Grand center hall home’s garden transformed by artist Marcus Brown

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.

Click here for tickets and more tour details.

This grand center hall home was built in 1870 by Frederick Wing, a well-known builder who lived in the house with his wife and daughters until 1872, when it was sold to William Randolph. In 1879, the property changed hands again back to the Wing family, this time to Frederick’s daughter Eliza.

Ownership of the home was transferred within the family for several years and eventually sold in 1931 to Dr. Rawley Pence, a local physician with Ochsner Hospital. In 1974, Dr. Howard Russel and his family bought the property, and “local lore is that their children played football in the yard with the Manning boys,” the current homeowners said.

The home went through a few other sales before the current owners purchased it seven years ago. The family was attracted to the neighborhood’s “character and beauty,” and to a giant live oak tree that frames a shady patio at the back of the house.

The home also has a large, private side yard, which the homeowners renovated to make it more family friendly. “When we bought the home, the yard was rock and gravel,” the homeowners said. “We completely changed the yard to make it softer, more lush, inviting, and to create a gathering place for our family and friends.”

For the interior home renovation, the homeowners worked with Brian Bockman and Jack Forbes of Bockman Forbes Design. For the exterior, they engaged Kim Alvarez at Landscape Images and Gulf South Pools.

Photo by Charles E. Leche




The artist: Marcus Brown

The first time artist Marcus Brown left his native New Orleans, he was confused by the homogeneous houses he saw. “I thought the rest of the world was like New Orleans,” he said of the city’s diverse housing stock.

“We should preserve our city’s houses and our people. Without the architecture and many groups of people that make our culture special, we are just another city in America,” he said. “New Orleans is definitely one of the most valuable living museums in the country.”

Brown grew up in Mid-City and Uptown watching his grandmother paint, which inspired his desire to draw at a young age. After attending Warren Easton High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, he studied at Kansas City Art Institute, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and Portland State University, earning a Master of Education degree.

Brown is now a sculptor, painter, educator, inventor, musician and an avant-garde sound performance artist who has shown his work across the United States and internationally. He also is a NOCCA faculty member. His artwork, which can be seen at, is “inspired by many pre-Colonial practices of indigenous peoples from all over the world,” Brown said.

“The idea that art was a part of life and survival versus a part of decoration is the most soul satisfying to me,” he added. “I find that music, dance and visual arts of all types inspire my work in the end.”

Brown has developed a form of painting called Electro-Sonic Painting, where he paints with an amplified brush or tool used to simultaneously create a work of art, as well as music.

“I invented and created these devices, and they can be considered sculptures in their own right,” he said, adding that he usually does not show them in public “because they are my personal sculptures or objects for ceremonies.”

Brown records and samples his own sounds, using traditional and nontraditional instruments, “to create libraries of data that my Electro-Sonic Painting instruments can retrieve sounds from,” he said.

“My practice requires me to invent new types of devices to use in my performances or ceremonies. Much like traditional musicians, I practice my instruments and record works of music,” he added.

Brown exhibits his artwork internationally, including in a recent show in Krakow, Poland, with artist Marek Batorski. His pieces also have been shown alongside works by notable visual artists, such as Andy Warhol.

Creating his Electro-Sonic Painting, Brown also has collaborated with musicians including Fred Thomas, known for his work as James Brown’s bassist, as well as musicians Slyvester “Snap” Andrews, Eric Gold, Doug Garrison, Bill Summers, Brian Seeger, Cliff Hines, Khari Allen Lee, Devin Phillips, Mark De Florio, Chuck Barber and many more.

In 2008, Brown received an Art in Public Places commission by the Arts Council of New Orleans in collaboration with the Joan Mitchell Foundation for his piece, Human Universal Musical Sculpture (HUMS). The sound sculpture — located in Washington Square Park on Elysian Fields Avenue — interacts with an individual’s bioelectrical currents to produce a unique sound.

Recently, he created a high-tech sculpture for JAMNOLA, called the Adinkrahene Sound Wall. Shaped like a huge metal bull’s-eye, the interactive piece emits musical tones when a hand is waved in front of it.

“The focus is on the human element — you,” he said.

His sculpture on Seventh Street for the PRC’s Art & Garden Holiday Home Tour also will have an interactive element. “I am creating a sculpture that focuses on reflection and interaction,” Brown said. “The inspiration for the piece comes from the human experience. It aims to remind us of our connection to one another as humans.

“I plan to also present some of my Electro-sonic Paintings and do a performance or ceremony to produce one,” he added.


The PRC’s 46th annual Holiday Home Tour presented by McEnery Residential is back with a fresh new format for this year!

Dec. 11-12

Learn more & buy your tickets today!