See this and other Garden District landscapes filled with custom-designed, larger-than-life art installations during PRC’s Holiday Home Tour presented by McEnery Residential on Dec. 11-12.
When Janet and Scott Howard first moved into their circa-1857 center hall home, the spacious yard was filled with trees and a patch of bamboo. “It almost made for a forest,” Scott said.
There were hackberry trees and other volunteer plants that came up on their own. “It had a country charm that we liked,” he said.
But then Hurricane Katrina roared into town, and the storm’s winds “flattened the yard,” Scott said. “We were faced with the opportunity and the need to reimagine that space.” The Howards engaged designer Michael McClung of Four Seasons Landscape to help them create a multi-dimensional outdoor space.
The side and back yards now are a beautifully designed set of garden rooms, with a vegetable and flower-cutting garden near the driveway, a formal pond with a fountain off the patio, and a manicured croquet lawn, complete with overhead lighting so matches can stretch into the evenings.
Janet enjoys the vegetable garden and flower beds, recently installing paths to make it easier to tend to the space. Scott loves the croquet lawn.
“When I lived in England 50 years ago, I decided to buy a top-of-the-line croquet set at Harrods,” Scott said. “I hauled it around with me during all the years and always wanted to install a croquet lawn. Janet thought it was silly, but I finally wore her out.”
The lawn is set up for an English croquet course. “I like to teach people a version of croquet known as golf croquet created by the Egyptians,” Scott said. “We have a lot of fun playing. People can learn pretty quickly, and you don’t have to be expert at it.”
The Howards love having family and friends over for a game. They recently donated a “cocktails and croquet” experience to support the nonprofit organization SOUL, which plants trees, maintains green infrastructure and provides other environmental programs throughout the city.
Photo by Charles E. Leche
While revealing it is inspired by “fantastical, transformation and whimsy,” multi-disciplinary artist Breanna Thompson is keeping her installation for the PRC’s Art & Garden Holiday Home Tour a bit of a secret.
“I’ll just say that you’ll definitely want to be there during the cocktail hour,” she said of what tour attendees will see at 1208 Eighth St.
Thompson has built a career as a freelance art director and production designer, painter, graphic designer and carpenter. She recently joined the New Orleans chapter of the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees as a scenic artist. She even utilizes welding in her personal projects, which can be seen on her website www.BTart.org.
“I work in multiple mediums and have never really wanted to choose a primary,” she said. “I really enjoy the variety I’ve cultivated. It gives me the ability to speak multiple ‘languages’ in my processes, and it’s helpful when I’m working on set.”
Thompson served as an art director for “My Father’s Son,” which was a selection of the Louisiana Film Prize, and “Pillars,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and now can be seen on the Criterion Channel at www.criterionchannel.com/pillars.
She’s also worked with various clients on graphic design projects and collaborated with artist Brandon Odoms on his “Exhibit Be” exhibition, amongst many other artistic projects. This year, her piece “Living Room,” an interactive installation of outdoor couches, was selected for the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition’s Art for Bikeways grant.
Her pieces and projects allow Thompson to discuss “the metaphysical, examining form and place through various media. In welding steel poles end-to-end and weaving them through each other, I discuss collective existence and individual perception. Throwing paint at my substrate, I examine the exertion of control on what is essentially chaos,” she said, adding that in her latest artwork she is “looking for ways to integrate technology and explore portals.”
Thompson first created art as a child and was known to leave various projects around the house starting at age 4, according to her mom’s stories. Working in her father’s Treme auto body shop, Trepagnier’s, taught her about automotive body repairs and painting, she said.
Drives around the city with her dad, also were influential, as he pointed out places that had fond memories for him. “The architecture here, with its many points of origin, has influenced my desire to marry different media,” Thompson said. “There’s such a rich history in Bulbancha, the Choctaw name for New Orleans before it was New Orleans. That story is recorded in our architecture and in our ever-changing landscape. It’s important to be able to reference those illustrations.”
Her talents go beyond visual art: Thompson played violin at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, as well as in the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. When her daughter was born during her junior year of high school, she stepped back from advanced placement classes and studied art and photography instead.
One of her teachers encouraged her creativity and hired her to be a second photographer on some of his shoots. When she enrolled at Xavier University, she continued working as a part-time photographer. That led her to the school’s art department and the decision to take an art elective. She changed her major from chemistry to art the next semester.
“Whether I’m working out an idea that has come to me, difficult emotions on a set, or making a mess in my mom’s living room, art has always been my default setting,” Thompson said.
The PRC’s 46th annual Holiday Home Tour presented by McEnery Residential is back with a fresh new format for this year!
VIDEO SERIES and
ART & GARDEN TOUR