On Wednesday, October 28th, at 11:00 a.m., The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden will open to the public with a dedication ceremony followed by a day of free tours and public programming celebrating the history and influence of Mexican-American New Orleans artist Enrique Alférez (1901-1999). The dedication will include remarks by Dr. Tlaloc Alférez, daughter of the famed artist, and officials from The Helis Foundation and New Orleans City Park. Throughout the day, docents will offer free guided tours of the 8000 sq. ft. sculpture garden featuring 14 sculptures set within large sweeping footpaths surrounded by lush tropical flowers and shrubs.
“Enrique Alférez continues to be one of Louisiana’s most important artists, and The Helis Foundation is honored to help secure his legacy,” said David Kerstein, President of The Helis Foundation. “We are proud to work with New Orleans City Park and the Alférez family to make sure residents and visitors will be able to enjoy these beautiful works of art in a contemplative and peaceful setting.”
At 6:00 p.m., the public is invited to lectures about the life and art of Enrique Alférez in the Pavilion of the Two Sisters. Katie Pfohl, New Orleans Museum of Art curator of modern and contemporary art, will discuss “Mexico in New Orleans: Enrique Alférez and his World.” Author and historian Katie Bowler Young will speak on, “Enrique Alférez: His Life and Work.” A wine and cheese reception will follow. This programming, free and open to the public, is presented in partnership with the Historic New Orleans Collection and the New Orleans Botanical Garden Foundation.
The son of a Mexican sculptor, Alférez spent part of his young-adult life in the army of Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution before coming to the United States. He studied with the prolific sculptor Lorado Taft in Chicago in the 1920s, then moved to New Orleans in 1929, where he lived until his death in 1999. His sculptures and reliefs adorn many parks, buildings, and landmarks in New Orleans and throughout South Louisiana including the well-known façade of Charity Hospital. He created numerous sculptures for New Orleans City Park through the Works Progress Administration, including many iconic bridges that cross City Park’s many waterways. Alférez also sculpted “Molly Marine” at Canal St. and Elk Place, which is the very first statue of a woman in military uniform in the United States.
“My father had a special relationship with New Orleans City Park,” said Dr. Tlaloc Alférez. “He loved the peaceful and natural surroundings of the park and was honored to have dozens of his works grace the grounds throughout his long career.”
The Garden will be part of the New Orleans Botanical Garden’s extensive new entrance re-design. The new entrance to the Botanical Garden, opening in November 2015, will be through the Oscar J. Tolmas Center, formally the Little Casino Building. Entrance improvements will include a new Arrival Garden and Conservatory Court, which will lead visitors to The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden. The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden is designed by Landscape Architect Robin Tanner.
“Enrique Alférez used everyday materials as a vehicle to convey the erotic, the beautiful, and the divine in inseparable fusion. In constructing a setting for these vehicles, I worked to stay out of the way and let them shine,” said Mr. Tanner.
The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and is closed Mondays. The entrance to the Garden is on Victory Drive in City Park. Free parking is available along Victory Avenue and in the lot across from the Garden. Admission is $4.
“The Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden is a tremendous addition to our Botanical Garden,” said Bob Becker, CEO of City Park. “Enrique Alférez created beautiful sculptures in the Botanical Garden and City Park over a period of 60 years. This Sculpture Garden is a fitting tribute to a man whose art has meant so much to the beauty of City Park.