San Rafael, CA (PRWEB) February 25, 2006
PRWEB) February 25, 2006 -- Tess Nottebohm's whole life is about art, so it was natural that she would respond to the tragedy of New Orleans with a giant collage celebrating Mardi Gras 2006.
The collage - a romantic swirl of Gustav Dore images, dominated by a large, winged angel - has become a poster for sale locally, online and in New Orleans, with 10 percent of the proceeds earmarked for the American Red Cross's flood relief efforts.
She first visited New Orleans a decade ago "and it captured my soul and didn't let go."
"When I couldn't convince my husband to move there, I began purchasing rundown New Orleans Victorians and fixing them up for resale. I love to decorate and embellish things."
"I find New Orleans the most romantic place on earth," the San Rafael resident says. "The art, the food, the music. It's very French, very Spanish, very African. It's a very colorful city."
Tess Nottebohm says she was horrified when the floods hit New Orleans. "I have many friends there, some of whom lost everything. The city may survive but it will never be the same. The floods washed away so much that is not replaceable."
From her anguish came the poster, which she says is an homage to Dor}, a 19th-century engraver. The Dor} images are connected with computerized swirls of water, and labeled in Nottebohm's fine calligraphic hand. Some of the images are fantasy, some are symbolic. A cross becomes a universal symbol of hope. A black man holding up a swooning white female figure "represents New Orleans, built on the backs of slaves."
The angel in the center embodies the "brotherhood and sisterhood it will take to rebuild the city."
Nottebohm, who is a painter, has also written a novel about New Orleans. She holed up in a New Orleans bed-and-breakast for six weeks, reading, thinking and courting the muse that eventually gave her "full blown" the story she tells in her book, "Sultry Days of Blood and Angels."
"It's kind of New Orleans people telling me about themselves," she says. "I'm not a New Age person but, if I were, I would think they were telling me things they wanted me to write down."
She wrote on and off for five years, first doing mountains of research in books she exhumed from the back shelves of New Orleans bookstores. "I have more than 300 books on the old city - from 1865 to the mid 1900s. My husband and I are just fascinated by old books. We have a huge library on every subject imaginable. Eventually I will donate the New Orleans books to the city library."
The result of her research is "a very passionate book, with elements of mystery and a very controversial core." She is still working on a final version, she says. "Next step is to look for a publisher."
Nottebohm's properties were largely spared - "no flooding, a bit of storm damage; I'm dealing with that."
Over the years she has sold 10 houses, still owns six, in various stages of rehabilitation. "I'm very proud of one of them," she says. "It was 100 years old but very run down. I made a beauty of it, I transformed it with ironwork, paint and shutters. And one by one the surrounding properties started cleaning up, and we upgraded the whole neighborhood. I felt it really inspired a lot of people."
Now she hopes her poster will inspire people, too.
"I wanted to create something meaningful," Nottebohm says.
"The city will always celebrate Mardi Gras, no matter what," she says. "Its people will always dance on the edge of the volcano."
She hopes her poster - and its angel - will help keep that spirit alive.
The poster can be viewed and ordered online at Tess Nottebohm's website
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