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December 07 , 2009

New Orleans In My Mind


In "New Orleans In My Mind," the fourth volume of the series, "El Artista: A Lifetime of Curiosity," eighty-seven-year-old artist Dan Wetta goes deep into his recollections of childhood in New Orleans and his education through high school and the first two years of college at St. Joseph's, a Benedictine seminary and monastery, during the 1930s and 40s. His mother and Aunt Mae had sent him to the seminary to become a priest. Aunt Mae's son, Blaise, did become a New Orleans parish priest, but life turned out differently for the author. He had been on a path to be a Benedictine teaching monk. However, seeing that he could spend the rest of his life in a tiny monastery room, the author left the seminary and joined the Army. While stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, he met his wife, Martha. Dan Wetta's life then became rich with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The author recounts his childhood and shows his paintings depicting life in New Orleans in those days.
In the 1980s and 90s, Dan Wetta did a series of sketches and paintings of a fishing community near New Orleans called Bucktown. He documented through his art life in Bucktown. That is a poignant series of paintings in this volume, because in 2005, Hurricane Katrina wiped Bucktown off the map. What the author painted no longer exists.
Much of Dan Wetta's art is done from memory. The artist realizes that it is his memory and his imagination that recreates what he saw and felt. But in an amusing series of sketches and paintings in which his memory changed over the years, the author shows that what we remember and what others remember do not always jive.
Life in New Orleans from long ago, plus a mixture of more current work, is splashed on one wonderful canvas in this volume of "New Orleans In My Mind."

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