Life, Love, and Art in the French Quarter
An extraordinary recollection of how an artist lived and worked in the French Quarter before its gentrification
In the early twentieth century, the French Quarter had become home to a vibrant community of working artists attracted to the atmosphere, architecture, and colorful individuals who populated the scene (and who also became some of its first preservationists). Louisiana native Rolland Golden was one of these artists to live, work, and raise a family in this most storied corner of New Orleans. With 94 black-and-white and 54 color photographs and illustrations, his memoir of that life focuses on the period of 1955 to 1976. Golden, a painter, discusses the particular challenges of making a living from art, and his story becomes a family affair involving his daughters and his beloved wife, Stella.
Golden's studio sat in a patio on Royal Street, around the corner from Preservation Hall where old-time musicians played Dixieland Jazz. Golden sketched and painted many of them in a visual style that encompassed realism and gradually developed into abstract realism. Golden recalls work that he did in historic preservation, sketching architecture for publications such as the Vieux Carré Courier, and he discusses his studies with renowned regionalist painter John McCrady. The artist frankly discusses his experiences with the display, representation, and sale of his work, presenting a little-explored and yet crucial part of a working artist's life. The memoir concludes with Golden and his wife traveling to the premiere of his exhibition in Moscow, having been selected by a Russian envoy as the only American artist to have a one-man touring exhibition in the former Soviet Union. Among the nearly 150 black-and-white and color illustrations are never-before-seen photos and sketches by the artist.
Rarely is a great artist also a great writer, but Rolland Golden is an exception. His new memoir about living and working in the French Quarter in the 1950s and '60s is a joy to read. It evocatively chronicles the challenges and pleasures of an artist's life, pursuing a creative career and raising a family in the bohemian heart of one of America's most eccentric, beautiful, and decadent cities.- E. John Bullard, director emeritus, New Orleans Museum of Art
Rolland Golden: Life, Love, and Art in the French Quarter is the story of Golden's career from the early 1950s and his art studies with acclaimed regionalist painter John McCrady to 1976 and his triumphant one-artist show in the former Soviet Union. It is a personal memoir that reveals intimate thoughts about life in the New Orleans French Quarter, his struggles and growing success as an artist, his passion for the southern landscape and history, and most importantly, the love and devotion of his wife, Stella. Golden describes standing in what is now the New Orleans Museum of Art as an art student in the 1950s in awe of the masters. Yet, he could not have known then that some fifty years later that same museum and others would honor him with major exhibitions of his work. Golden's narrative gives compelling insight into the 'life, love, and art' of one of the city's most accomplished artists--one who has taught us how to truly see the ordinary world around us.- John R. Kemp, New Orleans correspondent for ARTnews magazine, art columnist for Louisiana Life, and author of Rolland Golden: Journeys of a Southern Artist and Katrina: Days of Terror, Months of Anguish: Paintings by Rolland Golden