News coverage by Jesse Baum
The St. Anthony Green Streets project hosted one of their biggest events yet on Tuesday evening (June 7) — an “art parade” to engage the community about the remodels coming to the streets and parks in St. Anthony.
With food trucks, a brass band, information tables, a plant giveaway, and art and activities for children, the art parade was well-attended and festive.
The St. Anthony Green Streets project is part of the Gentilly Resilience District, an initiative funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. With $141.2 million in funding, the Resilience District is a multifaceted set of projects that will bring art, greenery and flood mitigation infrastructure to Gentilly.
The St. Anthony Green Streets project will retrofit roughly 33 residential blocks in the St. Anthony neighborhood, as well as redesign and enhance Filmore and Gatto playgrounds. At the event on Tuesday, residents were able to learn about the St. Anthony Green Streets work coming to their neighborhood, as well as provide feedback on public art coming to other parts of Gentilly.
The completed designs for the St. Anthony Green Streets project have been submitted, and will “hopefully be out to bid soon,” according to Jennifer Snape. Snape is owner and managing partner of Batture LLC, the design lead on the project.
The art parade was staged in two areas one block apart, the Gatto Playground and the Levee Exhibit Hall and Garden, 5000 Warrington Drive.
The Garden was in full bloom, and past the new Young Artist Movement sculpture rose a curious sight — a reflective pane suspended by a crane with trailing streamers and a pendulum.
“It’s a periscope to the future … a starting point to be reconnected to the water,” explained Hannah Chalew, one of the architects/artists who is designing the piece.
Even at the Levee Exhibit Hall and Garden, the water of the London Avenue Canal is hidden behind the levee wall. By looking up at the angled mirror, Chalew said, she and her partner on the project, John Kleinschmidt, hope to reconnect the neighborhood to this water feature in their backyards.
One child, his mouth blue from a sno-ball, told the organizers he didn’t know there was water behind the levee walls.
arent Jermaine Taylor told Kleinschmidt and Chalew he sometimes lifts his child Neya up so that she can see the canal over the walls. He and Neya chatted with Kleinschmidt and Chalew and gazed at the mirror together.
“Today is all about understanding the position [of the mirror]. The next step is talking to folks,” Kleinschmidt said.
When asked how such a tall and spindly sculpture could be storm-proofed, Kleinschmidt answered that a “really good structural engineer” is helping with the design.
At a nearby tent, Gabrielle Tolliver and Erin Barnard of the Young Artist Movement displayed mock-ups of an archway that will also be part of the Resilience District, made with the collaboration of young artists ages 14 to 20. The sculpture will have brightly colored tiles showing different aspects of aquatic ecosystems and living with water.
The lead artist for the sculpture is Kenneth Scott Jr.; this will be his first public sculpture.
“People are really responsive to this project,” said Tolliver, the program coordinator . The archway, once completed, will be temporarily installed at 6601 Franklin Ave. before moving to its permanent home, at the corner of Allen Toussaint and Elysian Fields, in two to five years. At full size, it will be 15 feet wide and 24 feet high.
The festivities were also attended by District D City Councilmember Eugene J. Green.
“It’s nice to see people come out,” he said. “The Resilience District is a national model of how to live with water, and I’m pleased that it’s in my district.”
St. Anthony resident Glenda Diagne lives in the Bastion development, and was similarly happy with the event and projects. “It’s awesome, I’m finding out a lot of things about what they’re doing,” she said.
Her neighbor Ishman Clarke was especially enthusiastic about the new features coming to the parks. “It’s real nice, especially for youth,” said Clarke. “I’ve been here for some years now and we’ve always been excited to see what they’re going to build here.”