Art from the heart: Do you have a Shakor?

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Gallery Cayenne offers up artwork to spice up your life

New Orleans – Whether you’re a tourist falling in love with New Orleans for the first time, or a long-time resident who lives and breathes Big Easy culture, there’s a shop on the edge of Jackson Square that’s calling your name.

Gallery Cayenne is where you’ll find the work of Shakor, a man who was born in Brooklyn, but has spent most of his life in New Orleans.

“I chose the name Shakor because, translated it means ‘black’ and so black absorbs all the light of the color spectrum, and I feel that I’m the center that draws in the light, and I burst color and light onto the world,” says Shakor, whose given name is B. Cameron White.

He was four years old when his mother recognized his artistic talent and knew that art classes were in order. While in NYC, he would spend lots of time soaking up the art at museums such as the Met and the Guggenheim.

His gallery has an incredible view of St. Louis Cathedral, but you’ll be mesmerized by all the views you’ll find as you look through his collection. It’s a parade of global and local pop culture, with musicians, actors, sports stars and celebrities from every realm.

But along with Prince and Dew Brees, you’ll find iconic images of New Orleans. Whimsical street scenes bursting with color and a mattering of signature Nola symbols, such as Mardi Gras beads and musician silhouettes. Every now and then you’ll see a touch of Picasso or the influence of Van Gogh.

“I believe that I have the right to honor them through my artistic talent and just use a little bit of their flavor to make my gumbo pot,” he told WGNO’s Stephanie Oswald.

Shakor also does custom work; you can even hire him to paint a portrait of your pet!

One outstanding masterpiece currently on display links COVID-19 with one of our city’s most cherished traditions: the second line funeral. As medical workers dance next to and atop the casket of COVID-19, a store worker throws toilet paper from a balcony and front line workers stamp out the virus. A jester cheers from the side, wearing a mask the old-fashioned way, while others twirl white face masks in place of handkerchiefs. It’s called “Farewell to COVID-19.”

After local journalist Nancy Parker was tragically killed, Shakor painted a stunning portrait of her, featuring a streetcar in the background. On the streetcar windows are the names of her three children. The image was part of her memorial service, and Shakor gave each child an original. That’s an example of the heart of Shakor: his caring soul shines through in all of his work.

The art comes in many forms and price points; you can spend a few dollars, or a few thousand. Either way, you’ll bring home something uniquely New Orleans.

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