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An Entrance Ticket into a Taste of Art

Zhu Ziqing traveled far off to France and said the following: "Almost all Parisians have an elegant bone or two in them." It would seem that French people's emotions are rooted deep in their bones and come from within. However, there is a place that is full of that French romantic ambiance and yet lies not within her borders. That place is the Frenchmen Art Market in New Orleans, USA.

The Past

If you want to know where this rich French romanticism comes from, you must first look back at the history of New Orleans. New Orleans was originally a French colony. Back then many French colonists migrated to the new world looking for a share of the action.

An Entrance

The residents of New Orleans today are the offspring of those French immigrants and African and Asian Americans. Moreover, the cheap rent there saw a large influx of artists. The French romanticism here, thus, never dissipated and developed unbridled in the atmosphere of American freedom, creating the vibrant city that it is today.

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The art market is located in the French sector where French descendants gathered. It was the influx of artists into this area that allows this market to display so many extraordinary art products. Every work of art in the market is handmade locally and any single piece is steeped in thought and soul.

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Painting

People often think that people who sell paintings in markets are down and out young artists, but that is not the story here.

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Born in 1956, Rhy is one of the artists in the market as well as being the granddaughter of Floyd MacMillan Davis. That is correct, the Floyd MacMillan Davis who was dubbed as "America’s number one illustrator" by America's Life Magazine. Like her grandfather, Rhy has an inherent talent for painting. She has an emotional attachment with New Orleans that makes it difficult for her to leave. It was here that she got in touch with the father she had never met, and here that they spent the last 20 years of her father's life together. When she returned, she decided to settle down here and fell in love with pencil and ink painting. According to her, this is the best place to retain a freshness to her paintings.

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Many of Rhy's previous paintings have been published and all of the work she produces today depicts the music clubs that dot the streets of New Orleans. While the lighting in these clubs is dim, it is just enough for her to transfer those feelings and the scenes into her sketch book. She uses a pencil to sketch a rudimentary image and then an ink pen to depict the contours. In some paintings she will add water colors at a later stage. These paintings offer a glimpse of New Orleans' night life through her eyes

There are too many appealing things to draw one's attention, while so often the most essential things are overlooked. However, Ben Markus, a painter in the market, is trying his best to get across what he sees as the most authentic side of things via his paintings.

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Ben graduated from Germany's Leipzig University, where Goethe and Nietzsche had both studied. Coincidently, his major there also involved philosophy, which is probably why he always likes to simplify objects, and uses the least colors and most simplistic forms possible to express his paintings. At the same time, he is also devoted to creating a kind of static vision, which means his paintings not only show his ideas on real-life objects, but also reveal a tranquil quality.

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Handicrafts

Aside from paintings, the market boasts a great deal of local artists' handicrafts, which range from jewelry, clothing and furniture; mere ordinary objects that have a unique quality.

Uruz is a producer of artwork and jewelry, but he prefers to be known as a "seasoned craftsman". He likes things with a three-dimensional feeling and loves hammering out marks in metal. He believes it is these marks that give each piece its unique nature.

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Most of his jewelry is metal, but by working the metal for years, Uruz's necklaces become so light that wearers are not even aware they are wearing them. Many different colors appear randomly on Uruz's jewelry and artwork. Every grain on top also has to be continuously experimented on and adjusted, sometimes over 100 times until Uruz gets the affect he desires. But he never gave up. For a long time he stumbled along this unique road until he finally figured out the secret to success and had formed his own style.

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The painter Ben is not the only Ben in the art market. There is another Ben, a craftsman, who devotes his efforts to making cups.

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In 2003, glass came into Ben Dombey's life. He remembers later how it was like an unexplainable calling that instilled an unprecedented enthusiasm for producing glasswork into him. To improve his production of glasses, Ben completed a glass production major at university and got a bachelor's degree and masters in the arts. However, he did not think this was enough, so he traveled the world learning from and working with the best masters in the trade. Having returned to New Orleans, he has now been communicating with the medium for over 10 years and has penetrated the mysteries of glass’s many transformations. You can feel the texture of his glasses when you hold them in your hands and this experience is even weightier and more satisfying when placed between your lips. As Ben says, handmade glasses enhance the joy of drinking.

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Sometimes all these works of art are like life: they seem ordinary and simple, but are born out of the complex minds of the artists that make them and their struggles. Therefore, someone really wanting to understand a work of art will choose to try and understand the artist that created them and the best way to do that is to speak with them. This is the true significance of the Frenchmen Art Market. It gathers local artists and allows strangers to go on a journey of appreciating one another.

Address: 2231 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana

Destination: New Orleans, USA

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