Fighting Poverty with Passion
|“After a year and 10 months nearly, the Ogden Museum is still an oasis in the chaos, and a garden in the cultural efflorescence of New Orleans. This report will focus on personal relationships:
The nicest thing: we have fine people on security; I’m always addressed by Peter, the supervisor as Colonel Mike! and we exchange salutes. Peter used to be a DJ called the Ghost. I hadn’t seen Brandi (also ex-military) in a while and she yelled up to me, ‘hey how are you!?’ I said ‘good,’ flatly. And she said “NO YOU’RE NOT!” Like wow, I can’t even bullshit the security guard! She gave me a hug later.
The funniest thing: I usually eat lunch on the terrace with it’s great views of the Robert E. Lee statue and the Crescent City Connection but it was raining the other day. Brad, the registrar who I report to mainly, was saying “I once shared a flat with a Chilean poet in Greece, and…” Libra, the music curator and tech goddess, interrupted mid-sentence with: “OF COURSE YOU DID BRADLEY!” We all burst out. As he got up to leave he hit her on the head to which she grimaced sweetly so he gave her a little kiss on her curly red noggin.
The most gracious word: I was working with artist Rasheeda Ferdinand to hang clay pieces (180) in 12 strands made by students at the Matas School in Jeff. Parish. She hung her own work and I hung these in the education gallery. All 12 were meant to be hung evenly spaced but when I got to the end, I discovered an error in my math! Each piece need moved over 2 inches (and so, 4, 6, 8 etc…) So I took them all the down, at 5:10 pm to make it perfect. (The curator once described me to the director of the Lyle Bonge foundation as “wonderfully obsessive.”) But Brad and Kate, the education director came in asked how it was going? Neither wanted me to change anything, esp. with less than an hour and students coming in early the next day. So Brad persuaded me to wait, I agreed it was “an able compromise.” The next day, David, the curator and my supervisor complimented me on the show, he said it was great, and even the director of the George Ohr museum of pottery in Biloxi enjoyed it.
The most transformative thing: last March, I had a falling out with Richard, the preparator responsible for hanging the main shows. At 8:45 am he took the drill from my hand, said I was incompetent that all I should do was paint and make labels. David, wisely, then, gave me sole responsibility for the education gallery. It took about 4 months of not speaking, or only somewhat angrily, before R. loosened up again. And last week, he said, “man, I don’t know what we’re going to do without you.” On Saturday, Richard had curated a photography show at the Homespace gallery on St. Roch. He almost missed the entire opening due to the flooding. When I got there, I called, learned he was stranded on Carrolton and went to pick him up. I drove on Claiborne’s neutral ground and then through a foot or two of water, just made it! with many around who did not. He called me the hero of the day, the good samaritan. I also that night helped two others through the pouring rain and no taxis.
In between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is wonderful to have and to share these encouraging moments. God bless y’all in serving.” – Michael Barr, AmeriCorps VISTA Member