A trip to New Orleans

from the Artsology series The Arts Adventurer

I decided I needed to do something special for my 50th birthday, and wanted to take a trip somewhere over a long weekend, but I was having a hard time deciding where to go. I found an interesting website called "Jauntaroo," which asks you what you're looking for in a trip before they make any destination suggestions. You can pick 5 things from 4 categories, which include "vibe" (I selected "local culture"), "activities" (I chose "all arts" and "landmarks/sites"), "geography" ("city"), and "weather" ("mild: 55 °F - 74°F"). You can set a budget range and then ask for their suggestions. They had numerous interesting results, but many of them didn't seem logical for a long weekend, such as Rome, Athens, and Bogota. But New Orleans seemed reasonable, and was certainly appealing due to my appreciation of jazz and the rich history of jazz in the city. I had never been there before, and so that became the final choice.

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After landing at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, I was greeted by this large-scale painting of a jazz parade. I was anxious to get on my way and into the city, so I didn't stop to go up the stairs to see who painted it. But it was an appropriately festive painting reflecting what is certainly a festive city.

large painting depicting a jazz parade on view at the New Orleans airport

If the airport is going to be named after jazz legend Louis Armstrong, there better be something about Armstrong at the airport, right? Here's a sculpture of Louis Armstrong, although there was no plaque detailing who the artist was or when it was made. Below right is another sculpture seen at the airport, an abstract steel sculpture by artist Steve Kline. There's nothing about this sculpture that says "New Orleans" to me, although one could argue that the abstract shapes have a festive feel with their sense of movement.

sculpture depicting Louis Armstrong at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

sculpture by Steve Kline at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

I have a habit of seeing things and making visual associations. When I saw this view of the baggage claim area (below left), with the unusual orange lighting and overall futuristic feel, it reminded me of a famous photograph of JFK airport which showcased its futuristic design. Although now that I've tracked down that picture, below right, taken by Hungarian-born architectural photographer Balthazar Korab, there's not a whole lot of similarities other than a futuristic or science fiction-like feel. At any rate, I was inspired to take my picture of the baggage claim area based on my memory of the visual impact of this other photograph.

baggage claim area at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

interior view of JFK airport designed by Eero Saarinen

The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is actually located in Kenner, Louisiana, which is about 11 miles west of downtown New Orleans. I had a pre-purchased ticket for a shuttle bus to my airport, and I saw this crazy suitcase while waiting to get my shuttle voucher. I would soon be able to start my arts adventure in New Orleans ...

This is Chapter 1: Exploring New Orleans

Chapter 2: The Modern Hotel

Chapter 3: Second Line in NOLA

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