Brightening the post-Katrina landscape

March 12, 2013 9:00 AM

Fran Simon

As one of the service projects for the Wave of Green Day of Service, on April 1, Tulane faculty and staff members will help alumnus Frank Lemann install artwork on abandoned homes.


Frank Lemann

Tulane alumnus Frank Lemann, director of the Community Art Program for United Saints, is leading the installation of artwork on abandoned homes. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Lemann, who received an art history degree from Tulane in 1980, is director of the Community Art Program of the United Saints Recovery Project, a nonprofit service organization located in the Central City neighborhood that is the focus of the Wave of Green service day this year.

United Saints launched the art project in the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood, where scores of homes were relocated to make room for the new Veterans Administration Medical Center now under construction in the Mid-City area of New Orleans.

“I was looking for the next thing to do with my life,” says Lemann, a New Orleans native who for 20 years lived in New York City where he worked as an art consultant, art gallery director and real estate agent selling historic townhouses. After Hurricane Katrina, Lemann decided to return to New Orleans. “I found this [volunteer] job listed on Craigslist,” he explains.

Lemann, coordinating with KidsmART and Bevery Cook at McMain High School, is working with teachers in local area public and charter schools whose students in grades 3 through 12 are creating art on whitewashed plywood. Tulane faculty and staff members will affix the fresh paintings over the windows and doors of homes that are falling into ruin. The boards will brighten the neighborhood while protecting the homes until they can be renovated.

After floodwaters washed over New Orleans, everything was “so gray,” Lemann says. “It was beyond surreal. It just tugged at your heart.” So the community art project made sense to him. “If ever there was a city born out of pure imagination, whose legacy is unfettered creativity, it is New Orleans.”

The deadline for Tulane faculty and staff members to sign up to volunteer for the Wave of Green service day is Friday (March 15).

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu