Presented by The Helis Foundation

Five local and international artists’ murals will transform downtown New Orleans in the spring of 2019 as part of Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation.

Of the initial mural commissions, two are dedicated to local artists who competed in an open call for artists that garnered hundreds of submissions. The selection committee also nominated international artists to complete two additional murals. The final mural will result from a community-led process in partnership with Young Artist Movement.

The inaugural Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation artists are:

MOMO is an American artist working in public spaces with homemade tools.  His current interests lie with an evolving range of adapted masonry techniques to draft, design, and organize wall murals. The artist has been commissioned for murals by the New York City DOT, the John Hancock Tower in Boston, the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art in Brussels, The Contemporary Art Museum in Oaxaca Mexico, Art Production Fund NY, Facebook, Pepsi, NFL, World Trade Center, and The European Capital of Culture, all while living and keeping a studio in New Orleans.

Nina Chanel Abney is a New York-based artist and painter who explores race, gender, pop culture, and politics in her work. Her work uses symbols and bright colors to present new ways of approaching loaded topics as she invites viewers to draw their own conclusions. Her first museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, opened at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in 2017 before traveling to the Chicago Cultural Center and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum, Los Angeles. Royal Flush it will also be shown in its final iteration at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York.

Etam Cru is comprised of Polish street artists Sainer and Bezt, known for their building-sized murals. Etam Cru impresses their worldwide audiences with their drawing skills as well as their handling of spray cans and mastery of classical painting with acrylics and oil. The way Sainer and Bezt unite pop-cultural with realistic imagery results in a deeply surreal, fantastic ambiance.

Carl Joe Williams was born in Uptown New Orleans and was accepted to The New Orleans Center for Creative Art (NOCCA) at the age of 14 where he began his formal training. Upon completing high school, Williams continued his studies at the Atlanta College of Art. Williams’ work involves figures and narratives. His work also includes many complex color combinations, rhythmic patterns inspired by geometric patterns found in nature and through cultural echoes of African diasporic memory. Rhythms and harmonies converge into a symphony of colors, repurposed objects, reflective and textured surfaces that work together to create a transportive visual experience. Over the years Williams work has expanded to involve murals, sculpture, sound and videography. Williams continues to explore narratives that speak to our collective human condition.

Brandan B-Mike Odums in partnership with Young Artist Movement. Brandan B-Mike Odums, New Orleans muralist and founder of Studio Be will collaborate with Young Artist Movement, New Orleans’ first city-wide youth mural initiative, engaging youth, artists, and communities in sustained public art and place-making.

The first round of commissions to be awarded will result in an inaugural exhibition of five large-scale contemporary murals to be unveiled in Spring 2019. With a focus on the epicenter of the Arts District’s museums and galleries, the murals will be strategically situated within a walkable cluster to reinforce Arts District New Orleans as an emerging contemporary art hub while driving traffic to the businesses and venues within the district and enlivening the streetscape.

“The Helis Foundation is committed to providing access to world-class art to all New Orleanians and visitors,” said David Kerstein, President of The Helis Foundation. “Partnering with Arts Council New Orleans, we are able to bring innovative artwork from our own city and around the world directly to the streets of New Orleans.”

Muralist selections were made by the Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation selection committee comprised of:

  • Andrea Andersson, The Helis Foundation Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the Contemporary Arts Center
  • Brandan B-Mike Odums, Artist and Curator of Studio BE
  • Chris Alfieri, Esq., Arts District New Orleans Resident and President & Board Chair, Prospect New Orleans
  • Danielle Del Sol, Executive Director, Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans
  • Leslie-Claire Spillman, Director and Curator at Soren Christensen Gallery and Board Member of Arts District New Orleans
  • William Andrews, Director of The Ogden Museum of Southern Art

“Vibrant and engaging murals have the power to transform communities. They transform bland facades into contemporary works that enhance our shared urban environment, reflect community character, seed civic dialog, and help strengthen an area’s sense of place.” Arts Council New Orleans Executive Director Heidi Schmalbach said. “We are proud to partner with The Helis Foundation to reflect the artistic energy happening inside the museums and galleries on walls within the Arts District for the public to enjoy.”

As New Orleans’ largest signature mural collection, Unframed presented by The Helis Foundation will generate economic benefit for artists, stimulate pedestrian traffic in the area, and reinforce New Orleans’ position as a national and international destination for contemporary art.