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The Scene: Spotlights

The Scene: Spotlights

Some of the people and spaces that define craft in New Orleans.

The Scene: Spotlights

Some of the people and spaces that define craft in New Orleans.
Winter 2024 issue of American Craft magazine
Author Katy Reckdahl
Audience of people watching a musical performance.

Ghost-Note at Music Box Village. Photo by Katie Sik.

Framed photos cover the walls, multiple mannequins are dressed in elaborate masks and clothing in celebration of New Orleans.

Photo by Cedric Angeles. 

Backstreet Cultural Museum

In this jewel in the Tremé neighborhood, the late Sylvester Francis curated the Backstreet, an ode to New Orleans Black culture that he called “a powerhouse of knowledge.” It is now run by his daughter Dominique Francis-Dilling and her staff, who can tell stories for days about skull and bone crews; baby dolls; Black Masking Indians, also known as Mardi Gras Indians, who annually create beaded-and-feathered suits; and social aid and pleasure clubs that host annual Sunday afternoon second line parades, when club members dance through the streets while being serenaded by brass bands. | @backstreetculturalmuseum

Music Box Village

Set on the levee next to the Industrial Canal, which opens onto the busy Mississippi River, Music Box Village occupies a one-acre forest where the sounds of the river—ship horns, train whistles, and drawbridge signals—create the right ambiance for making music. Its centerpiece is a collection of artist-made interactive “musical houses,” which were made in the village’s own metal fabrication shop; each structure makes its own music. This sonic playground is beloved by children, but it also serves as the setting for performances and concerts, where audiences relax under the leafy cover of oak trees.


Lights adorn several stages in music box village.

Music Box Village. Photo by Tod Seelie.

Photo of Jeff Poree.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Poree.

Jeff Poree

For five generations, master plasterer Jeff Poree and his family have created and maintained New Orleans’s decorative plaster: ornate ceiling roses and medallions, crown moldings, columns, walls, beadwork, scrolls, lions, gargoyles, panels, domes, and arches. At the Poree casting shop, artisans sometimes shape up to 1,200 pounds of plaster a day. 



Darryl Reeves

Master blacksmith Darryl Reeves hand-forges and refurbishes steel and brass furniture and railings and painstakingly restores wrought iron picket fences and railings—complete with delicate leaves and tendrils and curves—that are a signature of New Orleans’s French Quarter and other distinct historic areas such as the Garden District, St. Charles Avenue, and Esplanade Ridge.


Photo of artist Daryl Reeves.

Photo courtesy of Rush Jagoe.

Artist Pat Lee pictured with figurative sculptures at the Dutch Alley Artists's Co-op

Photo by Cedric Angeles.

Dutch Alley Artist's Co-op

Operating for 20 years in the historic French Market, steps from tourist staple Café du Monde, Dutch Alley is a true co-op staffed by the two dozen artists who make the work that’s sold in the gallery. Shop for handmade hats, fiber art, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, photography, prints, and linoleum cuts, including Robin Daning’s well-known paintings made on dominoes, Nick Conner’s wooden bowls, Kimberly Parker’s mixed-media visual pieces, Wanda Wiggins’s African-influenced fabric collages, and Pat Lee’s figurative sculptures (pictured here with the artist).


Windgate Foundation logo

This article was made possible with support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.