New Orleans has even more to offer a traveler than its world-class jazz and food – one thing visitors often overlook is the thriving arts and crafts scene. The Crescent City is a melting pot of Creole, Spanish, Cajun, French, and many other cultures, evident in its inspired paintings, sculptures, and assemblage artwork. The great thing is that you can take home your own piece of NOLA culture with artwork that can be found everywhere from open-air markets to galleries.
Historic Jackson Square is lined with original arts and crafts, from oil paintings on reclaimed wood to caricatures of passers-by. Some of New Orleans’ prominent artists got their start in Jackson Square and so your purchase is likely to come with a story. Pick up one of Cassie Tarr‘s assemblage pieces, like a whimsical owl with eyes made from red vinyl records, or one of Jeremy Hebert‘s vibrant works of art painted on salvaged windows found around the city. The artwork is reasonably priced and you can bargain for an additional discount. Jackson Square opens at 8 am and some artwork is usually exhibited on the gates around the square by then.
Julia Street Strolls
The modern-art epicenter of New Orleans arts is the Julia Street arts district – a prime destination to browse some of the most cutting-edge artwork in the city. Check out Jonathan Ferrara Gallery for vibrant contemporary artists working across all mediums. Stroll Julia Street on the New Orleans Arts District’s First Saturday Gallery Openings starting at 6 pm, and sip wine and socialize while you shop.
Royal Street Art And Wine Walks
Royal Street is the granddaddy of New Orleans shopping districts, with fine arts and crafts destinations like the Angela King Gallery, which includes the works of the legendary pop artist Peter Max. You can also check out vibrant local artists in their own galleries, including the naturalist assemblage work of Chris Roberts-Antieau and David Harouni‘s gallery full of regal oil paintings. Soak in block after block of artwork (including George Rodrigue‘s iconic Blue Dog) every spring on the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience Royal Street Stroll kicking off at 5:30 pm. Galleries also put out generous spreads for noshing and, of course, wine.
French Market Finds
The French Market is an open-air funky mixed bag, where you’re likely to find African sculpture booths next to a t-shirt vendor. Open from 10 am to 6 pm daily, there’s something for everyone in the flea market, from jade elephants to black-and-white photography. Prices are wallet-friendly, but you can bargain for an additional break.
New Orleans Artist Collective
Across from the French Market, check out local arts and crafts collective the Artist’s Market and Bead Shop on Decatur Street, also open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Blown glass, eye-catching jewelry, and iconic New Orleans ceramic street signs are all on display, so you can take a little bit of NOLA home with you. Most artists are willing to ship, so you won’t have to walk through Armstrong Airport lugging something the size of a street sign.
Frenchmen Street Art Market
Frenchmen Street is the newest arts and crafts district in New Orleans, and the Palace Market offers handmade New Orleans artwork including exquisite jewelry and sculptures, as well as interactive exhibits with the artists on hand. Full of ambiance, it’s one of the only night-shopping experiences in the world where you’re likely to hear a brass band marching by. The market kicks off at 7 pm every night and on Saturdays it’s also open from 1–5 pm for those who prefer shopping during the day.
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