Robert Rodriguez fineartprintsca

The art and interests of Robert Rodriguez

Month: May, 2014

Discovering the New Orleans Lakefront Airport


Restored Lakefront Airport Lobby

Restored Lakefront Airport Lobby

Growing up in New Orleans, I didn’t see anything unless an adult was going there.  We never went to the Lakefront Airport.  When I finally was driving myself, there was no reason to go there.  There was only this ugly sixties style building that had never been in style, even when it was new.  I did go once to see the “Fountain of the Winds” by Enrique Alferez, which always seemed to be so completely out of place next to that monstrosity of a terminal.  But yesterday, online, I saw this fantastic sculpture that I discovered had been hidden since the early sixties by concrete panels they had added to make the terminal into a bomb shelter!  Who knew?

The airport was built during Huey Long’s administration in the mid-1930’s, and designed by the same architect that did the Louisiana state capital building.  The capital building in Baton Rouge is hard to beat…maybe Nebraska’s is a little more exciting to fans of Art Deco, but it is a toss up.  So this airport is a pretty amazing place.  And the people that are restoring it seem to be doing a very classy job of it.  The airport was one of the first major terminals of the period.  On their website, they have an interview with a woman whose father took her on a commercial flight departing from Shushan Airport (the original name).  Even as a child, she was impressed by the splendor of the terminal building. During their flight the weather was so bad, they had to make an emergency landing in Atlanta.  She describes how the airport workers escorted them across the field with umbrellas, into their terminal, which was a small clapboard house.  The contrast between the two buildings had stuck with her all these years.

So, this is something I have just found out about.  I will make a trip to see what is going on, and if possible I will post some more pictures.  I do know they are renting the building for special events, and it was used in the movie The Green Lantern as the headquarters of the Ferris Aircraft Company.  Now I will have to rent that movie.

Exterior Sculpture at Lakefront Airport

Exterior Sculpture on the facade at Lakefront Airport

Enrique Alferez Fountain  Enrique Alferez “Fountain of the Winds” at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport


WPA Hurricane Memorial

Memorial in Islamorada, Florida designed by the Federal Art Project, 1937

Memorial in Islamorada, Florida designed by the Federal Art Project, 1937

A little history…in 1932 some 43,000 marchers (about 17,000 were WWI veterans and their families) camped out in Washington, D.C. demanding early payment of their military bonuses.  The Depression had been running its course for a few years and most of these people were desperate for their money.  President Hoover ordered the military in, and the whole thing situation went to hell.  This was one of the reasons for Hoover’s defeat by Roosevelt a year later.  When confronted by another Bonus March soon after his election, Roosevelt offered them the chance to work for the CCC , which most of them accepted.  So in 1935, when one of the strongest hurricanes in US history was approaching the Florida Keys, there were about 400 Bonus Army veterans and their families living in ramshackle camps that no one thought to evacuate until the last minute.  A train was sent to save them on September 2, the hurricane struck on September 2, the train was destroyed on September 2, en route, with only the locomotive surviving and managing to arrive hours later to save the workers.  The Florida Division of the Federal Arts Project designed this memorial to hold the ashes of the 200 victims of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane.

I was looking for photos of hurricanes from space, as reference for my Tales of the Cocktail poster, and came across this amazing story and amazing bas-relief carving.