NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As protests continue across the country and metro-New Orleans, a local attorney says he’s never been more inspired to paint.
“I’m inspired by the fact that this might actually be a moment where we do take that stride,” Spencer Shulz said. Shulz taught himself how to paint seven years ago during Hurricane Gustav when he started dating his wife.
“I didn’t want to seem like a stick in the mud, so I was like ‘oh God, I’ll paint but she’s going to want to dump me after this,’” said Shulz. “I loved it and I just kept doing it. I’ve been doing it every day for the last seven years.”
He first started with portraits of his favorite authors and his closest friends, like David Hynes. Hynes died in 2019 after Endymion parade when Tashonty Toney plowed his car into a crowd of cyclists on Esplanade Avenue. Sharree Walls, 27, and Hynes, 31, died on the scene.
“He was always supportive,” Shulz said.
From portraits to architecture, now Shulz moves to something else he says galvanizes him.
"I really kind of put my heart and soul in it," he said. "You go to these protests and you see people of all ages, all colors, men and women, the LGBT community, and it feels like we are really binding together."
A civil defense attorney by day, Shulz says watching and participating in protests across New Orleans pushes him to document it on canvas.
He’s completed two pieces and working on a third. He says it’s odd to see groups together not celebrating New Orleans traditions but instead asking for justice, peace, and equality.
"You look at this crowd and it's like you usually see for a second line or a Mardi Gras parade or something like that, but it just felt so different."
His current piece is from earlier this month when he and other demonstrators walked down Poydras, passing the Mercedes Super dome, and onto the I-10 overpass.
Shulz reflects being in the moment, “and I’m looking out and I’m just like this feels different. This is not the typical reason why we’re in the street together. This feels like a real change in our society.”
It’s change he says he can see and feel other protesters want. He wants to convey it in his work.
"There is anger there is an element of anger underneath it all but people are conducting themselves with grace and composure."
Shulz is partnering with ‘Where Y’Art’ to make prints of his pieces. He says and proceeds he would make, he’ll instead donate.