Sarah Holtz is GRN’s Development Associate.

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