Michelle Levine’s “Pillars”

Known globally from famous photographs taken in her own flamboyantly vivid Mardi Gras costumes, Michelle Levine is more than just one of New Orleans’ most recognized characters.  She’s an incredible artist who is not only enthusiastic about her work, she is excited about anyone who is excited about art. Michelle’s devotion and energy to organizing a venue to help promote other local artists is evident in her recent advancement to head of the Arts Market of New Orleans held in Palmer Park the last Saturday of every month.

It goes without saying that the costumes Michelle has designed for the Mondo Kayo accurately embraces the frolicking image of the Carnivalesque parade that rolls at the crack of dawn every Mardi Gras Day, but did you know how incredibly cool Michelle Levine is?  I do!

Earlier this evening, Michelle hosted an opening exhibit of her latest collection at Cafe Degas, a cozy French restaurant tucked into a screen of foliage on Esplanade Avenue.  I was finally able to meet this polite yet vivacious artist and talk a little about her latest series.  Entitled “Pillars,” each of Levine’s pieces featured a tall salt cellar with bright, colorful backgrounds and highly reflective tops.  It was precisely those reflections that drew me to this collection.

Apparently, I am not alone.  Michelle admitted her fascination with the shapes and colors created inside the reflection and confessed a growing obsession for this unique subject.  “I keep walking by this pot in my kitchen, analyzing the angle of the reflection,” she said, offering her selfless smile.  In her search for other mirror-like objects, she told me of a garbage can that she can take anywhere and capture its reflection on canvas.  I can’t wait to see how her ideas flesh out…

Although I desperately wished I could have stayed for dinner (moules-frites!), it wasn’t my cheat night and I had lots left to do when I got home.  Currently, Michelle also has another exhibition on display featuring depictions of different McDonald’s Restaurant signs ravaged by Hurricane Katrina now showing at the Convergence Center on Canal.

I look forward to seeing more work by Michelle in the future and perhaps, in 2011, I will finally be able to see her costumes firsthand when at last I can wake up early enough on Mardi Gras Day to witness Mondo Kayo and Zulu for the very first time.

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