In the Community + Hiding in Plain Sight: Must-See Murals, Central City, Part 1

This week in Hiding in Plain Sight, we’re exploring the streets and street art of Central City. Central City and Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard (OCH) are both essential cultural icons of New Orleans. OCH, in the late 19th and 20th, centuries was a center of rapid commercial growth and was home to a diverse population, and during the 1960’s, Central City jump-started the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans. OCH and Central City in recent years have seen a resurgence post-Katrina, supported by cultural institutions, new businesses and street art. This is the second part to our ongoing series that guides you on a tour of New Orleans’s best murals, neighborhood by neighborhood.
“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it,” Farris Bueller, Farris Bueller’s Day Off.

“One More Time” by Monica Rose Kelly

Location: 2200 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

The legacy of Mardi Gras Indian chief Theodore Emile “Bo” Dollis, Sr and his revolutionary work as a culture bearer in New Orleans has been celebrated through music, costuming and now as a vibrant mural on Oretha Castle Haley.

Artist Monica Rose Kelly was commissioned to create a mural. She knew the best way to celebrate the rich history of the neighborhood would be by honoring the late Big Chief Bo Dollis, Sr. of the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians.

As you drive by, you can’t help but notice the smile of Dollis, Sr. and the face in the beadwork of Bo’s headdress representing his successor, son Bo Dollis, Jr. If you stop and look around, you’ll see feather and magnolia flowers sprawling the length of the building.

Bonus* There is a third secret mural on the upstairs deck, that can be spotted from the street on OCH.

Ashe Visual Artists Guild

Location: Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard at Eurterpe Street

As part of the Ashe Visual Artists Guild, this mural was a large collaboration sponsored by the Mayor’s Division of Economic Development. If you look closely, you’ll find local icons like Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson. Coordinated by Douglas Redd, the mural was created by local artists including: Shakor, Bryan Brown, Swan, Jessica Legeaux, Jamar Pierre, Terrance Osborne, Lidya Araya, Lionel Milton, and Ivan Watkins.

You can find it right next to the Ashe Cultural Center. Take your time following the different personalities showcased within the scene.   

Magnolia Marketplace Walls by Yaya, Rontherin Ratliff, Bmike, and Ellen Macomber

Location: 2900 S. Claiborne Avenue

Magnolia Marketplace, located off Claiborne, officially opened in March of 2011. Following Katrina, Magnolia Marketplace was one of the first shopping centers within the city to bring back large customer based department stores, housing companies like TJ Maxx, PetSmart, and Ulta. With the center’s opening, NOLA street artists Yaya, Rontherin Ratliff, Brandon “Bmike” Odums, and Ellen Macomber collaborated on a 110-foot wall along Toledano Street dedicated to the history of Central City.

Paradigm Gardens

Location: Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard at Clio Street

Paradigm Gardens boasts an impressive redevelopment lot with blossoming homegrown vegetables, complimented by both a mural and stunning mosaic. The redevelopment project is being led and sponsored by the Felicity Redevelopment Company, a non-profit cooperation that operates a revolving fund to purchase, stabilize, and resell blighted properties in the neighborhood. The urban garden supplies organic produce for local restaurants like Coquette, Meauxbar, and Patois.

Various Artists for the “Survive” Exhibition

Location: Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard at Erato Street

If you don’t take the time to look at some of Central City’s lush lots, you’ll miss optical illusions found in murals like this one. In 2013, New Orleans was the debut location of the traveling exhibition, SURVIVE, featuring a conceptually coherent and significant, original body of work by L.A. based emerging artists of the LTS & KOG crews: ARBE, DREYE, FISHE, KYLE THOMAS, NATHAN SMITH, SINER, and ZES. The mission of the exhibition was to engage in dialog about the transformative power of art. If you find yourself driving down OC Haley, stop by and look around.

Brown’s Dairy by Evan Watkins

Location: Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at Carondelet Street

You can’t miss the Brown’s Dairy Factory if you are driving down Robert C. Blakes Sr. Drive in Central City. The plant has been open in New Orleans since 1960, and the outskirts of their development showcase a string of murals that highlight both the plant’s history and the street’s namesake, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After more than 50 years in business at this location, the factory is slated to close and move operations to the Northshore. Here’s hoping the murals will remain as an everlasting memorial.

Various Artists for the “Survive” Exhibition

Location: Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, between Clio & Erato Streets

As mentioned before the SURVIVE exhibition set up shop in New Orleans. Attendees were invited to the show of emerging artists in formerly abandoned and vacant buildings, where the ‘pop-up’ galleries and environments reinforced the message: SURVIVE. 

Ashe Cultural Arts Diaspora Boutique

Location: Felicity Street at Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

The Ashe Cultural Arts Center is an organization that creates and supports programs, activities, and creative works emphasizing the contributions of people of African descent, and is the home of a beautiful cultural mural on the side of their building on Felicity Street that features prominent people an moments in New Orleans’s history.

Casa Borrega

Location: 1719 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

Casa Borrega was born from the mutual passion for Mexican cuisine shared by its two owners, Hugo, an artist from Mexico City, and Linda, an environmentalist from San Francisco. The building was in as state of disrepair when Hugo and Linda purchased it in 2008. It was rebuilt using as many existing features as possible, while adding salvaged elements from buildings in New Orleans, Texas and Mexico. Stop by Casa Borrega on the end of your Central City tour for authentic Mexican Food and and equally tantalizing mural by the building’s carpenter, Ricardo Ponce, showcased on the side of its building. Don’t forget to take a glance at the mural on their personalized food truck as well! 

What’s your favorite New Orleans Street Art? Did we miss any of your favorites?

Every Sunday, we’ll be posting murals and public art around town to our Instagram.

Take a picture, tag @WhereYart and use #NOLAmurals to let us know where your favorite murals and we’ll feature your selection.