NOLA Mural Mystery . . . Solved

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The commercial properties along Airline Highway leading to NOLA were badly flooded in Katrina. One store, AMA Distributors (they sell pool tables, pinball machines and top quality poker chips), put up a plywood wall as they rebuilt their store. One day, this plywood wall got painted white. Then some sketches were drawn on this white fence. Then the sketches were painted and a beautiful mural emerged. Every time I’d pass it, I’d slow down and admire this NOLA-inspired mural. I loved it. It honored our music, our great chefs, our landmarks.

This mural was completed before I had a digital camera, and so I’d ask Captain Sarcastic over and over to go take its picture. He never did. Time passed, and I’d find myself taking Airline Highway just to pass this thing. It always made me feel good. My in-laws came to town and I took them to see it. My MIL snapped two pictures of it. I recently asked my MIL about those two pictures and she had not recalled even taking them but promised to look for them.

Then AMA Distributors reopened and the mural came down. I was so sad to see it go and was a touch pissed at CS for never having got its picture. I still pass that strip of Airline regularly and I miss the mural every time.

Yesterday, my MIL e-mailed me the pics; she had located them. This renewed my curiosity about the mural–who did it? what became of it? So yesterday afternoon, I called AMA Distributors to inquire about the mural; the call was disappointing but did give me a few leads. The woman who answered told me that all she remembered was that the artist’s name was Neville and that Frank Davis did a piece on it. I then e-mailed Frank Davis. He recalled doing the piece but did not know what had become of the mural.

Since then, I have been googling “Neville mural NOLA artist” in every possible combination to learn the identity of the artist. Then a weird thing happened.

CS and I went to the NOLA art market today at Palmer Park. The page Pete and I posted of the Fore!Kids fleur de lis came up (as did the new website for the streetcar art project). So when I got home, I clicked on my fleur de lis page and was admiring all those beautiful pieces of art. And then I saw it, a name. Larry Nevil. Nevil instead of Neville? Could it be? I googled Larry Nevil and found pieces of his art and it is unmistakable that the mural that I had so come to love was his work! All this time, I’ve been premiering a piece of his art on my own website while unwittingly admiring another! This year old mystery that I finally got serious about yesterday is today solved. It’s just too weird.

I am stunned. And delighted. I will call Mr. Nevil to learn what became of his lovely mural. In the meantime, enjoy the two quick snapshots of it (that do not do it justice) that my mother-in-law took of it:

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