New Orleans Artist MOUSIE’s Story
~As Told by MOUSIE, Herself~
I landed in the Jackson Square Art Colony in the summer of 1977. I was no stranger to New Orleans. I had first fallen in love with the French Quarter on visits to my paternal grandmother and aunt and uncle here when I was a teenager in the sixties, and all my life I had been regaled with family stories about my 3X great grandfather who had fought in the Battle of New Orleans, side by side with his brother, and about my cousin Margaret’s house with the cornstalk fence, that was taken to be used as Union headquarters during the Civil War. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is no wonder that when I started publishing New Orleans commemorative prints they had an old fashioned look from some other place in time.
As a teen and young woman, I was fascinated by Art Nouveau and the “Golden Age of the Poster.” What I wanted most in the world was to be a poster artist, but I thought that I had been born too late! Little did I know that years later I would be in the perfect time and place to become the creator of “Art Nounew!” (Because it’s a hundred years too late to be Art Nouveau!)
After I found my rightful place at the Center of the Universe on Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans, I spent close to 20 years drawing portraits and caricatures from life, which is how I learned how to draw heads.
At that point, when my friend Jim Russell passed away in the summer of 1994, my husband Fritz the Cat suggested that I should fill the void he left with some posters of beautiful women. After some consideration, I realized that what I really wanted to do was portray a whole family. I was so tired of hearing tourists tell me, “Man! I LOVE Mardi Gras! I can’t wait ‘til my children are grown so that I can bring them, too!”
What in the world do they think we do with our children during Carnival time?! Lock them in a closet?! Mardi Gras is a family affair! Spread out some blankets on the Neutral Ground, put an ice chest and some folding chairs and a ladder so that the little ones can catch some throws, too! Then MawMaw and PawPaw and Mom and Dad, and the kids and the grandbabies can make a day of it!
It worried me that some of the more lovely aspects of Mardi Gras were not being effectively expressed to the world. It is NOT “all about the booze and beads.” It is about the magic, the mystery, and the pageantry! “The Magic, the Mystery, and the Pageantry” became my slogan at that very moment, 26 years ago.
As an aging hippie chick, I was drawn to the side of Mardi Gras that consisted of gentle people with flowers in their hair, and elaborate costumes with feathers and jewels, and a conviviality among strangers putting aside reality for a while.
My first year out I published three images designed to be hung as a triptych: a man, a woman, and a little boy. The man is “Mister Sandman,” the Magic. The woman is the dreamy “Spirit,” the Mystery. The little boy is a Mardi Gras Ball Page, “The Boy King,” the Pageantry.
Mardi Gras 2020 is my 26th Mardi Gras Lady. She is called “Mardi Gras Vision.” The quote at the bottom says, “Your vision will become clear onIy when you can look into your own heart.” (Carl Jung~ 1875-1961) In my heart I will never lose the vision of the Magic, the Mystery, and the Pageantry of New Orleans!
~Peace and Love,
New Orleans Artist MOUSIE