Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Orleans, Like a Surragete Mother

New Orleans, New Orleans
By Lisa M. Cliff

The heart of New Orleans cool bluesy and jazz
Daiquiris & Hurricanes, soul poured in a glass
It is beauty, art and steadfast perseverance
The spiritual & mystical running interference
Keeping the city alive blooming with promise
Beaming with pride, fleur di lis and a Praline kiss
New Orleans heart of jazz, red beans and Creole
Home of sinners and saints; music’s heart and soul
New Orleans, New Orleans a home like no other
Healing and forgiving like a surrogate mother

I recently had the opportunity to visit New Orleans again. I was there back in July for the Essence festival. While there I made contact with the "One Sun Gallery", I currently have 4 paintings there. The One Sun gallery is situated right in the French Quarter, 616 Royal St, a block over from Bourbon St. Please stop by if you are ver in New Orleans to see my work and say "Heeeeyyy Beeeebeee" (as they lovingly say in New Orleans) to Joesph the owner and curator.

To read the complete poem please go to my Face Book page, Blind Faith Fine Art and Poetry and see the rest of poem as well as seeing pictures taken in New Orleans.
Any way I was there early March for a wedding and while there saw it as a opportunity to seek out book stores in the area to feature my book, "An Umbrella in Case of Rain". When I got there, the first thing I did was pick up a copy of "New Orleans Black Pages, a monthly publication featuring black business and is on point. It did not fail to deliver! In fact by God's grace, a wonderful book store owner graced March's cover, Vera Warner- Williams of "The Community Book Center." As soon as I saw I made a mental note that her store would definitely be a destination stop for me. The article on her and her book store talked about how involved she is in the community and how if you're lucky, a simple errand to the bookstore may turn into finding yourself sharing a cup of gumbo with new friends. Well it did, but I will talk about that later. Back to the "Black Pages" by editor Glynn John Reeds another wonderful sister that I recently met. Anyway, every black product or service was featured in this little book from the best soul food breakfast to entertainment to finding a good orthodontist. If you ever visit NOLA, please pick up a copy and make it a point to "buy black". The city is recovering and the French Quarter is boomin again but black business in that area (like many urban cities) need your help. For instance the "One Sun Gallery" features mostly black artists, it is one of the only galleries in the French quarter to feature black inspired art. We need to support this important business and this brother.

Ok after spending my first afternoon at the One Sun Gallery, Joseph, the owner and I went to a book signing in a wonderful historical building right outside the French Quarter. It was a fabulous Southern mansion in true New Orleans style with beautiful white beams framing a welcoming front porch with decorative iron awnings. As soon as we walked into the reception, who sat there but Vera, the Community Book Store owner, I only met her briefly but made a mental intention to go find the store in the morning and get my book placed there. The reception was very nice and featured an African Brother regaling stories of his beloved country. Upstairs featured the most profound historical art, featuring scenes from the French invasion from a Black artist perspective.

The next morning after getting lost a few times, I finally found "The Community Bookstore". I walked in on a Saturday morning to find the owner, Vera Bradly and her manager, "Mama Jean" having breakfast with about a dozen international exchange students; they had helped to paint a lovely mural across the wall. In the spirit of true Southern hospitality they invited me to join them  for a wonderful impromptu breakfast that had been prepared by the students. A New Orleans style breakfast fit for a king, smoked sausage with onions, scrambled eggs with green and red peppers and cheese and fresh beignets. It was delicious and I was starving, thanking God for my good fortune and I was also able to get my book "An Umbrella in Case of Rain" placed in the store. See, this is what I am talking about when you follow your heart with intention by walking by faith not by sight and you support the community, the community supports you.  It is the law of reciprocity.
That evening I attending the wedding and it was beautiful and the bride and groom were glowing however, toward the end they asked everyone to come out to a courtyard for a surprise; it was a full 6 piece band, with horns and drums; they handed out beads and umbrellas and the entire wedding party, (probably about 50 folks) marched around the French Quarter to traditional zydeco jazz music in celebration of the wedding and of the new beginnings. Sometimes this same tradition is used for funerals also a celebration of life and a new beginning. It was wonderful!

On the last day of my trip I was able to meet another warm and spiritual sister that welcomed me into her home gallery in spite of her not feeling well, Ms Sandra Berry of the Neighborhood Gallery. This meeting was so inspiring and uplifting; Sandra and her opera singing husband Joshua (I can't make this stuff up) were just a joy to talk with. They have worked tirelessly over the years to promote and advocate for artists of color in the New Orleans area. We sat talking about art and they shared stories about Katrina and how they barely made it out; I felt blessed to share my book with them. I believe I made friends for life that day and also we realized we had a mutual friend in Columbus, Judy Dixon another wonderful artist and purse designer. We called her immediately to say hello to her and she was Washington DC for a conference.

 I have a line in one of my poems called "Life is a Continuum of Opportunity" I refer to the proverbial 6 degrees of separation and how meetings we sometime call random are not random at all. I believe they are serendipitous  occurrings that are staged by the Divine Himself. There are no accidence! Judy called me a few days later to tell me she saw my work in DC at "B Smith" restaurant, which was also extremely affirming for me that as an artist my work is becoming recognizable and to also show me that we are all connected. I heard such coincidences referred to as "God Winks," well my trip to NOLA certainly was. 

You see when the day is done, it truly is about my God given gift, my work, my purpose. It is using my gifts to reach and touch people through my images and my words. It is using my every experience to produce great works. My trip to was another stepping stone on my journey toward my purpose; I continue to be a humble example of God's grace and spreading His good news.  Here are a few lines from the poem "Life is a Continuum of Opportunity" featured in my book "An Umbrella in Case of Rain"

There is a divine plan orchestrated by a deity of three
A universal truth;
life is a complicated
series of litmus tests
No matter how trivial
they may seem on the surface
Test runs in order to achieve
true greatness

Thank you for visiting this blog which I consider my online journal;  a further glimpse beyond the paintings into the heart and journey of this artist. Again, please support me with a purchase of my book which makes a perfect Mothers Day gift or order a print at
and  and also become a Facebook Friend of "Blind Faith Fine Art" and SHARE with friends and family.  You are also welcome to comment on this blog or share a "God Wink" with us. 

I will also have a book signing on May 11 at the William H. Thomas Gallery on Columbus OH's Eastside, 1270 Bryden Rd form 6 to 8:30pm. Hope to see you there!