Champagne, art, and gallery hopping. Could your night get any better?
New Orleans’ monthly art walks are a popular way to immerse yourself in local, contemporary art. You’ll get to view a variety of works ranging from famous to lesser-known artists. During an art walk, the galleries are free to the public and hold receptions with free wine, champagne, and beer. You can take your drink around the galleries so you can peruse with your booze. Just remember to bring cash to tip the bartenders.
The First Saturday Gallery Opening is the most popular art walk in the city. It takes place from 6-9 pm on Julia Street, in the Warehouse District, on the first Saturday of every month. These are self-guided tours where you can pop into any gallery that catches your attention. There is a lot of variety in the style and mediums of the art, so every room is a refreshing sensory overload. There are many galleries, which can feel overwhelming at first, but if you follow the crowds you’re sure to stumble into a great show. All the galleries also have Instagram accounts so that you can stay connected.
The art isn’t the only entertainment; the people-watching can be just as fun. The crowd that the First Saturday art walk draws can only be described with one word: eclectic. Be prepared to see wacky artists, high-brow art buyers, and tipsy art-loving students all mingling in one space. The artists are also very approachable and are happy to talk to you about their pieces. Gallery hopping is a great way to meet people and become a part of the New Orleans art community.
The other notable art walk is the Second Saturday walk on St. Claude in the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods. It takes place on the second Saturday of every month from 6-9 pm. This art walk is much more alternative than First Saturdays. It features funkier art and even funkier people. This art scene is more bohemian, avant-garde, and at times interactive. There are traditional galleries but also artist-run collectives, craft boutiques, and music venues that have openings going on. They also have free refreshments and you should bring cash to tip these bartenders as well.
The St. Claude area is more off the beaten path, so if you aren’t familiar, this is a great way to become acquainted. The venues are fewer and more spread out but don’t be intimidated, because there will be plenty of people around. Some cool places to check out are The Good Children Gallery, Art Garage, the UNO Gallery, and the Siberia Lounge.
Art walks are a great way to leave the Uptown bubble and get to know different neighborhoods of the city. After you’ve toured the galleries, you can then enjoy the rich nightlife and restaurants of the Warehouse District and the Marigny. You don’t have to have any experience with art to become a part of the burgeoning New Orleans art scene. Just go in with curiosity and a sense for fun and you’ll have a blast and maybe discover the next Basquiat.