Tom Piazza author of “Why New Orleans Matters” says that the people in the Crescent City are the nicest you will meet in any other southern town in America. Well, I have to give Piazza my thumbs up for that because my morning photo/bike adventure reveled just that.
Everyone in NOLA has a white smile upon their face and willingness to help out no matter what.
Welmon The Artist is just an example of such cordiality…
I met him this morning, a god-given sunny Tuesday when, after my morning jog I decided to gear-up and jump on my bike for a casual stroll up and down the French Quarter and the Foubourg Marigny just around the corner from the Kerlerec Estate.
I was looking for some fun shots of colorful houses and peopled dressed up in Saints’ clothing preparing for the big Sunday Super Bowl game.
But, then, on Frenchmen street, here comes this old, black guy with no lens in his glasses asking me in his thick southern drawl all sorts of questions about who I was and what magazine I was shooting for.
For how he was dressed up, I thought he was a beggar asking for money, but his smile capture my heart and my attention. So, I listen…and listened to him telling me tales of his painting career and how I should google his name to understand he was not kiddin’ when he said “I am known for using this (pointing at his pencil) on paper; look me up and you will know!”
Well, one chat lead to the other and he charmed me into taking his photo.
And voila`…the best shot of the day came out (not sure what I am going to do with it, but it’s always good practice).
Later, I got home and googled him. His name is Welmon Sharlhorne and he is a painter indeed who spent 17 in the Angola prison here in New Orleans and started making his paintings with ink on manila envelopes glued together.
Now, he is no Picasso, neither his fellow co-citizen Degas, but he is a fun looking guy with a fiery tongue and a passion for drawing, and I have a photo of him now.
This is how things roll in enchanting New Orleans. I wonder what shall I expect from tomorrow. The Gods of the Carnival will tell soon enough.