New Orleans is frequently referred to as a pot of gumbo, having an assortment of various cultures, lifestyles, and customs. Famous streets like Bourbon are known for its nightlife and Magazine is known for its endless businesses and establishments. Poydras is taking the scene with twenty-foot sculptures that catch your eye as soon as you turn the corner. As of June 2, 2016, giant birds can be found standing tall and making history due to The Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition presented by the Helis Foundation. The exhibition began shortly after Hurricane Katrina by artist and sculptor Michael Manjarris with the sole mission of uplifting the people of New Orleans with art and history. The public artwork encourages imagination to take flight and advocate for individuals to join in the art world.
The new installment called the “Avian Avatars” joins the collective artwork called “Myth Makers” compromised by the creative duo Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein, who are known for their public art displays in cities like New York City and Muskegon in Michigan. These sculptures are making a stand and grabbing the attention of the locals and tourists. Five twenty-foot tall bird sculptures comprised of saplings, wire ties, and found objects make their debut along Poydras and it’s crossing streets. These birds take human personality and become a part of the community. Artist and coordinator of the project, Michael Manjarris says, “What was once an industrial warehouse district is now becoming a world class, open air art museum. We understand how art can invigorate neighborhoods, adding to the quality of life in New Orleans.” Manjarris knew that these sculptures would excite the people and motivate artistic endeavors.
The first bird is called “The Realist”, located on Poydras and Galvez Street. The red tail Hawks, most common of the raptors, demands attention and is known for their ambition and competitive nature. Strength and desire drive these birds to achieve goals and become a part of history. The Hawk is the warrior of the community ready for any obstacle and challenge. The second bird is referred to as “The Great Spirit", located on Poydras between South Galvez and South Johnson Street. This spiritual and observant bird is the owl, which sees all and embraces the positives and negatives aspects of humanity. The owl seeks to find the best version of an individual while hoping to tap into the spiritual characteristics as well. The owl is like the Shaman or Giver, a wise man who advises and passes down stories and heritage to the younger generations to keep the culture alive. The third bird announced is “The Scold”, found on Poydras between South Johnson and South Prieur Street. The crow is the chatterbox of them all, waiting to hear the gossip and be a part of the conversation. Very edgy and desires to hold the attention and ear of the audience. The smallest sculpture of the newest installments but not the least important. The pigeon, also known as “The Tourist” is the fourth bird of the installment. Located on Poydras between South Prieur and Bertrand Street, the pigeon is common and down to earth, seeking adventure and experience. This bird is lively and excited for new adventures through traveling and experiencing the world around them. The final bird on display is, “The Taste Maker”, located on Poydras and Bolivar Street. The falcon is sophisticated and logical seeking knowledge and truth of the world. All the birds are important to the community and have a purpose in the world.
William Cannings, an England native also released his art to the world, which is located on Poydras and Carondelet. “Stacked V” consists of five four-foot tall steel squares, incorporating his unique and technique of utilizing the effects of compressed air on permanent materials such as aluminum and steel. This alluring and desiring sculpture is appealing to the eye and has the ability to move to change the composition of color and reflection. These sculptures are great additions to the culture of New Orleans. Next time when trying to find an activity to partake in on a beautiful afternoon, take a stroll on Poydras and enrich yourself in the art and history.