Monday, January 19, 2015

Embracing the Dream


This is a sculpture at the corner of Oretha Castle Haley and Martin Luther King Boulevards by the late artist, Frank Hayden. It was installed in 1976 as a monument to Martin Luther King Jr.
Frank Hayden (1934-1988) shared these words during the unveiling of his ten-foot tall sculpture honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in August 1976. Hayden’s abstract egg shape with arms and hands revealed was met with mixed reactions. It was reported that many in attendance expected a life-size statue of Dr. King. Hayden explained “the shape represents life and growth, and the arms and hands are reaching out for brotherhood.” Inside the egg form are passages from Dr. King's speeches, and there is a bullet hole to commemorate Dr. King's assassination.


I took these photos back in 2006.  Since that time, this corner.. along with the rest of the OCH corridor, has seen some changes thanks to a variety of revitalization efforts.. as well as the beginnings of the gentrification process in Central City.

One very high profile project involves the Gators department store on the left in the above photograph which is being redeveloped into the New Orleans Jazz Market opening this spring.
The extensive renovation/construction project to convert a long-dormant former department store into a sleek center for modern jazz is scheduled to be completed in early 2015. Plans call for the New Orleans Jazz Market to house a 360-seat performance venue, a rehearsal room and an archive of New Orleans jazz. The market will host educational programs and performances by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and others.

Founded in 2002, the nonprofit NOJO was modeled in part after the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York, intended to be a permanent performing arts institution devoted to building an industry for jazz in the city where the music originated.
When I took these photos I also took some of a mural facing the monument from the side of a building on MLK Boulevard.

King mural

The mural, titled "Embracing the Dream" by artist Bruce "Shakor" White,  offered a commentary on the sculpture.



Last year, the building began undergoing renovations leading to the mural's removal from the wall. Gambit's "Blake Pontchartrain" explains.
Display windows have been installed where the murals used to be and passersby now can see local artists' works on display inside. The Labats say the two Shakur murals are in a secure place. Possible plans for the murals have been discussed, including one to display them on the third floor of the building. Connie Labat says the renovated building will feature live music, films and theater — and will always have art displayed.
That's nice, I guess.  Still it's a shame that the mural, which was such a great companion piece to the sculpture, had to be removed from the adjoining outdoor space. 

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