Heart of Louisiana: River House

The site of a century-old levee break in St. Bernard Parish is now an art gallery.
Published: Nov. 6, 2022 at 3:26 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 6, 2022 at 11:09 PM CST

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The site of a century-old levee break in St. Bernard Parish is now an art gallery. The works of art displayed both inside and outside the gallery reflect both the natural beauty and challenges of living near the Mississippi River

This old river Buoy used to mark the channel on the Mississippi River, now it’s become art standing near the river levee in an outdoor sculpture garden in St. Bernard Parish. The outdoor display is part of a gallery of contemporary art at what’s called crevasse 22 river house.

“We wanted to create a space to draw people to St. Bernard to showcase the beauty; our history, our culture,” said Sidney Torres lll.

There is a theme to many of these works of art that both celebrate the beauty of the river and surrounding wetlands, but also warn of environmental danger.

“I recognize the need to educate people from all over as to who we are in order for us to be able to preserve who we are down here,” said Sidney Torres lll.

You can walk through waves of gravel, or explore what grows underneath these small glass half-domes that lie under an oak tree.

“All kinds of things happen. Little ant colonies, little special flowers, that kind of like being in that little terrarium setting,” said Jeanne Nathan.

Jeanne Nathan is the gallery director. One of the outdoor displays was created by her husband, Robert Tannen.

“He’s put these flat boats up against each other, and it’s a sculpture, but it’s also if a storm comes, it’s a way to get out of here,” said Jeanne Nathan.

There’s a lot of history behind this location in St. Bernard Parish and the river. In fact, it’s called crevasse 22, what happened?

“In 1922, there was a natural crevasse. Everybody thinks every crevasse that ever happened, which is a break in the levee, is an explosion because that’s one of the myths. But no, that was a natural one and it drowned St. Bernard. I mean, it was a biggie,” said Jeanne Nathan.

The artworks range from hand-carved duck decoys to contemporary sculptures. Two of them were created by artist Mapo Kinnord. She describes her art as improvisational.

“If you decide to free yourself, and you let it flow in terms of it’ll get wider or it’ll get thinner, or it’ll go in this direction or that direction, that’s the fun part,” said Mapo Kinnord.

These large bird prints and this feathered whooping crane costume, honor the efforts of humans to return the whooping crane to south Louisiana.

“This is an example of the restoration of the whooping crane by dressing up like the birds. The birds wouldn’t imprint on the humans who were raising them and restoring the population that had depleted to zero in Louisiana,” Pippin Frisble-Calder said.

This gallery is full of works by local artists, that in their own way, explore the beauty and the instability of this south Louisiana river landscape.

Click here to report a typo.