Whitney White Linen Night and Dirty Linen Night showcase art galleries in August.
Fashion and art are inextricably linked, and New Orleans knows how to highlight both. August brings not one but two nights of gallery hopping and revelry in your summer finest, and then dingiest.
Whitney White Linen Night, produced by the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), kicks off the month on Aug. 1. This year marks the 21st for the annual block party that celebrates the CAC and art galleries along Julia Street and in the vicinity of the Warehouse District.
The crowd is encouraged to wear white linen to honor the Southern tradition of wearing the kind of clothing that kept you as cool as possible in the days before air conditioning. Local stores like Rubenstein’s and Perlis carry linen clothing to suit the needs of any Southerner or visitor in our hot summer months.
But buy your linen early. According to Pat McCausland of Perlis Magazine Street, “We carry white linen suits for spring and summer weddings, and the more casual linen shirts, pants and shorts for White Linen Night. The week before the event we have a full stock, but the day of the event it’s always a frenzy, and the stock gets bought out.”
Attendance at White Linen night has been measured at 45,000 by the New Orleans Police Department, and the crowds flow from gallery to food vendor to mobile bar and back again as the night progresses. There will be three music stages and over 20 local restaurant and food truck vendors participating.
While White Linen Night is a free block party, the after party inside the Contemporary Arts Center is always a spectacular event and an important fundraiser for the CAC. This year the center will open a group show of Louisiana artists that explores how the art world has shifted in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. Special access to their exhibits, not to mention the air conditioning, caps the night off.
After giving yourself a week to recover and hang your new art purchases, you can do it all again wearing the same outfit. Dirty Linen Night follows on Aug. 8 and takes an irreverent twist on White Linen Night by encouraging participants to wear the same clothes they wore the previous week, without laundering them first.
Taking place in the French Quarter along Royal Street, Jackson Square and Dutch Alley, this evening highlights not only the art galleries in the Quarter, but the antique shops and boutiques along that historic stretch. Street musicians accompany shoppers, and many of the participating gallery and shop owners offer dirty martinis and dirty rice to playfully enforce the event’s theme. Visitors should also watch out for dirty laundry baskets decorating the sidewalks.
Gallery Burguieres, located at 736 Royal St., will take part in Dirty Linen Night. “This will be our sixth year participating,” says resident artist Ally Burguieres. “It was basically our grand opening six years ago, and we do it every year.”
One thing Burguieres observed about this event is that while she typically gets a lot of tourists in the gallery, during Dirty Linen Night “we see a lot of locals. It gets the locals down into the Quarter, and it’s a nice event for summer.”
Many gallery and shop owners have come to rely on the event for an uptick in profit in the typically slower summer months.
“We see a lot in sales, with a focus on our original paintings as opposed to our prints,” Burguieres says. “We will be premiering five new pieces at Dirty Linen this year.”
The first two Saturdays of August truly celebrate artists and small business owners who support the arts in New Orleans. And like so many New Orleans traditions, white linen never goes out of style.
For more information on White Linen Night, visit CACNO.org. Details on Dirty Linen Night can be found at facebook.com/DirtyLinenNight.
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City. She advises travelers to ask their cab/pedicab/gondola driver for their favorite restaurant and taking a chance.