Life Imitates Art Imitates Life and sometimes comes out as a parade!

I am originally from Portland, Oregon. I usually tell people I’m from Seattle, because I feel that the years in Seattle were my growing years, where I got involved in the local music scene, and went to Seattle Art Institute. My Education began pretty early at the Portland Art Museum where as a child I went to programs where I learned everything from simple drawing to printing, etching, pottery, painting and then some. In college I went to the University of Oregon in Eugene where I took fine art, and had teachers tell me I was more of a commercial artist. I enrolled in the art institute in Seattle where they told me I was more of a fine artist. What struck me is that teachers never straight up just say “wow, your filled with creativity”. Instead they try to fit you into their molds. I went on from both of these schools to attend seattle central where I didn’t have these labels.

I began doing shows regardless of the commentary from educators. I also got involved in tons of photography back then, and found myself working for a magazine in there, and also just experimenting with something I was OK at, but it seemed to make me happy. My true calling would come later in life when I finally matured enough to sit down and be one with the canvas. I had a hard time finishing things, or a hard time letting them go. Either way the four years of portraiture finally paid off when I found myself focused enough to do them. I had wanted to be a fashion illustrator, computers took that job. I wanted to be a police sketch artist, and the web took that too. In fact at every turn the computer seemed to be taking the jobs of artists who just wanted to sit down and create without using a computer to embellish their work. While you will find a spot on this webpage where you can buy prints, I won’t lie, I’m an artist who believes in originals, not copies. Being affordable is also something I strive for, but as the years go by, I still remain affordable, but still rising in the pricing is just part of the game as an artist grows.

I have lived in Portland, Eugene, Seattle, Long Beach California, Prescott Arizona, and now in New Orleans. I feel most at home in New Orleans, and have lived here longer than Portland, the city I was born in. Here’s my little story on that moment in time.

The Dirty Paris of the South called to me back in the 90’s. A Friend had moved to New Orleans, so I saved up money to visit her. Of course I came for ten days of Mardigras parades, with my friend guiding the entire vacation. I was enamored immediately and inspired beyond my wildest dreams. I even came back to the following mardigras and years later I met friends at Oak Alley driving across the country to return for a THIRD Mardigras.

Three was the charm.

I finally moved to New Orleans and became one with the parade culture.

20 years later I live here, and am blessed to have the opportunity to share my love of New Orleans through painting.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-orleans-carnivalesque-day-of-the-dead

the artist and her work.
empire state deli
empire state deli

I am currently working on several small murals at Empire State Deli. You can find them in the Central Business District / or CBD in New Orleans. Great place to dine, and I have two more smaller murals to go before I tackle a huge mural on the opposite wall. Stop in and take a look, and tell Paul Hello.

Hurricane Katrina and No one stops mardigras

August of 2005 I was walking home from work just about a week or so out from my birthday. As my friend Kevin walked me home, we passed by a party goin on. Kevin said, lets stop. He also said “This is a Krewe Du Vieux” party, so my mind was already in the idea of HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER. Sure enough it was and next thing I know I’m talking to the krewe captain and looking at their float. I commented that I sure would love to join, I live up the street, I’m an artist, I do lettering, I do paper mache, I do, I do, I do and I do. We exchanged numbers.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, and I was introduced to my first “disaster” all I could think of was NO NO NO, nothing can stop mardigras, nothing. I just got into a krewe, this can’t be. NO this can’t be. And I was right, Mardigras didn’t stop, and I found myself in Rue Bourbon, my first parade, and I’m dressed as “fridge over troubled waters”. It was glorious. It was also one of my fave parades, Krewe Du Vieux.

I got to work on the float, banner, lettering and a mardiclaw monster was born.

Over the years I then joined in “Les Bon Enfants” or the “Good Children Parade” which happened every Easter, and was a result of Katrina, and bringing the parade to an old folks home to spread easter cheer, brass bands, and Candy to the elderly.

I put together a Pirate Parade as well after seeing “Pyratecon”. The Naval band led that parade with kids and pirates, including local musicians who came out to play on a mule drawn buggie. Literally cost one dollar per person to roll that. Back when permits were much less expensive and more about the detail the police would provide.

I was a member of 6t’9 social aid and pleasure club, and did the “sixth ward to the ninth ward” halloween parade after katrina that brought brass and candy to the blighted neighborhoods after they were devastated by Katrina. A Glorious Parade that lasted until gentification took it out.

I started Skinz N Bonez womens drum krewe in 2011 as a response to Wildman John and parading with him on Super Sunday. We formed a pact and began with drum practices on sundays at the hi ho lounge.

From there we rolled Krewe of Boo, Okeanos, Thoth, Joan of Arc, Merci for the Magic, Muses, Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale, and Krampus, We Collaborated with The Wild Tchoupitoulas for Super Sunday, St Josephs nite, and Jazzfest.

All while painting all the things I’ve taken in as a person, or as an artist. Each parade a reflection of that moment I fell in love with the city, and all playing together, as art imitates life, imitates art, and then parade that.

I wanted to add that while Katrina played a huge role in my art, so did the New Orleans Saints in my writing.

below is an excerpt from “humidcity.com” which is still out there on the webs, but was a life saver after katrina. I had written a personal piece about the superbowl, and they had a chance to read it, and then they published it. I have kept a copy of it since it expresses my Joy at that moment in time.

I knew back a few weeks, when I decided to paint a giant Drew Brees, that something was different. Maybe it was sitting there watching each game, each week, being on the computer and sharing the plays with friends, or the entire city showing their faith, but I knew then, what I see now… A Black and Gold Supabeauxl.

From that first game after katrina that held us all together, to last nights victory, we’ve come from great tragedy to a great victory. The dome represents so many horrific things, right down to the fact that they painted it white shortly after, so as to not remind us of “Katrina”. I had friends at the dome that fateful night, and the stories were shameful. The people inside, and those at the convention center, all “Entertainment” for an America that sat and watched helpless as this city drowned. We were a tragedy unfolding, and becoming ONE giant reality TV show gone REAL.

The Emotions of that first home game with U2 and green day seemed to set the tone for the victory we would wait four years for. A Victory that each one of us earned, even though sometimes, it was on a couch with a beer in hand. Victory was KEY, to a city that has been struggling to move forward. Drew Brees coming to the game, to represent and help us rebuild, not only our Faith, but our team.

That last game? When fans showed at the Superdome with family members ashes, and more… The time had come. Fans representin the black and gold, and the decibles inside reflected the amount of pride and energy that WHO DAT fans have. Team members couldn’t hear each other, and the black and gold grew louder. Jokes with locals revolved around the fact that it was mardi gras, and we were all trained to scream for beads, therefore, screaming for a black and gold supabeauxl, had just crashed into the greatest gras since Katrina.

I remember being broken down in a car, somewhere in Alabama, driving back from a wedding we thought we’d never go to, but did,,,, once forced to leave a drowned city. Car broken down, and a new friend arriving to bring us to his house, while we waited for a ride back. He turned on that game, and I became a puddle of tears seeing the Saints on the field, while we all were roaming the country for someplace not only to live, but to SEE that game.

Then the return to the dome, and U2, green day, september ending, and the beginning of the mass return to New Orleans herself. Coming home to no electricity, no heat, no hot water, and yet, proud to be home. Even if it meant racing from one red cross station to another for ice, one salvation army truck after another, or driving long distances to make groceries, or dealing with a forced curfew, that you NEVER thought possible in a city once 24/7. Katrina may have crushed us on television sets, but back home, we were finally rising up, and returning…. NO MATTER WHAT.

It became evident that something was happening. That Gras had no brass bands until we got to muses… and babylon and chaos… that night the music returned, and that night a white float passed by with no riders… symbolizing all those lost during that fateful night. The playing cards I scored that night spoke of all the politicians who had turned their backs on us, and left us to drown. An Entire country that saw us as less than human, like animals caged and set free to pillage a city that was left behind. NOT ONE GOOD story that happened, was put on tv to linger as long as the stories of looting, and shooting. AND as someone who DID stay and walk around, my anger inside was turning to rage. A nation that sat glued to a television set watching a third world country go through a MAN MADE disaster… (yes thats right, the levee failures) and a nation making social commentary on the fact that THEY didn’t think we should EVEN HAVE A GRAS!

Well, I think that southern comfort billboard said it all…. NOTHING STOPS MARDI GRAS…. NOTHING.

We were all returning, home or no home, to bond as new orleanians at the mardi gras. Some for the first time since the storm.

And now, the Black and Gold Mardi Gras begins… From what I saw out and about last night? This will be a gras to remember. One filled with as much Joy as that first one after katrina. People were in their cars headed to the french quarter last night… the entire gulf coast just took a deep collective sigh, and felt that release of grief, that relief of pride and glory, KNOWING that last nights television airing of the supabeauxl, was now showing america something heroic, and not a tragedy.

That fateful day, that brought us to our knees, was forever changed by one Drew Brees….

I can honestly say that I’ve never felt such emotion during a football game. We had a few who hadn’t seen a supabeauxl game, we had a few who knew nothing of the game, we had some who had a hard time watching because they had been such lifelong fans, and then there were those in the room so confident that they just smiled during those first few moments where we were behind.

Texts poured in from friends all over the country at the beginning of this game… a nationwide WHO DAT NATION rose to the occasion…. I mean, who doesn’t like to see the Underdog win? . I laughed at all the music that has risen up just FOR this occasion. WHO DATS everywhere were joyful, and we were ALL IN THAT NUMBER. We were all marching in at that kickoff…

I knew a voodoo priest who had blessed them, I knew fans with parents ashes at that game, I knew there were voodoo dolls with pins waiting to come out, I heard about the citywide prayer vigil, I knew that this religious city would bring out all the spirits, and those long gone, would be standing over us, and I knew it was going to be a victory. The Spirits, the Sinners, and all the Saints, would make sure that the black and gold were no longer “Ain’ts”.

Knew the second half would be when we made it OUR game.

And there it was. the entire room rose up, and the city with it. The deafening sound of victory in New Orleans was now rising, and we were there.

I ran out the house with friends into the street… Cars were going by playing get crunk! Standing there in the middle of the street in the cold? was something I’ll remember for a lifetime. You could hear bourbon street, you could hear the neighborhood, and car horns, fireworks, who dats everywhere windows flew up and yelling WHO DAT WHO DAT WHO DAT WHO DAT…

It was almost like a Dr Seuss dream… all the cindy lou who dats were out the BOX!

I even got a text “WHO DA FUCK DAT”, and it was like the WHO DAT that went around the world.!!

I know for the next six months the “WHO DAT” will be the common greeting. I know that come tuesday, I will see history… the parade that we have waited for, will come out of the DOME SWEET DOME, and roll through this great city… a sea of black and gold, and JOY… sheer JOY.

Looking about the room at that victorious moment? TEARS streaming, TEARS flowing… laughter, tears, joy and more… Then seeing all the who dats in Miami, refusing to leave the stadium? BIG LAUGHTER all around. When I got home later? They were still sitting there WAITING for their team…

I ate so much food yesterday, because of the anxiety, because of all the energy I was expending just watching… waiting for it.. I felt I had played that game by the time it was over, I was exhausted. I got to watch it with some very close friends too, which made it even better…

Then the texts poured in again from all over the country. WHO FUCKIN DAT, seemed to be the resounding who dat pouring forth…

The walk to the quarter, staring at that giant parking lot of fans, flags, screams, horns, high fives, sheer joy, and more… the party had officially started.. my thoughts of how great it would be, having america see us, ALL of us, showing our black and gold… WITH NO RIOTING…

An incredible thing to even think of going to miami? I don’t think so. I’m proud fans went there, I’m even prouder that folks are heading here right now… knowing that this mardi gras is gonna be the shit. Knowing that the amount of money pouring out of the pockets, and into the city? YEAH U RITE! I can only believe what the quarter looks like RIGHT NOW. No one has slept, NO one… NO ONE WILL BE AT WORK TODAY…

we have come back… we brought the hurricane brees to miami, we have a NEW MAYOR, and a NEW BEGINNING, and no more PITY PARTY… but a Pride that will glow for quite some time. LOMBARDI GRAS is ON!!! If you are thinking of coming here? get moving… this is history, and this time? I hope Americans who dissed us take note… We might be a third world country inside the US, but WE HERE… WE BACK… WE DAT!

WHO DAT!

-Mardi Claw, New Oreans Artist

That time you ended up in a turbo tax commercial with a MARDIGRAS theme. hahhhha. I’m right in the beginning on the left. enjoy.

and it wasn’t just ONE commercial. It was two. In this one I’m closer to the end, and again on the left. can you find me? SO MUCH FUN….