Didn't I see you at White Linen Night? Wasn't it a blast?


The White Linen Night block party is one of New Orleans’ great see-and-be-seen scenes. On Saturday night (Aug. 4), thousands and thousands of of art fans filled Julia Street from curb to curb. Most wore elegant summer white outfits, turning the Warehouse District into a flouncy, heat-defying fashion blizzard.

Though rain fell through much of the day, the skies cleared by the early evening start of the 24th annual event; not that rain would have stopped White Linen Night. Last year’s party persevered despite the Aug. 5 rains and flood that swamped much of the city.

The White Linen Night custom began almost a quarter century ago as a modest Martini-sipping, block party for Warehouse District galleries and the Contemporary Arts Center. It was an antidote to August doldrums. It has since evolved into the blockbuster opening event of the Crescent City arts season, a dreamy blend of contemporary art and conviviality that costs nothing to attend.

Considering the preponderance of eminently stain-able white outfits, the Arts Council of New Orleans courted colorful disaster by erecting a huge blank canvas on Julia Street, dispensing brushes and inviting passersby to paint. The point of the DIY mural was to call attention to an upcoming project funded by the Helis Foundation that will bring five new outdoor murals to the arty neighborhood.

Of all the gorgeous and compelling artworks on display, the most memorable was a 55 gallon drum of crude oil mixed with human blood on the top floor of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

WLN is sometimes the scene of subversive political and artistic expression. This year, however, the most audacious thing we saw was that patrons were asked not to use cellphones while attending one of the Julia Street gallery exhibits.

Did that include selfies? If so, it’s an outrage. To inhibit selfies on White Linen Night is like inhibiting surfing on Maui. Ask anybody: I selfie therefore I am.

Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music, and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at dmaccash@nola.com. Follow him on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.

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