Femme Fatale Friday: Becky Fos

Becky and her art as featured in Borgne Restaurant.

Becky and her art as featured in Borgne Restaurant.

 

I first became aware of Becky Fos’s art on Twitter when she followed our page and her avatar caught my eye.  I clicked on through to her website and was blown away by her vibrant, colorful paintings.(She’s also on FaceBook.) I had to know more and she was gracious enough to consent to an interview. Enjoy!

First, tell us a little about yourself.

I am Texan born, a former Austinitte!  So, to some that would explain my sometimes “weird” clothes.  The city’s motto has been, “Keep Austin weird” for as long as I’ve known it.  I moved to New Orleans in 2002 and never once regretted it.  New Orleans, with it’s heritage, history and culture have completely molded me into the person I am today.  I could never imagine myself being anywhere else.  One of my favorite songs growing up was by Fats Domino, “Walking to New Orleans” and now it all makes perfect sense.

How long have you been painting?

I have been painting my whole life, for as long as I can possibly remember.  I painted on the walls of my room growing up, doodled on notebook paper in school, and now canvas.  My favorite times painting are when my son, Jude (age 6) and I set up shop in the kitchen and go to town!!!

Tell us about the materials and techniques you use.

I like to paint on canvas with pallet knives.  I like to use a lot of paint to create texture and I love color.  SOmetimes I’ve been told that I use too much color, but that’s just me.  And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Tell us a bit about your creative process. Do you start a project with a
beginning, middle and ending in mind or does it evolve as you go?

I begin with a thought or a dream.  Or sometimes a person.  I’ve been inspired by going to concerts around the city and seeing the musician up close deeply inspires me and I must create.  I see the passion on their face while creating their art, and this inspires me.  I love to capture the magic that I’ve witnessed first-hand and that’s how it starts.  So, I have a jumping off point and then it actually evolves.  I paint backwards actually because I paint the focal point first and not the background.  I know everybody is different, but that’s how I start.  SOmetimes I change the background several times.

Is art your full-time occupation?

Yes, my art is a full-time gig for me.  I also do some of the chalk art at Chef, John Besh’s Restaurant, Borgne along with the amazing, Lance Romano.

What is your earliest recollection of art as a passion?

I’ve always loved art.  I was always drawn to things sparkly and colorful.  My mom use to call me her “crow” because a crow will always seem to find that burry treasure of sparkleness.  My passion only grows.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I feel so bad about saying who my favorite artists are because I have so many friends who are artists.  But just to name a few, Keith Eccles and Terrance Osborne since they have both guided me on this path.  Bansky, Bruni and Van Gogh of course.

If you find yourself losing interest in a project do you push yourself to finish or set it aside for later? Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing a project?

Not all projects that we start do we stay 100% motivated throughout.  There are actually a few pieces that I’ll be working on at a time.  Sometimes I just have to put one down and walk away, especially when I’m feeling not motivated.  Then I start to feel defeated so it actually motivates me to go back and finish.  It’s these pieces that actually come out the absolute best and I never want to get rid of them and hold on to them.

Where in the city can we see your work?

Lozano & Barbuti Gallery at 313 Royal St in New Orleans carries my original artwork and I actually have a website that I sell my reproductions from: www.beckyfos.com

Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?

I have big goals that I’ve set for myself.  I like to aim high.  I plan on having my own art gallery in the french quarter right next to all the big dogs lol.  I’m aiming for the moon! :-)

 

Professor Longhair

Professor Longhair

Least Favorite Love Songs Kickstarter Campaign

Helen Krieger, of Flood Streets fame (and one of our Femme Fatales in 2011), is working on the second season of her webseries Least Favorite Love Songs. To raise a budget for the the show, she launched a Kickstarter campaign that’s winding down in the next five days. They’ve already made their minimum $5,000 goal, so now they’re stretching for an amount that will allow them to pay their crew just a lil something for their time and expertise.

They have low contributor levels ($1 and $5 backers get updates and swag!) and every little bit will help — maybe they’ll even be able to provide lunch to their crew on shooting days. :) Even if you can’t contribute, you’ll help them out enormously if you watch Season 1, talk about it and share the Kickstarter page with your friends. There’s also a Kickstarter Campaign Wrap Party this Sunday, at Banks St. Bar (4401 Banks Street), from 7 to 9. The suggested $5 donation gets you a screening of Season 1, music from ROARSHARK and some improv.

It should be noted that Least Favorite Love Songs has some strong adult themes, is very funny and includes partial nudity. Season 2 is likely to be funnier and perhaps even nuder. Nudier? How do you express that there may be more nudity? Well, how about you check out the short, funny, almost nude video for the campaign?

Femme Fatale Friday: Lorin Gaudin, Food Goddess

 Lorin Gaudin, aka NOLA Food Goddess, is indeed a Food Goddess Extraordinaire! She is  the Food Editor/Writer for Where Magazine New Orleans, does foodie podcasts for GoNOLA Radio and is a contributor for The New York Post and Culinary Consierge. She bakes weekly with Chef Lisa Barbato of Rivista, both of whom can be seen on Saturdays at the Crescent City Farmers’ Market and she’s also  runs a business, FiveOhFork,  where she crafts content for major food companies, restaurants and chefs. On top of that, she’ll soon be writing for the new CityEats New Orleans site owned by Food Network. I talked to Lorin recently to find out just exactly what makes a Food Goddess tick.

Lorin, I used to watch you almost every Friday night on Steppin’ Out where you were my favorite panelist because your love of food was so joyful and your passion for the subject reached out through the TV to me. Please fill me in on how and why food became your passion.

Thanks for those kind words! You’ve hit the nail on the head, I am a passionate foodie. Food and cooking have long been my soul-call, it’s the way I see the world – through taste, smell and color. Food is my art and expression, also my salve. Food and reading saved me in many ways. I suppose that’s why I’m such a cookbook fanatic.

You mention that you cook – not all foodies do. What is your specialty?

I love to cook French, American (traditional, contemporary and molecular), Asian and Middle Eastern.

What is your earliest food memory?

I remember my first bowl of cornflakes. I was very young and I can’t explain why or how I recall this, but I remember the rough and squishy feel of the flakes, the cool milk and the sweet milky-corn scent. Even today, if there is a box of cornflakes nearby, I can take a whiff and be transported to that first bowl. Yes, I know that’s odd, but that’s me. My family, going back several generations, are all artists and eaters – I’m hardwired.

Almost everyone has someone in their family who is legendary for their cooking. Mine is my paternal grandmother. Who is yours?

She was the woman I call the mother of my heart – her name was Annie and she was from Troy, Alabama. Annie and I cooked, danced and laughed together for 15 years. She taught me how to put together a great meal with balance, and how to time everything to come out together hot. My Aunt Lillian was legendary for her cheesecakes, kolachkes, and a long list of gorgeous baked goods. She was genius, and she knew she had a captive audience in me, so she’d make extras of everything, pack them in a bakery box tied with string and a note scribbled across the top, just for me. I loved both these wonderful, creative women.

Do you have any foodie “idols” or anyone who inspires you? Who are they and why?

Every cook inspires me in some way, but my one and only idol is Jeremiah Tower, period. When I was young, I watched him cook with love and passion and I adore his smarts and culinary sensibility. I made a pilgrimage to his restaurant Stars in San Francisco, the year it opened, and I was gobsmacked. Every detail from the restaurant design to the china to the food was done with thought and care. Gorgeous.

Do you have any favorite local restaurants that you’d like to share along with favorite dishes?

My favorite dish is always the one I’m currently eating and I don’t have a favorite restaurant. I do have a particular penchant for Asian food and cookery. I’m always on the hunt for great ethnic cuisine. I also have a serious thing for fine dining.

When did you first realize you wanted food to be integral in your professional life and how did you go about accomplishing that goal?

Actually, food writing came to me. In 1998 was approached by Gambit to write food features. The way that happened is kismet: A relative working in traffic at Gambit, called me to say that they were looking for a food feature writer and asked if I’d ever written anything on food. I lied and said “yes.” That night, I went home, wrote an 850 word article on Vietnamese eggroll, faxed it to the editor and was hired two days later. At the time, I was working as an Intelligence Analyst in Asset Seizure and Forfeiture for the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Unit. Yep, you read that right. Me and Julia Child – both of us started working for the government, then were consumed by food. I am NOT the cook she was, though I aspire to be.

Anyway, I was living a dual life working for IRS and food writing for Gambit. One of the Agents I worked with gave me a shove when he said, “What the f*$% are you doing here?”I thought long and hard about that…I left the IRS, kept writing for Gambit, was then picked up by Emeril to write for his blog, and from there it was crazy. I was hired by the group that produced New Orleans Magazine, etc. to write and be the “food editor.” Then came radio and television opportunities, and next thing I knew, I had a “career.” Weird.

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You can find Lorin on Twitter and FaceBook and don’t forget to say hi if you see her at the farmers market!

Femme Fatale Friday: Helen Krieger, Producer of “Flood Streets”

“A nuanced view of the city and its people, Flood Streets shows the changing landscape of New Orleans as it has never been seen before, dispelling the stereotypes about this tragic, defiant, joyful city.”LaFilm.net

“Flood Streets is dotted with incidental wit and wry observations of life in the Big Easy, which isn’t always.”Amy Biancolli/The Houston Chronicle

“A unique story of hope and despair, of determination and crazy-ass creativity, told bravely and told well.”Harry Shearer

Helen Krieger

These are just three of the many positive comments I found while researching Helen Kriegers production of Flood Streets, her first film production.  Helen and her husband Joseph Meissner, who directed and acts in the film, moved to New Orleans in 2001 and quickly fell into the eclectic, artsy community life in Bywater. They evacuated for Hurricane Katrina and were displaced, like so many New Orleanians, for six weeks of an enforced exile. The screenplay for Flood Streets is based on Helen’s book of short stories, In the Land of What Now, a fictionalized account of her experiences in post federal flood New Orleans. 

Flood Streets‘ awards  include:
Best Picture winner at the 2011 Action on Film Festival
Gold Remi winner at the 44th Annual WorldFest-Houston
Best Director, runner-up, at the White Sands Int’l Film Festival
Best Director, nominee, Action on Film Festival

I recently spoke with Helen about Flood Streets, life in New Orleans and the crafts of writing and film-making.

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Helen, I understand Flood Streets is based on your book, In the Land of What Now, and is your first film production. What made you decide to produce a film with no previous film making experience and how do you think that impacted your film? 

Although I had made a couple short films before Flood Streets, they were on a much smaller scale and were done basically as practice for this movie. Flood Streets was my first feature.

When my husband, Joseph, and I were evacuated for the storm, we didn’t know what we could come back to from our former lives. We didn’t know if the city was going to come back, so it was really like an early midlife crisis for both of us. For six weeks we sat at my parent’s house up in Wisconsin and started thinking about our lives and what we most wanted to do.

I realized I’d neglected my writing, and Joseph really wanted to get back into acting. We decided to put the two of these interests together to write a movie Joseph could act in. That’s really how I made the leap from fiction to film – it made so much sense for us to work together like that.

Once I got into script writing, I really enjoyed it, because one of my favorite things to write is dialogue. Also, I enjoyed the increased collaboration and input you get writing a screenplay. Everyone from the actor to the caterer has read your script so you get a wide variety of opinions and input. It’s really exciting. Having said that, I love writing short stories, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. Short stories are where I really connect with myself creatively and where I feel free to develop ideas.

Producing a movie for my first time could have been a disaster except that I had so much support from the community. I was mentored by two veteran New Orleans filmmakers, Glen Pitre and Michelle Benoit. They’ve been helping me with this project for the past three years. They helped me with the script, with getting everything ready to shoot, with editing, and now with publicity and the festival circuit. They’re really an amazing resource.

I also took a lot of classes at the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC). I joke with people that NOVAC was my film school.

What was the first concrete step for you in learning how to produce a film? 

I read a lot of books and took a lot of classes for the years preceding our shoot. I took a Film Accounting class at NOVAC that helped me put everything into perspective. The accountant is the one responsible for paying everyone else, so you get a good long view on what it takes to make a production happen. That was amazing experience.

I also had many meetings with Glen and Michelle where I just furiously scribbled down notes as they went over my budget and explained what I needed and how it would work. Then we were really fortunate to get an experienced indie line producer to work with us, Miceal Og O’Donnel. Once we had pulled our key team together, he helped us get everyone moving in the right direction.

We didn’t always know what we were doing, but we were fortunate enough to have a lot of people around us who did!

I read that Katrina and life post-K was a big influence on your decision to persue writing and film-making full-time. Do you think your life would have taken this turn if you hadn’t experienced the storm and life after?

That’s a great question. I think about that sometimes, and I just don’t know. I think eventually I would have gotten to this path because it’s something I’m so interested in, and it really suits me. But it may have taken a lot longer for me to get here.

Like I said, Katrina was an early midlife crisis, so without Katrina and that six-week hurrication of stress and soul searching, maybe my midlife crisis would still be some years away.

Oct 16 is the New Orleans premier of Flood Streets. How does it feel to be presenting your film about life in post-K New Orleans in New Orleans?

I’m so excited, because I’ve been working on this film for years, and so many people in the city have helped me and have been waiting to see it. We didn’t have a huge budget, but we wanted to create the best film we could, so we took our time editing, almost 15 months.

This spring we had our world premiere in Houston and that started a tour of film festivals across the country. We’ve had such great response, but audiences don’t get the inside jokes that New Orleanians will get. Also, the film shows a part of the city that often gets lost in post-Katrina films or documentaries – our sense of humor. When I tell people this is a film about Post Katrina New Orleans, I always have to add, “But it’s not a downer.” We wanted to show what there is that still draws us to this city and that draws all the people who have moved here since the storm.

It’s now over six years after the storm and I’m wondering if, when you talk about the subject of your film, you encounter any lingering “Katrina fatigue” or do people now get that it was the levees, not the storm, that really devastated New Orleans.

We get some Katrina fatigue when we first tell people about the movie because they think they’ve seen it before, and that it’s going to be one of those very depressing stories about flood victims. But our story isn’t necessarily about Katrina and none of our characters consider themselves victims.

Flood Streets takes place 15 months after the storm, and we use that surreal backdrop in the movie a lot, but essentially the movie is about the characters and their struggles. These struggles are definitely heightened and changed in unexpected ways because of the storm, but ultimately I wanted to show how life goes on, no matter how surreal the backdrop. By picking up this story well after the initial shock of the storm has passed, we get to show that weird stage after a disaster when you realize you’re still essentially the same person with the same problems to deal with. Only now you can’t get mailed delivered to your house…

In terms of the people being educated about what devastated New Orleans… I don’t think that’s happened yet. There’s still this narrative out there that New Orleans is all below sea level, and it was only a matter of time. Very few people know about the complicated system of human decisions that resulted in the federal flooding of New Orleans. People like Harry Shearer have been doing a great job educating people. His documentary about the levees, “The Big Uneasy,” has been touring the country educating people, so I’m hoping people start to understand.

Do you think locals will be more critical of the film than outsiders?

Definitely, because it’s their story that we’re telling, but I’m pretty confident they’re going to enjoy it. One of the reasons we wanted to do an ensemble storyline with multiple characters is because we wanted to hint at the diversity of stories in the city. There is no one post Katrina story and no one way of reacting to the storm, so I hope locals will see themselves or people they know in the characters we’ve chosen.

I understand you show a diversity of the musical talent we have here in Nola instead of relying only on Jazz or Brass Bands as is seen in many  film and TV productions. Was that a deliberate decision? How did you choose which genres and/or musicians to include?

That was a very deliberate decision. We love traditional New Orleans music, but we’re even more interested in how traditions continue to evolve with each new generation who takes them on. This is what makes New Orleans such an exciting place for musicians and artists to live. We didn’t want to portray a museum to jazz or funk; we wanted to shed light on the contradictions and collaborations at the edge of our ever-evolving culture.

We also wanted to put more of the musical focus on youth culture because this is where changes are often happening. When young musicians couldn’t get into mainline brass bands they formed their own. Influenced by hip hop as well as jazz, a new generation of second-lining was born. When indie rocker Clint Maedgen joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, he brought a new voice to the most traditional band in New Orleans. The Zydepunks blend traditional and new to create a heart-pounding new style. The Panorama Jazz Band takes influences from jazz, klezmer and brass bands to pull together their unique sound.

This was the New Orleans music we really wanted to share, and audiences across the country are really excited to hear it. After screenings, people always comment on the music and say how surprised they are by the diversity of music in the city, so I guess we’re doing our job!

All but two of the actors and all of the crew were New Orleanians.  Why do you think that was important for the telling of your story?

It was important to us to use locals on the cast and crew as much as possible. First, it’s just part of our mission as local filmmakers to showcase the talent we have here in the city.

Also, for the kind of story we were telling it was so important to have those authentic voices. This isn’t a crime story or an action adventure with lots of graphic effects. We’re telling a character based story about a very particular time and place, so it was so important for us to make sure we were getting that voice right, and it was nice to know we could rely on our actors.

Almost all our actors had been through the storm or the evacuation, and they felt we were giving an accurate portrayal of the city. Based on the script they trusted us to tell this complicated, nuanced story, and we in turn trusted them to tell us whenever something didn’t ring true. They brought costumes, props, they really went out of their way to help us do this right. And because they were from New Orleans they got that subversive sense of humor we have, even in disasters. They didn’t feel like they had to walk on eggshells about the material, because it was their story too.

I read in the press kit that your neighborhood rallied around you and the film became a real community effort. Tell us a little bit about that.

We filmed most of the movie in Bywater, in about 48 different locations, and almost all of them were donated by neighbors who wanted to see us make this film. Coffee shops, corner stores, shotgun apartments, warehouses, flooded houses in various stages of repair… people opened up all these spaces to us despite our meager budget.

In one case we were shooting a scene where a band places on the street. The band was Debauche, a young, local band that plays very energetic Russian music, and we needed to shoot this in front of a Bywater house. We knocked on doors up and down the street and let people know what was going to be going on, then when we got to the house we were going to be shooting in front of, we knocked and tentatively told the owner, “We’ve got this band, and we wanted to know if it’s okay if they play in front of your house…” It was an older guy, so we didn’t know how it would go over. “Who’s the band?” he said. I told him it was Debauche, and I figured he was too old, but he immediately started clapping his hands. It turned out he was a big fan! He told us to do whatever we needed to, to come into his house if we had to. He ended up dancing in his living room the whole time they were playing!

We also had so much luck getting background people in our film. As soon as a musician would start playing, people would come out of their homes or stop on their bikes and dance. A lot of people made it into the movie that way!

Are you working on any other projects you’d like to share with us?

Why yes, thank you! I’m working on the scripts for two projects right now.

The first is another feature film, this one set in the heart of an impoverished New Orleans neighborhood. A group of punk, DIY activists stage elaborate puppet shows and dangerous tall bike jousts in their communal-living warehouse, but when a pregnant friend arrives with nowhere else to go, it’s their chance to remake their social experiment into a true community. We’re excited to work with some of the amazing artists in New Orleans for this project.

The second is something totally different for me. I’m working on episodic writing, an original musical comedy series I’m creating for web or cable. Molly is a sex-starved, struggling writer who can’t get the attention of her indie rocker boyfriend, so she takes a job exploring New Orleans amorous underbelly. I’ve been describing it as “Sex in the City” meets “Flight of the Conchords”. It deals with journalism, art and sexual politics while featuring original music and a beautifully choreographed tribal bellydance sequence in each episode. I’ve gotten together with a composer, lyricist and choreographer, so I’m really excited to get working on this.

Where do you see yourself as an artist in five years? What are your goals?

 The more I write, the more I realize I love writing, so my future plans all have to do with finding more ways to do that. I’m very interested in writing for TV or cable because story is really king in these mediums, and so the writers get a lot of control over their sets. From casting to choosing props and working with the directors, the writers are typically the head producers in charge of their series. Having had experience producing shorts and now a feature, I feel like this could be a good fit for me.

With episodic writing, you get more time to tell a story than you do in a 90-minute feature film. With shows like “The Wire” and “Mad Men,” TV writing has risen to the next level. By following multiple characters’ storylines throughout the season, episodic writing has become a modern version of a sweeping, 19th century novel. It’s become a place where some of the best writers go to tell their stories, and with original web content starting to get some serious viewership, it’s easier to get into this highly competitive field.

Plus, how fun would it be to put together a writers room where one of the most solitary tasks, coming up with storylines and characters, can become a group effort? I could definitely do that for the rest of my life.

But like I said before, I’ll never stop writing short stories and other kinds of fiction. It’s where I feel free to really play with an idea no matter how ridiculous. Short fiction was my first genre as a writer, and I think I’ll never truly get over my love for it.

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The New Orleans premiere of Flood Streets will be during the New Orleans Film Festival on Sunday, October 16 at 4:45 at  Pyrtania Theatre.  The trailer can be viewed  below and up to the minute information can be found on their FaceBook page.

Femme Fatale Friday: Lindsay Rae Spurlock

I recently discovered Lindsay Rae Spurlock and her music when Emilie mentioned her in her Bragalicious post here. I listened to Lindsay’s tune “As For Now” and was blown away by it. I thought “I have to find out more  and share her with our readers!” So……here she is, our newest Femme Fatale Friday.

Are you a native Louisianan?

Yep! I was born in Lafayette, moved around with my dad while he worked in radio (a radio brat, so to speak), then moved back to Louisiana (Baton Rouge) from Middle school through college (LSU)… spent lots of time in Nola. Then after I graduated I moved to Atlanta, GA, then NYC, then Austin, now Los Angeles… all in pursuit of this music career. I will always consider Louisiana home!

Did you write all of the tunes on “Heart On”?

Yes.

How long have you been performing and what is your earliest memory of performing before a group ?

I have been performing my own tunes live for about 12 years. I performed/acted in musicals and plays throughout my schooling years. I started writing my own songs with guitar when I was 16 years old.  I was driving by a pub in Baton Rouge, LA called Tony’s Tavern and noticed a large ” open mic night tonight!” sign in the window. So I turned around, went in, barely old enough to enter this joint,  but confidently inquired about the process to sign up.Then came back later that night, invited tons of friends, and it was the most exhilarating rush being on that stage performing my own material. This was the first time I played my own music, solo, before a group.

Tell us about some of the television shows that have featured your music and how that came about.

Some of the television shows include; MTV’s Real World (3 different seasons)-My tune “November” played at the season finale of the Brooklyn season as everyone was saying their goodbyes….you know when they say the goodbye and act sad and cry, but are secretly glad because all they did was talk about each other anyway behind their backs… My tune “You Have My Heart” played on this same season, as well. “November” played on another episode in the Washington DC Season. NBC’s sitcom novella “Watch Over Me”- Tune: “November” played at the season finale of this show as well as a final sort of emotional goodbye, when a husbands new wife dies from being poisoned by the “bad guy”… touching. hehe  Also the latest placement was on the 3rd season premiere of Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital” with my tune “As For Now” playing in the end credits. Super good placement! Got a lot of momentum from this one. I have an upcoming placement in Felicity too! I’ve had some placements in the show Bad Girls Club and also overseas, in different foreign films and such. My tunes play in various stores across the nation too: Barney’s, Neimen Marcus, Aeropostale, Bonefish Grill, (Bonefish did a compilation with my tune “You Have My Heart” and mailed it out with promo and coupons across the nation) Outback Steakhouse, Charlotte Russe, etc…

How this came about: music soups (music supervisors) found me online or through people and contacted me. Also how I got signed now with a music placement company based out of the UK called AG Sync, who now has offices here in Hollywood and New York.

What inspires you as a songwriter?

Life.

Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you have any rituals, a special place where you write, does the melody or the lyrics come first…..etc.

The melody and lyrics usually come at the same time. I sit down at the piano and just start. Usually whatever is on my mind will just start manifesting itself into song.

What kind of music do you listen to? Who are some of your faves?

I like all kinds of music. Love music with good melodic lines, both vocally and instrumentally driven.

I grew up listening to a lot of queen with my dad. Love queen. I think Freddie Mercury’s voice is the best male vocalist I’ve heard.

I really admire musicians who can pull it off live, sans any pitch correction on the vocals.

Love electronic stuff! Love Bjork. Love Animal Collective (in fact my producer did Animal Collective’s “Post Meriwhether Pavillion” album. and Gnarls Barkley’s “St Elsewhere” album….maybe i mentioned this. love his work)

Loved the cranberries

Love Death Cab

Love Aphex Twin’s instrumental pieces “Rhubarb” and “Lichen”…..these are my favorite synth pad pieces and evoke lots of emotion. lots.

There are more… listed on my myspace/FB pages.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Conquering a greater portion of the world with my music. Playing bigger stages!

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I have no doubt Lindsay’s going to be kickin it for years to come.  For more scoop on what she’s up to, check out these links:

Lindsay’s My Space

Lindsay’s FaceBook

Listen to Lindsay’s song “As For Now” and download it free here.

Femme Fatale Friday: Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley

Through an email from a friend I recently became aware of a very talented NOLA poet and performer, Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley. She was competing in the 2011 Brenda Moosey WoWPS Video Competetion on Poetry Slam, Inc. with her poem “Voices”. She won. (Click here to view the video.) One look and listen and I was hooked by the passion and words of this young woman. I contacted her to ask for an interview for the blog and she was graciously accepted. Keep your eye on this woman – she’s going places!

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How long have you been creating poetry?

As far as the number of years I’ve been “creating” poetry, I will say that I’ve been “creating” it my entire life. All of my life experiences–past, present, and future–have contributed to each poem I’ve written and will ever write. I’ve been “writing” poetry for approximately 18 years.

Is poetry your primary genre? Do you work in any others?

At the moment, poetry is my primary genre, but it is not the extent of who I am as an artist, writer, and performer. I also enjoy writing songs, short stories, and plays. Right now, I’m actually working on–what will soon be–my first novel, so I’m very excited about stepping into new territory.

What is your earliest recollection of writing and poetry as a passion? Do you remember your first poem?

I actually started out writing raps in my purple 1-subject spiral notebook around the age of 12. Naturally, I began to experiment with a more free style of writing, becoming less confined by rhyme patterns and rhythm. I’ve kept a journal since 4th grade. That was the birth of my poetry, short stories, and plays. For some reason, I’ve just always known that I was a writer. I never had an aha! moment. It’s just always been there for as long as I can remember. Even before I ever completed my written anything, I knew that I was capable and called for such. Unfortunately, my personal internal memory card has malfunctioned and will not allow me to go back and retrieve my first poem ;)

Do you prefer the spoken word genre of poetry over the written and, if so, what exactly draws you to the spoken word?

I really enjoy both, but if someone were to twist my arm and force me to choose, I guess I would go with spoken word since that is where a poem comes to life. That is how the world was formed–through words spoken. Let there be Light, and so there was. The tongue is what gives the words the power. Spoken word is also how I conquered my shyness through the realization that I have the power to manifest things just by speaking them and that I have an audience of people captive, if only for 3 minutes. It is one of the greatest adrenaline rushes ever!

How did you first get involved in poetry slams?

I started out judging poetry slams at True Brew Cafe on Julia Street back in the day when Pozazz Productions was the lifeline of the poetry scene in New Orleans. In the back of my mind, I was like I wanna do that. I CAN do that!…I’m gonna do it! Well, I didn’t…immediately. When I returned to New Orleans after being displaced in L.A. for a year after Katrina, I was like I gotta take this more seriously! I may never have a chance to do it again. I began to build up my confidence quickly, and then Asia Rainey asked me to compete in The Battle of the Boot, an annual fund-raising slam against Baton Rouge. I was shaking so bad, I could hear it! But I got up and did my thang, and to my surprise, I had one of the highest scores of the competition. After that, I was hooked!

Is writing your full-time occupation?

Writing is not my full-time occupation. It is not my goal to become a full-time writer, because there are so many other things that I do. My goal is to become a full-time artist period.

How much editing do you do to a piece? Do you ponder and rewrite or just go with your gut?

Sometimes my pieces require little editing. They just come to me the way they’re supposed to be at that time. At other times, I have to go back and rework them, especially for timing purposes when slamming or when writing group pieces. Some pieces require a lot of research and re-working to incorporate information and my point of view/concept successfully. There are even poems that I’ve performed numerous times that are years old that I’ve gone back later and edited. I don’t think a poem is ever finished though. It is constantly re-writing itself.

Do you have a favorite place to write that’s particularly conducive to your creativity?

I don’t really have a favorite place to write, but it is hard for me to write under pressure or when it feels forced. That’s when I usually go blank or come up with something really corny and useless. At home in my bed with a pen and my notebook has proven to be the best place for me to create so far, but sometimes I do enjoy sitting outside, being close to nature, and creating.

Who’s work has inspired yours?

I don’t know if any particular writer has inspired my work, but I will say that my parents, grandmother, and some friends have inspired me as a writer. I do enjoy the works of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Arna Bontemps, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith, Patricia Smith, Sunni Patterson, Asia Rainey, Lionel King, Asali Devan, my fellow Team SNO (Slam New Orleans) team-mates, and the list goes on…

Where do you see yourself creatively in 5 years?

In five years, I see myself, most likely, no longer slamming but still performing spoken word in an international setting. I see myself as a published, best-selling author and playwright, and respected visual artist. I pray that I am a wiser, more effective, and more confident artist by then, and I hope to make a living and change lives through my art.

Please share some of your favorite poetry and writing places in New Orleans and on the internet.

To watch/perform poetry, I really miss True Brew Cafe, but right now, Pass It On at the McKenna Museum of African-American Art on Saturday nights is the place to be! My friends over at NOYO Designs have really done an amazing job at picking up and carrying the torch for the New Orleans poetry community! On the internet, of course, YouTube is an easy place to find a lot of diverse poetry performances that wouldn’t normally be documented elsewhere.

Where can we hear or read more of your work?

Very little of my work can be found on YouTube, but I can be seen at Pass It On at the McKenna on most Saturdays and performing all over the place! I will be competing at the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Columbus, Ohio, on March 9-12, and competing along with Team SNO in this year’s Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam in Atlanta (the first week of June) and at the National Poetry Slam in Boston (early August). I plan to publish my novel by the end of the year and am working on compiling a collection of my poetry. Other than that, I can be found on FB (along with millions of other people!), where I regularly announce my upcoming performances and post poems. My website is in the works now, and will be up within the next few months as well.
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Originally from Alexandria, Louisiana, Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley has been penning poetry, plays, songs, and short stories since the age of 12. Since making New Orleans her home in 1998, iCon has been an integral ingredient in its artist gumbo. She has held the titles of the 2009 Louisiana Individual Poetry Slam (LIPS) Champion, 2009 NOYO SlamChampion and Female Poet of the Year, and winner of the 2009 NOYO Poem of the Year. As one-fifth of “Mighty,Mighty” Team SNO (Slam New Orleans), New Orleans’s first slam team since Hurricane Katrina, iCon has helped to lead the team where no other New Orleans slam team has gone before—consecutively winning the Battle of the Boot (2009-10), 2nd place at Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam 2010, and Group Piece Finals Champions at the National Poetry Slam 2010. Currently, she is the winner of the 2011 Brenda Moosey Video Slam. A lover of the stage, iCon has also been featured in productions such as the musical, Badu-izms (Fringe Festival 2009), and Eve Ensler’s A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer (V-Day 2010). She was also featured in the EngageNOLA/Humid Being’s “If I Were Mayor” commercial for the 2010 New Orleans mayoral race. In March 2010, iCon released her first CD, The Art of Lyrical Horticulture which has received much love and praise underground for its flavorful blend of song and spoken word. She is also featured on many other artists’ works such as Team SNO’s Da Cypher, Suave’s Hip-Hop Soul Revival, and MF’N Entertainment’s The Reconception. Still relatively new to the game, iCon has already shared stages with the likes of Sunni Patterson, Taalam Acey, Kelly Love Jones, Amanda Diva, and Asia Rainey. However, her passion far surpasses the stage and extends into the community, where she has worked with and for several non-profits, while still finding time to teach writing workshops in public schools and assisting with the New Orleans Youth Slam (NOYS) team. With a dash of poetry, singing/rapping, acting, hosting, visual arts, teaching, and activism, Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley adds just the right seasoning to an increasingly flavorful gumbo!

Femme Fatale Friday: MetryChick

Today we’re featuring New Orleans’ jewelry and home accessories designer Celeste Haar of MetryChick. Celeste describes her designs as “NOLA Style With Metry Attitude” and specializes in original hand-crafted  jewelry and hand etched glass home accessories. I talked to Celeste recently for the scoop behind her unique designs.

How long have you been making jewelry and home accessories and what inspired you to choose this craft?
I started MetryChick in 2007. I taught myself how to etch glass after needing some Christmas gifts and looking to do something different. Since I taught myself I didn’t know about using stencils so I learned the hard way for a while. I got used to it and still don’t use stencils in any of my etching – this allows my etching to be very detailed and nothing is off limits. The saying is that you have to break a lot of eggs to make a good omelet and I seemed to break a lot of glass in the beginning until I got the hang of it. I also made a lot of UGLY glasses. My mom still has some of those – gawd bless her! I expanded into jewelry in 2008 as a way to increase the portability of my items at festivals and shows. My family was affected by a layoff and I needed to broaden my business base, so I took glass and expanded into jewelry. I have an obsession for all things glass – kind of like a barracuda, I love shiny things!

Is it your full-time occupation?
I was working part time in childcare until June, 2010. MetryChick.com is now my full time obsession.

What is your earliest recollection of design and art as a passion?
I have always been that kid that was drawing or writing or reading. I believe that my love of art and design came directly out of my love for reading. It really sparked my imagination. I learned how to cross stitch when I was about 7 for my new cousin. That was the first craft I remember making.

Tell us a bit about your creative process. Do you start a project with a beginning, middle and ending in mind or does it evolve as you go?
My creative process is kind of fluid. I usually start the project with the finish in mind. I know in my mind’s eye what I want the finish product to look like. I think my mind’s eye is a little nearsighted because the finished product is kind of blurry and I need to flesh out the final details. I am also a little ADD with my process. I can never have just one thing going. I usually have 2 or 3 at one time.

Do you have a favorite place where you design that’s particularly conducive to your creativity?
Sitting at my computer is where I usually get my ideas and start research or graphic design from there. I would love to say that it is sitting under the oaks at City Park, but really, it’s the computer.

Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing project?

Treat your work and projects as living and breathing beings. You have to tend to them until they are grown.

Who’s work has inspired yours?
A love of all things New Orleans was instilled in me by my Dad. My grandfather was a milk man for Borden’s so we would ride around the city talking about PawPaw’s routes and customers. That love was reinforced by a long time family friend, Gasper J. “Buddy” Stall. “Uncle” Buddy was a staple in my life as I grew up and I read and still have every single one of his books. I am a plethora of odd New Orleans trivia thanks to Uncle Buddy. His research of the city and state showed that history can be fun and that all sides of stories have to be fleshed out. It was through this love of all things in New Orleans history that I created and expanded my business.

Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?
World Domination. LOL! I see myself constantly growing and expanding. I think that if you let your art plateau or stop evolving that it will do just that. I always aim to make customers and not sales. I just believe in possibility and know that if I continue to put good Karma out into the world that it will come back to me. I just keep on planning not to plan too much. Life is too much fun of a journey to keep making plans. I am excited to see where I will evolve to in 5 years.

Where can we buy your designs?
You can shop online at Metrychick.com, or at any of these retailers that carry MetryChick – this list is always expanding!
Aluj Salon, Arthur Hutton Salon, Daydream Massage, DeJaVu Interiors, Designer’s Gallery, Fleurty Girl, Fun Rock’n Stuff, Pop City & Booty’s Fun Rockn’ Stuff You Want, Jazz Boutique, Milan Hair Salon, My Oh My gifts, Our Little Secrets, Paradise Cafe, Regan’s Hair Salon – Now Salon Sanity, Rose Lynn’s Hallmark, Serenity Day Spa and Gifts, TileMax, Touro Gift Shop

Femme Fatale Friday: Bayou Salvage

Our Femme Fatale today is Kerry Fitts, creator of the vintage inspired southern gothic designs of Bayou Salvage. All of the materials in her designs are either vintage,commercial salvage or eco-friendly newer materials sourced in the USA and she’s been featured in an array of media including Mother Jones Magazine,Southern Flourish,Readymade Mag and New Orleans Homes & Gardens. Kerry is as charitable as she is talented – 10% of her profits go to local causes.

How long have you been making clothing and accessories and what inspired you to choose this craft?

I’ve been making clothes from an early age and started making jewelry in graduate school (UNO FILM) just for fun. It was a great release from schoolwork and first it was like ohh look at all the pretty colors and then after spending so much money on materials and supplies I started to sell them at the first show in town, Bywater Art Market. My first market there was Christmas 2001.After selling out at that show I was addicted!

Is it your full-time occupation?

No- I teach at Delgado Community College as a full time instructor- both are full time passions. I plan to sleep upon retirement.

What is your earliest recollection of design and/or sewing as a passion?

It started with Annie Hall. Not only did I love the movie when it came out but dressing in buttondowns, ties and vests was so much fun in 6th grade. It was like playing a part in a school play but no one knew you were in it. Shortly after my grandmother taught me to sew. We went to the mall and my allowance didnt afford buying all the clothes I wanted. We went to the fabric store and came home to sew. By the weekend I had 5 skirts just like the ones at the mall but better colors. Wish that cute pink and yellow striped dirndl number was still around…

My mother was also a bit of a fabric collector and clothes hound. It was heaven to look through her closets at her pill box suits, Chanel bags and crazy 70s caftans from her travels. You could piece together her mysterious girlhood with an outline of the outfits.

Vintage fashion was very accessible and undervalued in that day. It was nothing to go to Goodwill or Salvation Army and buy gorgeous vintage clothing for just a few dollars. I started buying early and often. At one point I had close to 10 leopard coats. Kinda crazy for the deep south!

Tell us a bit about your creative process. Do you start a project with a beginning, middle and ending in mind or does it evolve as you go?

I am inspired by both materials and nostalgia at the same time. The beginning is amassing fabrics or sample vintage pieces that remind me of a time and place that seems fun to visit or revisit.

Deconstructed pieces take a bit longer to realize. I usually work with a silhouette that works well and then go into the vintage stash to see what will work well with those constraints.

Who’s work has inspired yours?

I have an undergrad degree in creative writing and an MFA in film. Literature and film are a guiding influence. I love dressing characters in my mind from Tennessee Williams’ plays, Flannery O’Connor’s short stories and films by Elia Kazan. I grew up watching Perry Mason and Turner Classic Movies on the sly all night long at home. The only designer I know of to any extent, besides Edith Head, is Coco Chanel because of a school paper on her.

If you find yourself losing interest in a project do you feel guilty and push yourself to finish or set it aside saying, “ah it’s just not meant to be”? Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing projects?

Some projects just cannot be saved. It is hard to let items go. Over here, seasons dictate the viability of designs. If samples arent completed before the season begins, chances are they will have to wait until next year anyway. It is a good idea to put the project out of site for a while- maybe in a box- and date it. If you do not go looking for the box for over a year, probably best to let it go and dont look back!

Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?
I’d love to design costumes for another film-it is really cool to see how wardrobe wraps itself around narrative and character. It would be great to do a few more fashion shows and even a video or two.Collaborating with more fabulous women artists like the pictures shown. I hope to intersect design and story perhaps by fashioning characters into the written page as well…

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WARNING: Be prepared for a Bayou Salvage addiction when you visit her Etsy shop. I’ve already contracted a serious itch.

Thank you, Kerry, for a delightful chat!

Connect with Bayou Salvage on the web:

Bayou Salvage on Etsy

Bayou Salvage on Twitter

bayousalvage@yahoo.com

Buy Handmade! Buy Recycled! BayouSalvage!


Photos styled,modeled and taken by Janet Antene 2010

Femme Fatale Friday: Susan Prevost

Photographed at the labyrinth in Audubon Park

Everyone who reads this blog and my personal one knows how much I love New Orleans. I’ve lived here now for 32 years – longer than I’ve lived anywhere – and consider it my forever home. My favorite thing about living here is that there’s always something new or unique to learn about this city of ours. I truly believe that no one that lives here – even if your family has been here since the beginning of time – knows everything there is to know about the city and the culture. It’s just not possible. And that’s a part of the beauty of this place, the fact that each new person you befriend has a piece of that  puzzle that is our culture and history and you can learn something new or see a new perspective you may never have imagined before.

That’s how I’m feeling about New Orleans writer Susan Prevost, our Femme Fatale for this Friday post. I knew we had a thriving community of writers and poets in NOLA but it always seemed out of reach to me. I’ve read about the writers of 17 Poets who meet and read at The Goldmine Saloon and about the open mike readings at The Maple Leaf but I’ve never been nor have known anyone personally who’s been a part of that scene. To be honest, I’ve been pretty busy working most of my life here and, even though I write as a hobby, I just haven’t had the time to pursue any of the avenues open here to those with a literary bent. (It even sounds weird to my ears to refer to myself as having a “literary bent” – lol.) That’s where the internet, and my recent retirement,  comes into play. Now that I have the time to blog, write and read more I’ve met many new people, via the internet, who share my interests – Susan being one of those people. She was gracious enough to leave a comment on my personal blog, almost a year ago now, inviting me to submit to her website, New Orleans Write Spot , which she described as “our New Orleans writers’ community blog”. I’ve been reading it ever since and recently did submit a couple of poems. I have to admit it took me a while to summon the courage to do so because, well, I’m a fledgling poet and only recently found an online group of writers that have made me feel like maybe my writing is ok enough to share. And, of course, Susan’s acceptance and publishing of my work has made me feel even stronger. For that I thank her.

So – long rambling story short – if you’re a NOLA writer and/or poet – or a reader! –  get thee to the Write Spot and join in the fun. It’s a great website with a supportive and creative feeling for writers plus you get to read the work of your fellow New Orleanians and what could be better than that?

And now for our interview with today’s Femme Fatale, Susan Prevost.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to choose this craft?
I’ve been writing since about the age of ten—off and on.

Is poetry your primary genre? Do you work in any others?
I’ve written short fiction and some essays as well.

What is your earliest recollection of writing and poetry as a passion? Do you remember your first poem?
I wrote my first real poem at about the age of 15.  It was about Georgia O’Keefe and New Mexico. It was a dream poem about escaping into the future, I guess.

Is writing your full-time occupation?
No, I must eat.  I’m an English teacher too.  I actually like having a life outside of writing.  Some of my best poems are about teaching.

I’m always interested in how other writers write, that is, do you ponder a poem for a while, keeping it in a draft stage and working on it periodically or do you write it all at once, as the inspiration and words strike you? How  much editing do you do on a piece?
Lately, I’ve not been editing much at all. I’ve been allowing the inspiration to create the piece.  However I’ve labored over poems in the past, sometimes for over a decade.

Do you have a favorite place to write that’s particularly conducive to your creativity?
Mostly my favorite place to write is inside my sunlit bedroom or on my front porch with my old lumpy dog at my feet breathing heavily.

Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing a piece?
I really can’t speak about being disciplined but the act of seeking my truth has always motivated me to write.

Who’s work has inspired yours?
I’m inspired by contemporary writers like Sharon Olds, Mark Doty, Tess Gallagher and the late James Carver.

I find it impossible to name one poet who is  my favorite – I have several. Who are some of your favorite poets and/or poems?

All of the above and William Carlos Williams and Theodore Roethke (My Papa’s Waltz)

Where do you see yourself with regard to your writing in 5 years?
I’d like to compile some of my poems into a book.

Please share some of your favorite poetry and writing places in New Orleans and on the internet.
Well, what could be better than the Goldmine Saloon on a Thursday night? I fantasize about writing at the Napoleon House.

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Thank you, Susan, for sharing your thoughts with our readers!

Femme Fatale Friday: Heather Elizabeth

Today we’re featuring New Orleans’ jewelry designer Heather Elizabeth of Heather Elizabeth Designs. Heather specializes in original hand-crafted New Orleans inspired jewelry and accessories. I talked to Heather recently for the scoop behind her fabulous designs.

Heather Elizabeth

How long have you been making jewelry and what inspired you to choose this craft?

I started making New Orleans photograph jewelry in 2002. My inspiration simply comes from my love affair with the city of my birth, New Orleans. I am a 5th generation New Orleanian. I moved to NYC in 1995. I got so homesick in NYC that within a year I was back at home in my beloved New Orleans. Upon my return, I was hungry to know everything about NOLA. I had piles of New Orleans history books on my nightstand and I was shooting a lot of film around the city from 1996-2002. I decided to quit my job as the window dresser of Hurwitz Mintz on Royal Street in 2002. I had no idea what I was going to do to support myself. I looked around my home at all of my NOLA photographs laying around and my history books. It was at this point that an idea popped into my head to make jewelry of my NOLA photos. I started with only necklaces in 2002 and now the rest is history.

Is it your full-time occupation?

Heather Elizabeth Designs is my fulltime occupation.

What is your earliest recollection of arts and crafts as a passion?

I have been involved in arts and crafts since I was a little girl. My grandmother was very creative. She could sew elaborate dresses and make just about anything she wanted with her bare hands. Her own mother was milliner on Louisiana Avenue in the early 1900’s and made gorgeous hats. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and I think she had a tremendous impact on the nature of my business. It’s sad because she passed away when I was only 18 years old. But, I know she is watching over me and helping me in any way that she can. So, I suppose I am indebted to my ancestors for my creative streak.

Tell us a bit about your creative process. Do you start a project with a beginning, middle and   ending in mind or does it evolve as you go?

My projects definitely have a beginning, middle and ending. I tend to be a person that concentrates on the    end result. So, I usually “flesh” the whole idea out on paper and then proceed with creating the piece.

Whose work has inspired yours?

I am particularly fond of the portrait miniatures that men & women owned as keepsakes in the 1700 and mid- 1800’s. I also love all Victorian jewelry and Art Nouveau jewelry. I am especially fascinated with mourning jewelry of the Victorian period. The craftsmanship of these pieces has inspired me to create some new hand cast designs which I will be debuting in the Fall. If I were to pick an artist in the present day, it would be my friend Kiki Huston. She is a local jewelry designer and although her work is contemporary, she inspires me to keep coming up with new ideas and to try new techniques.

If you find yourself losing interest in a project do you feel guilty and push yourself to finish or set it aside saying, “ah it’s just not meant to be”? Do you have any tips you can share regarding motivation and/or discipline in completing projects?

If I start to lose interest in a project, I just take a break for a few days and come back to it. Sometimes it may even be as long as a week or two, but in the end I will get my projects done. As far as motivation goes, one thing I value is having a bulletin board with pictures of things that inspire me to be creative. I change the pictures on my inspiration board every now and then to keep things fresh. I am in the process right now of remodeling my studio space. One of things I will do when everything is in place in the studio, is to hang some art work of my friends who show at the local art markets. The art work of my friends will also serve to keep me inspired while I am busy at work!

Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?

In 5 years I see myself owning a Heather Elizabeth Designs boutique selling my unique jewelry in New Orleans.

Where can we purchase your jewelry?

You can purchase my jewelry online at http://www.hedesigns.com. You may also purchase my work at the Arts Market of New Orleans, Bywater Art Market & Harrison Avenue Marketplace year round (with the exception of June, July and August). And, lastly my work is sold at select shops around the GNO area and they are listed on my website.

Where you can find Heather Elizabeth on the web:

Heather’s FaceBook Page

Heather on Twitter

Heather’s Blog