PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Hanging Out in the Courtyard,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 12 x 12 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 

WORKING FOR NEARLY A YEAR on a series of paintings inspired by the stately courtyards of New Orleans, Patrick Waldemar‘s work began to shift. With the onset of COVID-19, the artist was isolated. Working with the TV as constant company, daily news coverage of the quarantine, social distancing, and an escalating number of deaths due to the virus, abruptly turned to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

“All of a sudden, even the fountains in my paintings the water started dripping hanging bodies because of course what was happening with Floyd was a form of lynching. It took my mind back to that whole scenario,” Waldemar said during a conversation with CCH Pounder, the actor and avid art collector (see video below). They were in his New Orleans home/studio, social distancing, talking about the new body of work the artist produced for his first exhibition with Stella Jones Gallery.

After closing temporarily due to COVID-19, the Black-owned New Orleans gallery is open again, by appointment only, with “Patrick Waldemar: Courtyards of New Orleans” on view. The exhibition explores “the complexity of race in America, specifically the South and the often untold and painful stories behind the most beautiful facades.”

Waldemar, a Jamaican artist who splits his time between Kingston and New Orleans, said he did one painting with the lynching theme and shared it with Stella Jones. He said her response was “stop with the gardens and concentrate on protest.”

He took her advice and was motivated by both the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement and the underlying racial tensions in New Orleans, where the neighborhoods are segregated and the old courtyards and the elegant lush gardens within them have not been welcoming spaces, historically. In fact, French Quarter courtyards were among the many venues where slaves were sold in the city, during the first half of the 19th century.

“All of a sudden, even the fountains in my paintings the water started dripping hanging bodies because of course what was happening with Floyd was a form of lynching.” — Patrick Waldemar


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “New Arrival,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


Artist Patrick Waldemar previews his exhibition with CCH Pounder, in advance of its opening at Stella Jones Gallery in downtown New Orleans. | Courtesy Stella Jones Gallery

 

Blending landscapes, figuration, and cultural symbolism, the artist’s watercolor paintings depict seemingly traditional scenes. Waldemar uses calming greens and muted blues to fill his backgrounds with abstracted trees. Shades of brown render Black bodies. The red, white, and blue of the American flag is evoked representing the protections of justice and freedom.

“One of the paintings I did before, you look at it and it looks like a nice country scene of somebody’s sheets hanging blowing slightly in the wind,” Waldemar said in the video. “But when you look closely at the three sheets, they all have eye holes in them.… If you look in the background of the quote unquote yard are trees with bodies and that sort of thing on it.”

Pounder, who stars on “NCIS: New Orleans,” said she was really struck by the painting. “It’s a horrifying painting, I have to say, because it is so pastoral, such a peaceful painting to look at. And then to really look at it, when you see all the things that start to appear, it’s almost like the painting has a life of its own, in the sense, that it comes to life for you… Those dark shadows from the trees are not hanging moss. They’re people,” Pounder said.

“It really is like sort of a stunner and a bit of a shocker to see right away.… It’s interesting from my perspective to see someone who says let me give you a chance to really come into this painting and explore it, as opposed to one that’s right in your face.… This one forces you to think about things.” CT

 

“Patrick Waldemar: Courtyards of New Orleans” is on view at Stella Jones Gallery in New Orleans, Aug. 1-Sept. 28, 2020. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m, currently by appointment only

 

FIND MORE about Patrick Waldemar on his website

READ MORE about Stella Jones and her eponymous gallery on Culture Type

 

FIND MORE Artworks from CCH Pounder’s collection are displayed in her New Orleans home and have recently been on view in museums—the Wright Museum in Detroit, and works focusing on womanhood and manhood at Xavier University’s gallery in New Orleans

 


CCH Pounder visits with artist Patrick Waldemar to learn more about the challenging images embedded in his new series of paintings about the courtyards of New Orleans. | Video by Patrick Waldemar

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Dirty Laundry,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Knee Pads,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Hanging Out in the Garden,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “In the Corner,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 12 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Forbidden Fruit,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Amelia,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 20 x 26 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Red, White, and Blue,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 12 x 12 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Season of the Dragonfly,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “All Sales Final,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 20 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “And the Knee Bones Connected to the Brain Bone,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “At the Andindra Ironworks,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 12 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Take Them Home,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 12 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 


PATRICK WALDEMAR, “Weeping Angel,” 2020 (watercolor on paper, 14 x 16 inches). | © Patrick Waldemar, Courtesy the Artist and Stella Jones Gallery

 

SUPPORT CULTURE TYPE
Do you enjoy and value Culture Type? Please consider supporting its ongoing production by making a donation. Culture Type is a solo editorial project that requires countless hours and expense to research, report, write, and produce. To help sustain it, make a one-time donation or sign up for a recurring monthly contribution. It only takes a minute. Many Thanks for Your Support.