Local nonprofit hosts fundraiser for artists, art project
Community Visions Unlimited, an arts-based nonprofit, held a fundraiser at the New Orleans Yacht Club for its New Orleans Street Gallery project, which commissions artists to paint utility boxes at intersections throughout the Greater New Orleans area.
The project has “artified” 157 utility boxes so far and is looking to expand to St. Bernard Parish and Marrero. Carly Jackson, of St. Bernard Parks and Parkways, sought out the CVU to bring the project to St. Bernard. She is very impressed by the artwork currently on the boxes.
“Every time you drive through the city [of New Orleans], you see the amazing boxes. It’s just such amazing artwork and we’re trying to bring more artists to St. Bernard,” Jackson said.
They have funding for nine boxes. The St. Bernard Parks and Parkways will sponsor five of them.
“They should be rolling out soon. We’ve sent out emails to the artists to submit renderings. I would hope within the next month or two, you’ll see them going into place,” Jackson said.
Jeannie Tidy is Vice President and Founder of CVU NOLA. It began in 1994 as an effort to tackle 100 blighted properties in her neighborhood, which was between Broad and Bayou St. John, and Ursuline and Orleans Avenue. After working with the city, the owners of the blighted properties and local architects, she was able to turn the neighborhood around.
“After the first year, we had about 15 houses that people were renovating and within three years we had 75 projects,” Tidy said. “New people moved in there. We put in three community gardens. We did a lot.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, much of the city was struggling including the city’s visual artists. Almost all of her neighborhood, Lakeview, was flooded. Tidy sought a way to help out her struggling artist friends and her neighborhood, and that’s where the idea for the New Orleans Street Gallery project came from.
The CVU works with the neighborhood associations to sponsor a utility box, and pick an artist.
“We have an arts committee of three, plus a neighborhood association representative. The neighborhoods really tell us what kind of artwork they want,” Tidy said. “We send out a brief to the artist. The artist sends back their information to us. The committee only sees the rendering, so they don’t know who the artist is or anything about them.”
The CVU supports the artists fully and gives them the tools to complete the project.
“We pay them. We promote all the artists. Almost all of them have received commission,” Tidy said. “They get paid $250 per box. We furnish them with a paint kit with very good paint. We prime the boxes and make them ready for them. That’s how it works.”
One of the artists chosen by the committee was Gentilly resident Pandora Davis. Her time as a student at NOCCA made her eligible to participate. Her box on the corner of Manhattan and Lapalco Boulevards pays tribute to our emergency workers.
“I painted a paramedic helping a young boy, a fireman saving a dog and their respective logos,” Davis said.
CVU NOLA raised $5,000 through the auction, which will help expand the project to new areas.