While the Crusade Tour officially, officially launches early next spring, the Atlanta and New Orleans stops were preview stops to build momentum and test the road-worthiness of Lady Blue. This, my friends – this was a really good idea.
While the Lady made it to the piazza of Atlanta’s High Museum of Art from my driveway (also in Atlanta) and back without a problem, the drive to and from New Orleans was a bit more eventful. Luckily, my co-pilot (who actually ended up doing all of the driving) is a very competent driver and also mechanically-inclined. Those of you who know us know that David Bram and I give each other a lot of grief (towards him, deserved – towards me, not so much), but I will flat-out say that he rocked this trip, and I would still be sitting on a curb an hour outside Atlanta if it weren’t for him.
David flew in from Albuquerque on Thursday afternoon, and I picked him up in Lady Blue and got right on the road. The back-roads were taking forever, and we decided to let her loose on the interstate. Windows down, music pumping – the adventure had begun! But we were barely into the second song of the road trip mix when she started bucking and decelerating. And so.
We stopped. We called the mechanic. We added gas. We added oil. We added fuel injection cleaner. We started. We stopped. We tried to start, and she refused. We cursed her. We encouraged her. We begged her. David laughed. I cried. We carried on.
This pattern continued all the way into New Orleans on Friday night, with several stops to change a fuel filter, an air filter, and give her breaks. Each time we stopped, people came up to the Lady to admire her and ask, “What are you collecting?” (after seeing the Crusade logo on the side). It was an unexpected and awesome opportunity to talk a little art along the way.
Once we arrived in New Orleans and got her into the valet line at the W New Orleans (who so generously hosted us), we were able to breathe a sigh of relief (although the valet guys had the opposite reaction).
New Orleans’ annual photography festival, PhotoNOLA, was this weekend as well, and as always I was impressed with the programming, the quality of work (this year may have been the best yet) of the photographers in attendance and the positive, creative atmosphere of this festival. On Saturday I gave a talk at the Ogden Museum about the Crusade and how photographers can use innovative programming to build an audience for their work. Thank you to everyone who came out – it was a blast.
And then – the big night! We pulled Lady Blue up in front of Dirty Coast’s new store on Julia Street and let the crusading begin. Like at the Atlanta pop-up, we had 6×9 photographs from local photographers to give away in the Local Photographer Showcase, and all of those photographers were present to engage with passerby’s about their work. And also like in Atlanta, people were blown away that they could choose between ten amazing images for free, and meet the photographer as an extra-special bonus.
Unlike the relatively tame daytime traffic in and out of the High Museum in Atlanta, nighttime on the streets of New Orleans is a totally different ballgame. We had a great crowd pass through from start to finish and so many people generously donated to the cause or purchased t-shirts and other Crusade swag. I loved every minute of it, and Lady Blue seemed to like the attention (and her blue mardi gras beads), because she was a little bit less of a diva on the return trip.