New Orleans loves its music and its food-and its craftspeople and artists too. There are many ways of experiencing or taking home with you some of New Orleans’ quirky crafts and artworks, while still eating and listening to music! In the spring, it’s really fun to visit some of the local arts markets. One of the oldest is the Arts Market of New Orleans, held rain or shine in Palmer Park located on the corner of South Claiborne and South Carrollton Avenues, the final stop of the St. Charles historic streetcar. The Arts Market is held on the last Saturday of every month, and you can eat wonderful food there (of course, it’s New Orleans!) and also listen to live music (of course, it’s New Orleans!) Many local visual artists show their work, and you can drool over gorgeous jewelry, hats, handbags, ceramics and wood items, and anything else that our creative artists have imagined. Upcoming dates for the next three months are (rain date Sunday) Saturday March 31st – Celebrate Africa Day at the Arts Market; Saturday, April 21st (special early market); and Saturday May 26th . You can the ride complimentary bicycles offered by your Garden District Uptown Bed and Breakfast, Southern Comfort there too; there’s a Bicycle Valet program.
If you want to try something a little different in an up and coming part of town, the Freret Street Festival is another option . It’s on the first Saturday every month, at the crossing of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue; only a short walking distance from Southern Comfort Bed and Breakfast. Not only can you dine sumptuously from local restaurants, and peruse artworks for sale, you can also check out the flea market vendors who bring their wares uptown. There’s an eclectic lineup of music every month as well. The next market is a Supermarket on April 7, with four live music stages. And after you shop at the Freret Street Festival, you can stroll up and down the street for more entertainment. Freret Street has become famous of late as “The New Freret,” a neighborhood convenient to uptown universities, with diverse shops, restaurants and bars. There’s a fancy bar that serves artisanal cocktails, Cure; a gourmet hotdog emporium, Dat Dog; a wood-fired pizza restaurant, Ancora Pizzeria and Salumeria, that takes you back to the old country. There’s an old school hardware shop, the usual suspects like yoga studios, a comedy theatre that also holds acting classes, and a bike shop that sells used and new bikes you can use to ride to the next market! If you want to know more about the neighborhood, and your many dining and shopping options there, visit http://thenewfreret.com/.
If you can’t make it uptown, and still want to see some local artwork and crafts indoors, ride your bike or board the streetcar headed downtown to Dutch Alley, another gallery that is a cooperative of local artists and craftspeople located behind the French Market at 912 N. Peters. For a list of artist members, see http://dutchalleyartistsco-op.com/. It’s New Orleans’ largest artist cooperative, with 25 regional artists as members; it’s open seven days a week, with artists staffing the gallery. You’re sure to see something you like.
You might also see something different at RHINO Contemporary Crafts Co., (Right Here in New Orleans), another artists’ cooperative shop in the Shops at Canal Place, at the foot of Canal St. Founded in 1987 as a nonprofit to help foster awareness of Louisiana fine crafts artists and provide educational outreach, RHINO recently moved to spacious new quarters on the second floor of the Shops at Canal Place. Artist members are also there to answer any questions. Don’t forget, both Dutch Alley and RHINO are in tax-free zones, another of Louisiana’s ways of providing incentives for the purchase of Louisiana hand-made items. RHINO Contemporary Crafts Co. – Fine Handmade Crafts in Canal . So go forth and shop!