New Orleans has always been a city of makers. From the craftsmen who forged the lacy wrought-iron balconies in the French Quarter, to the chefs whose alchemy continues to fuel one of the world’s great cuisines, to the musicians who created the heartbeat of jazz, this is a city of outside-the-box thinkers and doers.
All of which makes New Orleans a great place to buy local art — an experience that is as important to connecting with the Crescent City as touring the neighborhood of Tremé or eating beignets by the Mississippi River.
Tap Into a Hotbed of Artistic Expression
For the savvy consumer, buying local in New Orleans isn’t just about picking up a pound of PJ’s Coffee or selecting produce from a Louisiana farmer. New Orleans is a hotbed of artistic expression, a place where the boundaries and definition of art are always fluid.
Here, you can make a difference and support the local art community by buying, gifting and collecting homegrown art. Sold at festivals and many independent neighborhood shops, local art is a fixture at ongoing markets in parks and reclaimed industrial spaces all over town.
More good news: Original, one-of-a-kind works of visual art are exempt from local and state sales tax in New Orleans. Jumpstart your collection at any or all of these funky, fabulous spots.
To Market, To Market
An oasis of creativity on one of the most popular music streets in town, the evenings-only Frenchmen Art Market offers a welcome respite from throngs of club-goers. Duck out of the crowd and ogle masks and costumes, jewelry, and fanciful creations made with dazzling bits of feather, bone and sequins.
Located uptown in Palmer Park, The Arts Market New Orleans is the granddaddy of them all, with some 80 local and Gulf Coast artists showcasing textiles, jewelry, sculpture and painted inspiration across a swathe of lovely green space. There are also good nibbles, plus space for the kids to run around. It is typically held on the last Saturday of the month, but sometimes festivals get in the way, so double check.
Also uptown, Freret Market takes place on the first Saturday of the month (except during June, July and August) at the intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue. A pioneering force in the area’s revitalization, this eclectic gathering is equal parts creative, flea and food.
Leading a similar charge in Central City, OCH Market, named for area thoroughfare Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, draws a lively crowd with wearable art, photography, paintings and more on the second Saturday of each month.
From Choctaw Trading Post to Souvenir Haven
Finally, wander down Esplanade toward the river on the quiet side of the French Quarter and you’ll run into the French Market, a beehive of vendors, artists and food stands that offer all manner of delectables.
The market, originally a Choctaw trading post dating back to 1791, once attracted French trappers, seafood hawkers and more than a few rowdy sailors to its riverside hub. Open daily, this six-block open-air colonnade of produce, souvenirs and freshly prepared local dishes is always a lively scene.
Drink to This Art
And if you’re not already full, lay down your new wares and grab a seat at Artisan Café in the Marigny on St. Claude Avenue. This sweet, friendly spot features excellent bar food, and everything is made from scratch. A colorful and rotating array of local masterpieces adorn the walls, prices are reasonable, and, after a few drinks, you won’t be able to resist handing over your credit card.