Marielle says...

Hi! My name is Marielle Songy and I write for a small local paper in the New Orleans area. I wanted a place where I could share my work with people all over the country, thus "Marielle says" was born. I hope you enjoy your stay. Feedback is always welcome!

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Local actress Sandy Bravender

Written: 3/14

     Local actress Sandy Bravender is no stranger to the stage. She grew up here. She got her start as a child doing musical numbers and it was here that she realized that she loved performing and putting on shows. Sandy has been doing this professionally for over 35 years, forming her niche as one of the leading ladies of local community theater.

      She first got her start as a member of Terrytown Country Club. When her friend Mim Babin suggested that they put on a play called “The Women”, to raise money for the country club, Sandy jumped at the chance. It was after that that she got involved with Theater West where she was on the board and did community dinner theater. After these experiences, Sandy had officially been bitten by the acting bug and she discovered that this was something that she genuinely enjoyed doing. Sandy worked at the Terrytown Country Club doing musicals and comedies in their clubhouse until she decided to open her own dinner theater.  Although owning her own dinner theater was something she enjoyed, Ms. Bravender felt that her talents would be better highlighted if she were able to perform at different venues around town, such at La Petite Theater in New Orleans. She decided to start her own production company with her partner, Dane Rhodes, and thus Sandi Roads Productions was born. This afforded her the opportunity to travel all over town producing plays.

      Of all of Sandy’s accomplishments, one of her biggest has been working with and mentoring actors who have gone on to star in stage productions in New York. People who have excelled in honing their craft and performing all over the country bring Sandy joy, because of the start that they got in actors workshops that she taught. Speaking with Sandy, I could hear the pride in her voice knowing that the skills that she shared with her fellow actors are being enjoyed by theater goers nationwide.  Some of Sandy’s favorite local actors to work with have been Becky Allen, Karen Hebert, who is a choreographer who has done a lot of work with the Atlanta theatre, Richard Hutton, who is a teacher at Tulane, as well as Ricky Graham.

     Sandy also does fundraising through local theater. She has done many shows benefitting alums of the former Archbishop Blenk High School, as well as fundraisers for West Jefferson Hospital.  In the past, she put on a show called “Joe and Mary’s Wedding”, in an effort to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, an experience of which she is especially proud. She also put on a production for the 25th anniversary of the Jefferson Parish fire department, which those who experienced it are still talking about years later.  Sandy’s latest fundraising effort is the dedication of the running of her latest play, “The Dixie Swim Club” on March 22nd, which will raise money for a local woman who is battling Churg-Strauss Syndrome (CSS), a rare autoimmune disease that restricts blood flow to vital organs and tissues. She is in Stage 2 of the disease, and because no one in New Orleans can treat it, she must travel out of state in order to receive care. The fundraiser will raise money to help cover these expenses.

      Sandy is proud to perform regularly at the only dinner theater in the New Orleans area. Located in Gretna at the Timberlane Country Club, the Salty Swine provides a fine dining experience with a nice mix of live local theater.  All stage productions are out of New York and performed brilliantly by local actors.  Sandy stresses that the plays that she produces are light hearted and fun musicals and comedies. “There is enough drama in life and we want everyone to come out and have a great experience.” Sandy says.

       For those that want to be a part of the action and try out local theater themselves, Sandy suggests being proactive. There are always audition notices in the paper. A veteran to the stage and no stranger to the process herself, Sandy suggests taking acting classes in order to hone your craft at Tulane, Loyola or UNO. She is also quick to emphasize that local productions are always looking for backstage help and that could be a good way to get your foot in the door.

      Sandy is now starring in “The Dixie Swim Club”, a story about 5 women on a swim team in college who agree to get together every year in order to catch up and share their experiences. This eclectic group of women includes a nun, a down on her luck mother under an eternal dark cloud, a woman obsessed with her looks and in love with love, a lawyer with a chaotic personal life, and a chronic organizer and perfectionist, who assumes her role as group leader. The comedy is playing at Timberlane Country Club on Friday and Saturday nights from March 21st-29th with a Sunday matinee on March 30th  at 12:30pm and then on April 11th, 12th, and 13th. Doors open at 6:30pm, with a dinner buffet at 7:00pm and the show beginning at 8:15pm. Tickets are $50 and reservations can be made through calling 362-4451.

Tagged: new orleansnolatheaterartactingwriterwritingsandy bravendergretnawestbankwestbank beacon

New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy

Written: 3/14  

   New Orleans is home to many unique schools. International and Charter schools help expand the minds of local young people. Counted among these is NOMMA. NOMMA is  the New Orleans Military Maritime academy which is a Type 2 charter high school serving students, no matter their background or previous school experience. Having recently moved into a new campus, located at 425 O’Bannon St. in New Orleans, NOMMA will be holding their building dedication on March 20th, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

      What makes NOMMA unique is the program.  Every student at NOMMA is a cadet of the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Program. They are educated by a dedicated team of teachers and retired military instructors who use their expertise to guide the students in their education.  Students at NOMMA are mentored by JROTC instructors as well as master’s level academic faculty who help cadets achieve their personal and academic potential, and certify core knowledge and skills of analysis, problem solving, communication, and global responsibility for success as future leaders.

      The academic philosophy at the New Orleans Military Maritime academy is that the purpose of education is help a student develop the skills, knowledge and attitude needed to become a responsible and productive citizen. NOMMA also works to nurture the characteristics, strengths and proficiency of each individual in the program. NOMMA’s standards-based managed curriculum model provides experience that is necessary in the pursuit of higher education as well as success in the work place. This curriculum functions under the knowledge that all students are capable of achieving at higher levels in learning with a strong formal schooling and that schools, as well as parents and the community, can control the conditions of success, and maximize the learning environment of students through clear objectives, high expectations and a balance assessment of learning.  It is also NOMMA’s belief that the instructional process can be adapted to improve learning and that student success, based on meaningful experiences, yields maximum achievement.  NOMMA offers a full slate of college preparatory classes for students to earn a college preparatory diploma. Academics focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and NOMMA is the only school in Southern Louisiana to offer a complete cyber science program. Electives are offered for drama, journalism, music, band and foreign languages.

      NOMMA expanded to grades 9-11 in the 2012-2013 school year and currently boast 360 Cadets with an average of 97% attendance daily. 90% of the Cadets come from Jefferson and Orleans Parishes, while the remainder from Plaquemines, St. Tammany, and St. Bernard parishes. NOMMA receives a great deal of community support for the program and local organizations have provided financial support to the academy. NOMMA cadets regularly volunteer their time to various causes such as supporting local events and taking time over their Christmas break to move the Academy and lay sod for the new lawn. 

      NOMMA’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Program provides a unique educational experience for those students who wish to seek a further education or be successful in the work force.  The JROTC, which was established by the National Defense Act of 1916 and expanded by Congress in 1964, operates within a disciplined and structured framework to train student cadets in authoritative and motivational skills that will encourage them to be leaders throughout their educational career as well as in their work lives. The Military and Maritime academy seeks to reflect the successful model of the Noble Street Charter School in Chicago, Illinois, with even greater academic success.

      NOMMA moved into its final home in December 2013 after occupying two different facilities during the planning and construction phases of its campus. The campus can host up to 745 Cadets with an average class size of 25 students.  The Academy’s campus is the result of a renovation of two historic Navy buildings at Federal City linked by new construction.  The new grounds contain labs, classrooms, a library, music rooms, a cafeteria and administrative spaces. A final phase of renovations will provide a separate wing for MCJROTC classes and Warehouse space.  

Tagged: new orleansnolawestbankwestbank beaconalgierswritingwriternew orleans military and maritime academey

Interview with local artist Becky Fos

Written: 2/14

      Becky Fos is a Texas born artist and mother residing in Gretna with her husband Jeff Fos, and their son Jude. When she decided that the plain white walls of her home needed a “little something”, she discovered a hidden talent; she is an adept painter. Becky got her start as a skilled hair stylist, and while studying stenography found that she has an eye for art.

How did you first realize that you wanted to paint?

 When the sterile, white, naked walls of my house started crying out for art, that’s when I first realized that I needed to paint.  I painted what I wanted to see on my walls, and I loved it!

 Who or what inspires your work?

Many things inspire me as an artist!  I am inspired daily just by living here in this magical city!  I love to walk uptown, downtown, the French market, and especially my neighborhood, Old Gretna,  to just encounter the magic that this city is all about.  I am inspired by the musicians that fill the street (especially those on the street corners with their tip buckets).  

 How did you come up with your particular style?

I started painting on my own just sitting on the floor with my canvas propped up against the cabinets in my kitchen.  I think that my style is evolving daily because I look at what I first created, with one of my son’s paint brushes and acrylic paint, and now I am using a pallet knife and oil to mold the paint to create texture.  I still love acrylic because it dries so fast, but I love oil because of the texture that you can add to a piece.  I love color too.  I was actually told that I use way too much color and that it’s not going to appeal to the majority of people, but I just can’t help being me.  I love color and I paint for myself and I’m just blessed that others would like it too.  

 Which of your pieces would you call your favorite?

 I think that it would have to be a toss up between my James Booker piece and my Big Chief Monk Boudreaux!  They are both inspirational as human beings, and I got the biggest rush while creating them.  I really couldn’t put down the paint.  The “Big Chief Monk Boudreaux” was actually a collaboration with photographer Joe Marino.  The way that he was able to capture all of his spirit in one photo was just magical.

 Who is your favorite artist, local or otherwise?

I love the creations of local artist Terrance Osborne, Debra Hurd, Bruni Sablan and of course, Vincent Van Gogh.

 You are a mother and you are also studying stenography. Do you have any advice for a mom who would like to create but can’t seem to find the time?

I actually found the time by painting with my son after all of the homework and extra-curricular  activities.  That was the only way I found time, and it was fabulous.  I got to relieve my stress and spend time with the apple of my eye, as well as create art for my naked walls!  I cherish these moments.  We would set up shop in the kitchen, put the sheet down on the ground and go to town.  Sometimes I would get so wrapped up in what I was doing that I would go back to it after Jude was fast asleep!  

Café Hope recently commissioned you for a portrait of John Besh. That’s quite the honor! How did that come about?

I was commissioned by Cafe Hope to paint the portrait of John Besh as a thank you for all that he has done for the foundation.  It was a huge honor and I was so excited.  They asked me if I would like to display art in their newly renovated dining room a few months ago and that’s how they came about asking me!  I was thrilled to present it to him at his gala in December.  

 What would you say to a young person who is eyeing a career in the arts?

I would say to follow your dreams and listen to your heart.  Go with whatever makes you happy.  I was never “classically trained” in art.  I never went to an art college.  I went to John Jay to study hair and I love doing hair.  In fact, I only do wedding hair because it’s my passion.  I have many hats that I like to wear. They all make me happy and have molded me into the person that I am today.  I am still studying stenography; it’s just going to take me longer to achieve that dream as well.  Who knows what could happen?

Where can we see your work? Do you have any showings coming up?

I have original paintings at Classic Frame and Mat in Old Gretna, Cafe Hope, Make Me Up on Magazine St. and The Nation on Magazine St.  I have prints for sale at Creative Hang-ups on Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey and Charles Jacob Design on Metairie Rd.  I also have a website:

Tagged: new orleansnolaartartistbecky foswestbankgretnawestbank beaconwriterwriting

King Cakes on the Westbank

Written: 2/14

     Well, it’s that time of year again, and whether you call it Mardi Gras or Carnival, it translates into fun. Along with going to fancy Krewe balls and seeing how much you can catch at a parade, one of our favorite traditions is, of course, King Cake. The delicious confection topped with sugar and magic that everyone starts to crave as soon as the calendar tells us that twelfth night is upon us. It really seems that no matter how hard we try, we can really never get enough.  Since the season is a little longer this year; that means there will be more time to enjoy this delicious treat and maybe experiment with flavors that we haven’t tried before.

      Antoine’s Famous Cakes and Pastries located at 1300 Stumpf Blvd. in Gretna offers an assortment of king cakes and queen cakes of all types. Here you can get a king cake called “The Jester”, which is a traditional style king cake. You can also treat yourself to “The Wild Magnolia”, which is a king cake that you can get filled with an assortment of flavors such as apple, strawberry, lemon, pineapple or cream cheese, or if you want a version that is a little smaller, go for the queen cake. The cake itself is moist and not dry, with a little bit of flakiness and topped with a soft icing. Antoine’s Kringle Cake is a traditional praline king cake with cream cheese filling. All of Antoine’s king cakes are available for delivery or they can be picked up in store.

      A long time Westbank favorite for king cakes has been Hi Do Bakery located at 441 Terry Parkway in Terrytown. The king cakes here are described as a special kind of flakey and moist confection.  The cakes are in more of the classic brioche style than the typical “cinnamon roll” offering of some other places. Cakes come in sizes of small, medium and large and range in price from $9.99 to $29.99. You can get the cakes plain or filled with such fillings as apple, lemon, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, and of course, cream cheese. One thing that sets Hi Do king cakes apart from the rest is their unique shapes. If you are looking for something a little different than the usual round king cake, fleur de lis, crab, crawfish, and king crown shapes start at $26.99 for plain and $32.99 for filled. That’s something that is sure to get anyone in the mood for Mardi Gras.

      One classic king cake that most of us have had at least once is a Gambino’s king cake. Located at 300 Lapalco Blvd. in Gretna, Gambino’s offers a variety of different king cakes as well as Mardi Gras gift packages.  They also offer three different sizes of their traditional king cake. Their “Fat Tuesday” size starts at $49, their “King Rex” size starts at $55.50 and their “Big Easy” size starts at $80.70. You can get the cakes in a traditional, unstuffed flavor or you can get the single or double stuffed. Also, if you are looking for something a bit “off the beaten path” from a king cake, Gambino’s also offers Mardi Gras petit fours.

      Finally, if you are looking for a king cake on the go, I would suggest stopping by your local Rouses and picking up one of the delicious cakes that this local supermarket has to offer. Not only are they flavorful and come in a variety of flavors such as strawberry, cherry, lemon and cream cheese, but at $8, they are perfect for picking up on the go and enjoying at home or at the office. I find the Rouses king cake tasty and I like that the filling is “swirled” into the cake, so that you get a bit in every bite. It’s actually one of my favorites, especially if I am heading to a “parade party” and I need something quick to bring my host and fellow partygoers. It’s simple, but it always seems to be a hit. The Westbank Rouses is located at 2851 Belle Chasse Hwy in Gretna.

Tagged: new orleansNolamardi grasKing cakeswestbankwestbank beaconwriterwriting

Expansions at Oakwood Center

Written: 1/14

      Well, it’s the New Year and if you are anything like me, the last thing you are in the mood to do is set foot in the mall. Believe me, I get it. I think that we are all suffering from a bit of “shopping fatigue” at this point. But, if you haven’t been to Oakwood Center lately, there may be some things that you have been missing out on. Namely, there have been plenty of mall expansions over the past few months and Oakwood is better than ever. Many new stores have taken up residence at our mall, and if you need some convincing, I am up to the task.

     For starters, Dick’s Sporting Goods is a new sports and sports accessories store that opened in September. Here you will find everything from jerseys, to sports and exercise equipment. I think that this is a fantastic addition to not only the mall, but the Westbank itself. For so long, we didn’t have many options when it came to sports related items. We could shop at a small sports shop, go to Academy Sports and Outdoors, or put in the good fight at Wal Mart. Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a much needed alternative. I was able to stop in during the grand opening and check out the new store. It’s a gorgeous space with a lot to offer.  I was especially impressed by the wide selection of jersey options for the female set.

      Another new addition to Oakwood is Rue 21, a clothing and accessories store geared towards teens and young adults. I stopped in here to look around, and although it isn’t my personal style, I can definitely see the appeal of a place like this. Here you will find stylish clothing for both young men and women. Rue 21 also offers an assortment of accessories and signature fragrances. The store is entirely new, so everything is quite neatly arranged and put together and the staff is friendly and eager to help with whatever you may be looking for.

      I’ll admit it. I’m a typical woman when it comes to beauty supplies, so when I heard that an Ulta Beauty Supply store was going to be a part of the Oakwood Center expansion, I was pretty excited. I felt that one of the things that Oakwood was missing for a long time was a proper cosmetics boutique. Ulta delivered and didn’t disappoint.  The store is large and has been wonderfully arranged so that anything that you may be looking for is easy to find. They have an entire section dedicated to makeup and face care, including different face washes. They have an assortment of hair dryers, straighteners and clip in hair extensions. They also carry an assortment of hair care products, many of which I had only been able to find online in the past. Oh! And if you are looking for the perfect gift, look no further than the perfume and cologne section at Ulta. They carry designer fragrances at really good prices, so that you won’t feel guilty about treating yourself, or that special someone.

      Finally, Old Navy has moved and has a brand new store located near Rue 21. This store is a lot bigger and has a more “fresh” feeling than their old location. Of course, everything in the store is exactly what you expect from Old Navy. Stop in to find nicely priced tops and bottoms for Spring, as well as a wide assortment of shoes and dresses for the girls.

      I hope that I have given you a few good reasons to venture over to Oakwood this month. Oakwood Center has gone through a lot of changes as of late, and new stores are being added all the time. There are a lot of fantastic stores that I didn’t have the opportunity to feature here, so stop over and see for yourself. 

Tagged: westbankoakwoodmallshoppingnolaneworleanswritingwriterwestbankbeacon

Greenberg and LaPeyronnie, Attorneys at Law

Written: 12/13

      Sometimes there comes a time in life when we may need a lawyer. Whether it is for something such as personal injury, family law or small business related, you want to know that you are in the hands of a capable lawyer that you can trust. When you are in need, look no further than Greenberg and LaPeyronnie, Attorneys at Law. With a combined experience of over 65 years, the Greenberg and LaPeyronniefirm has earned the highest possible peer review rating from Martindale Hubbell, one of the oldest and most respected peer review publications in the legal profession.

      One thing that you can trust Greenberg and LaPeyronnie with is any personal injury case that you might need help with. David Greenberg and Ann Thompson are experts when it comes to personal injury cases, having represented injured parties for their entire career, with Mr. Greenberg working as a personal injury attorney in the Greater New Orleans area since 1981.  David Greenberg has experience in representing people who have been left with life changing injuries due to an accident, and will work hard in order to get you what you deserve. Ann Thompson has been a personal injury attorney for her entire career, actively participating in personal injury litigation, and achieving successful results.  Adrian LaPeyronnie has been representing insurance companies in injury cases for over 15 years.  This gives him a unique perspective when handling your case and enables him to protect the interests of those hurt in an accident.

      Cases concerning family law can be especially stressful. During her “Katrina” semester of law school, Ann Thompson clerked at the Domestic Violence Action Center in Honolulu, Hawaii and beginning in her third year of law school, was later admitted to the Tulane University Law School Domestic Violence Clinic.  It was here that Ms. Thompson represented victims of domestic violence, an area of practice that she continues to be passionate about today. The lawyers of the Greenberg and LaPeyronnie firm understand the extensive preparation that this area of the law takes and is prepared to represent your case before a hearing officer, magistrate or trial judge and if necessary, they are more than ready to bring your case to trial.

      Greenberg and LaPeyronnie offer other legal services such as successions, wills and probate. They can help you appoint a power of attorney to take care of your affairs if you are unable to do so. They can also assist with legal issues concerning organ donation and how your body will be handled for burial. Greenberg and LaPeyronnie are also experienced in handling small business matters and will help you with the operation of your business in accordance to laws, rules and regulations affecting it. Also, when dealing with insurance claims, it’s important to hire a capable lawyer.  Greenberg and LaPeyronnie will help you figure out the extent any insurance claim and help you recover it. If you are injured in a maritime accident, Greenberg and LaPeyronnie can represent you.  These experienced attorneys have prosecuted cases in both state and federal court, representing those injured while working on inland waters or in the Gulf of Mexico.   Finally, Greenberg and LaPeyronnie are knowledgeable in Louisiana Real Estate Law. They have successfully represented clients concerning the ownership and use of their property, and work to retain the rights of their clients when it comes to their real estate property.  Greenberg and LaPeyronnie are ready to represent you whether you need to know your rights of ownership of property, defend your ownership of property, or claim your ownership of property. At Greenberg and LaPeyronnie, they believe that smart matters.

     The offices of Greenberg and LaPeyronnie, Attorneys at Law are located at 848 2nd Street, Suite 200 in Gretna. They can be contacted by phone at 504-366-8118, fax at 504-368-9711 or emailed at Their website is located at

Tagged: new orleansnolabusinesswriterwritingattorneyslawyerswestbankgretna

The Parks of Plaquemines

Written: 11/13

      When you are raising a family today, you might want to do so outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. You want a nice, quiet residential area that is safe and that you can call home. You want access to all of the amenities such as shopping and nightlife, but you also want a place where the kids can go outside and play in the fresh air and feel safe. Look no further than The Parks of Plaquemines,  located on Woodland Highway in Belle Chasse. This beautiful neighborhood is 9 minutes from downtown New Orleans and provides all of the amenities that one would come to expect from the place where they will be raising their family and making memories that will last a lifetime.

      I was recently given a tour of The Parks of Plaquemines by David Waltemath, the President of Classic Properties; a prominent real estate development firm in New Orleans. He has worked to develop The Parks of Plaquemines as the first master planned neighborhood in Plaquemines Parish. Phase II has now begun on this exciting project and I was delighted that I could get a firsthand look at the development.

      While I was going through the neighborhood, I was blown away. The homes here are gorgeous and most are in a traditional contemporary style.  There is a nature trail that goes throughout the wooded area that surrounds the development which is perfect for hiking, sightseeing or simply enjoying the fresh air while getting some exercise. There is a community tennis/multi-purpose court that is open to all residents as well as a community swimming pool that will be open to residents beginning in May 2014. The best part of the development is the playground located within walking distance of all of the residences. Here you can bring your children to enjoy a play area that is complete with a slide and swings. How wonderful it is to have something like this right in your own backyard!

      If I have been able to pique your interest in The Parks of Plaquemines, let me give you some more information. Lot prices range from $60,000 to $150,000 and estimated home values are between $300,000 and $1 million+. There are approximately 212 home sites and 15% of the development is dedicated to green space, open area and recreation amenities.  There is extensive landscaping throughout the area as well as numerous parks to be created. In Phase I, 74 lots (90%) were sold and now under Phase II, there are 51 lots under construction and there are 40 homes complete, under construction or about to break ground. Long story short: there are big things happening at The Parks of Plaquemines!

      Having been able to get a firsthand look at everything that is happening here, I will tell you that I am blown away. The houses are gorgeous and the area is quaint and quiet. Putting it simply, this in an idyllic place to live and raise a family. What I love most about the area is how close you are to simple things like good schools, restaurants and shopping, yet far enough away from the city for it to still be quiet. The Parks of Plaquemines also has a gated entrance with limited access, so that you can rest easy knowing that your family is completely safe. Whether you are looking to buy or build, be sure that The Parks of Plaquemines is on your radar.

Tagged: new orleansbelle chassewestbankplaquemines parishnolawriterwritinghousinghomes

Interview with New Orleans artst Christy Work-Boutee

Written: 11/13

      Raised in Gretna, Christy Works-Boutte, the first deaf graduate from the renowned Ringling College of Art and Design, is one of the most prolific poster artists in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. She has created bestselling posters for the Gretna Heritage Festival (2003-2013), French Quarter Festival (2010), Crescent City Classic (2010-2012), Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo (2008-2011), New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (2009-2011), The Louisiana Marathon (2013-2015), The Lafitte Seafood Festival (2009-2012), and many others. Her large, commissioned oil paintings can be seen in various hospitals, restaurants, and residences throughout the gulf coast.

      She opened Art by Christy Gallery and Framing located at 642 Terry Parkway in Terrytown in September of 2006. Christy’s husband, Brock Boutte, then a manager at Target, left the retail industry to take over Greg’s Gallery, a long time frame shop. The shop became Art by Christy Gallery and Framing and they have run it successfully ever since.

      In the summer of 2011, Christy and Brock purchased a historic and majestic Queen Ann style home located at 603 Lafayette Street in the heart of Old Gretna, with the intention of eventually moving the gallery to the front of this location. With the lease ending at the Terry Parkway location in September of 2013, Christy and Brock thought the time was right to make the transition to Old Gretna. The Art by Christy Gallery is now open 7 days a week by appointment. The appointment format really works to their advantage, as Christy and Brock are constantly working on art projects and promoting their successful children’s book, Gris-Gris and the Cypress Tree.

Where is the gallery now located?

603 Lafayette St., on the corner of 6th and Lafayette. in Gretna. It is a white house with a black wrought-iron fence surrounding the property.

What inspires you?

Our culture here in southern Louisiana. Our food, love of music, indigenous animals, colorful personalities, and zest for life here in the one of the most magical cities in the world.

Who is your favorite artist, local or otherwise?

As far as classical masters, I really appreciate Monet and Van Gogh for their execution of impressionist work, which highly influences my expressionistic style. I am also a fan of Rodrigue and Michalopoulos here locally.

Which piece of yours is your favorite?

My latest piece tends to be my favorite at the time. So right now it is the 2013 Gretna Heritage Festival Painting.

When did you first realize that art was how you wanted to make your living?

I realized I wanted to be an artist in high school when I took my first art class from a wonderful art teacher, Ms. Shepard, at Archbishop Blenk. As a deaf student, I struggled daily to keep up with what was going on in classes and in school life. Art became an escape from those struggles.

What would you say to a young person eyeing a career in the arts?

To anyone who is eyeing a career in the arts should consider taking courses in business and marketing or find a partner to handle the business. Even if you are a talented artist, that is only half of the formula to a successful art career. You need to be business savvy as well. Thanks to my hardworking husband, Brock Boutte and business partner who handles the relationships, correspondence, proposals, and financial work. It allows me the freedom to be creative, inspired and have the time to focus on my artwork.

Tagged: artartistspainternew orleansNolachristy works-bouteewriterwritingcreativegretnawestbank

Family Events for October

Written: 10/2013

Here we go! It’s October! October is one of my favorite months of the entire year. The weather is getting nice and crisp and it’s less humid and I can actually stand being outside. I’m sure you are ready to get out into the fresh air. Lucky for all of us, there are some incredible activities coming up this month, so that we can shake off that summer heat and really jump into autumn.

      First things first: autumn in New Orleans always means that it’s festival season. The West Jefferson Hospital Foundation is excited to kick things off with Gators and Goblins 2013: West Jefferson Family Fest. This promises to be a really good time.  Get down to West Jefferson Medical Center, 920 Avenue B in Marrero on October 19th to experience family fun from 11am to 11pm. Here you will find a fantastic time for you and your kids. Behind West Jefferson Hospital, you will be able to check out music acts August Rush from 1pm to 3pm, Aaron Foret from 4pm to 7:15pm and Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr from 8pm to 11pm.  Stars of the hit show, Swamp People, Troy and Chase Landry, will be doing a meet and greet from 4pm to 8pm.  If you are bringing the kids along, there is plenty happening at the fest to keep them entertained. Check out the WJ kid zone, which will have activities for adults and children of all ages. Also get the kids to check out the rock climbing wall, the Tiger slide and the Spiderman obstacle course. For the younger kids, there will be an animal kingdom play area and an old woman in the shoe slide. There are also going to be vendors selling food, so everyone is sure to have a really good time!

      All of the fun isn’t just contained to Marrero. Head over to St. Cletus Church at 3600 Claire Avenue in Gretna and check out their 2013 Oyster Festival. This is always a lot of fun and this year it’s happening from Friday, October 18th to Sunday, October 20th Here you will be able to enjoy delicious food like Fried oyster po boys, char broiled oysters, turkey legs and much more.  There will also be fun activities such as a silent auction, bingo, and for the kids; a rock climbing wall and archery. Live entertainment is also on the schedule and on October 18th St Cletus Oyster Fest is proud to present bands, Chicken on the Bone from 6 to 8 and Bag-O-Donuts from 8 to 11. Come back on October 19th to see At Fault from 3:30 to 6:30 and Five Finger Discount from 8-11 and on October 20th, Mojeaux will take the stage from 5 to 9.  If you are looking for some daytime fun, on October 26th, Gretna’s Farmer’s Market will be hosting free pumpkin decorating for kids from 8am to noon. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson and Councilman Chris Roberts will be providing pumpkins and decorating supplies for the kids.

      Halloween activities abound! If you aren’t in the mood for a haunted house this year, Gretna has scheduled some fun alternatives. On October 19th, from 6 to 9 you will be able to head over to the Historic Hook and Ladder Cemetery to enjoy a  guided tour of the cemetery with guides dressed in period clothing. Tickets are $10 and can be obtained by calling the Gretna Tourism Office at 363.1580.  On Halloween, October 31st, it’s Goblin Night at the Gretna Marketplace. Bring the kids out, so that they can enjoy different booths that are jam packed with free food and games that they are sure to enjoy.

      I hope that I have given you a lot to do throughout October. It’s nice to get out of the house and enjoy the pleasant weather now that the humidity has decided to take the rest of the year off. I love Fall and I hope that you are as excited about the season change as I am!

Tagged: nolawritingeventsfamily

Po Boy stops on the Westbank

Written: 9/2013

      No matter what your culinary tastes happen to be, I think that we can all agree that almost everyone enjoys a po boy. These delicious sandwiches can be made with pretty much anything, no matter your tastes. The po boy or “poor boy” is a Louisiana sub sandwich on French bread, usually consisting of mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and either meat, seafood or some other “filling” such as French fries.  The term “poor boy” was coined in 1929 during a streetcar workers strike. Restaurant owners Benny and Clovis Martin, brothers who were former streetcar workers themselves, served the men (whom they referred to as “poor boys”) sandwiches, and it wasn’t long before the sandwiches themselves were called poor boys or “po boys” as pronounced in Louisiana dialect.

      All over the Westbank there are many fantastic places to get your po boy fix. One of my favorite places for a po boy has to be Perino’s Seafood located at 6850 Westbank Expwy in Marrero. Not only can you get the classic po boys here, such as shrimp, oyster and roast beef, but they also offer a wide selection of other types such as hot sausage, alligator sausage, chicken breast and ham and cheese. You can even get half and half shrimp, oyster or catfish for an extra dollar or two. I like that the po boys here come on a softer type of French bread. I love the classic crumby French bread as well, but the soft bread adds a nice touch to the sandwich.  I have noticed that sometimes the bread on a po boy sometimes overpowers the filling inside. That didn’t happen here and I was delighted. If you are in the mood for a side with your po boy, Perino’s offers French fries, onion rings, cole slaw and potato salad. If you are craving a dessert, be sure to indulge in some bread pudding. Perino’s Seafood is open Sunday-Thursday, 9:00am-7:30pm and Friday-Saturday, 9:00am-8:30pm.

      Head up the road a ways and you will find yourself in Gretna. Stop into Vince’s Seafood located at 1105 Lafayette St. and try one of their many po boys. I really had no idea that this convenient seafood market even offered po boys! It was fantastic to discover that not only do they offer all of the classic po boys, but they also have an offering called the “Cardiac Arrest”. Not for the faint of heart, this sandwich is packed with roast beef, hot sausage and swiss cheese. It sounds delicious and a little dangerous; a perfect combination!  If you aren’t in the mood for a po boy, Vince’s offers seafood platters as well as seafood gumbo. These come with a side of French fries and your choice of potato salad or baked macaroni.  Stop in between 11am and 2pm and enjoy one of the daily lunch specials that Vince’s offers.  Vince’s is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30am-5:30pm.

      Salvo’s Seafood, located at 7742 Hwy 23 in Belle Chasse, is a restaurant that doesn’t need any introduction. Established in 1984, people travel from all over the city to experience the glory that is Salvo’s.  So, what is Salvo’s best known for? People rave about their overstuffed po boys, of course! Here you will find these local sandwiches of all variety. What I like most about Salvo’s is the “different” kinds of po boys you can find here, particularly clam, stuffed crab and soft shell crab. It’s enough to make me want to go and pick one up right now. Orders come with house salad, bread and your choice of French fries, cole slaw or potato salad. Other sides offered are onion rings, baked beans and hush puppies, among many others. After 5pm, Salvo’s serves catfish, tuna steak, and if you are feeling adventurous, frogs legs. Salvo’s Seafood is open Tuesday-Thursday, 8am-9pm and Friday-Saturday, 8am-10pm.

      Po boys:  they may just be the perfect food. It’s hard to say “no” to a sandwich that is packed with meat or fried seafood and I consider it one of the many perks of living in New Orleans. And you might find it tempting to enjoy a po boy at every meal, but remember: your taste buds might like that, but your heart won’t. Always enjoy your po boys responsibly and in moderation.

Tagged: poboysfoodlouisiananeworleansnolaseafoodfoodiesnolaeatsnoladiningwestbankwritingwriter