The Helis Foundation Hosts ‘Evenings With Enrique’
The fountain at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, the reliefs on Charity Hospital, the bridges that cross City Park’s many waterways, “Molly Marine” at Canal Street and Elk Place (the very first statue of a woman in military uniform in the United States): they all have one thing in common – Mexican-born Louisiana artist Enrique Alférez, who is renown for his art deco-styled sculptures, created them.
This month, The New Orleans Botanical Garden, 5 Victory Ave., in City Park, will stay open every Wednesday until 8:00 p.m. to celebrate “Evenings with Enrique” with free admission for Louisiana residents courtesy of The Helis Foundation.
In October 2015, The New Orleans Botanical Garden unveiled The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden. It’s an 8,000 sq. ft. park featuring 15 sculptures by Alférez set within sweeping footpaths surrounded by lush tropical flowers and shrubs.
One of the few remaining examples of public garden design from the Works Progress Administration, The New Orleans Botanical Garden showcases the art deco influences of three contemporaries: architect Richard Koch, landscape architect William Wiedorn and Alférez.
Each week, “Evenings with Enrique” will feature local musicians playing among the collection of Alférez sculptures that will be illuminated with enhanced lighting and fire baskets suspended from the branches of the live oak tree.
Guests are asked to enter the venue through the Oscar J. Tolmas Building, and are invited to purchase mojitos and Latin food provided by La Cocinita food truck. Last night, Julio & Cesar, guitarists from Guatemala, entertained the crowds.
The remaining “Evenings with Enrique” music schedule for the month includes:
• Wednesday, April 11
Raphael Bas – French guitarist, harmonica player, vocalist from France
• Wednesday, April 18
Paky Saavedra – composer, singer and guitarist from Honduras
• Wednesday, April 25
Manny Arteaga – guitarist, vocalist from Venezuela
The Helis Foundation, a Louisiana private foundation, has a general fund that focuses on community needs primarily within the Metropolitan New Orleans area by granting funds to numerous local nonprofit organizations. The foundation’s Art Funds make grants to sustain operations, to provide free admission to and to acquire significant art works on behalf of major institutions within the Metropolitan New Orleans area.
The Art Funds also have underwritten the Contemporary Art Center’s “30 Americans,” Prospect.3’s “Basquiat and the Bayou” presented by The Helis Foundation, the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition presented by The Helis Foundation, Airlift’s Roving Music Village in City Park, the installation of Lynda Benglis’ “The Wave of the World” and The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden.
Artist Alférez, the son of Mexican sculptor Longinos Alfèrez, was born in 1901 in San Miguel de Mezquital Zacatecas, Mexico, and spent part of his youth in the army of Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution before coming to the United States. He moved to New Orleans in 1929 after studying at the Art Institute of Chicago under sculptor Larado Taft. He fell in love with the French Quarter and became a respected member of the arts community creating multiple works in stone, bronze, plaster, wood, metal, terra cotta and papier-mâché. In New Orleans, where he resided until his death in 1999, he directed the sculpture program for multiple Works Progress Administration projects, most of which were included in the rebuilding of City Park.