Whenever I go on a trip, I always think about the time of year and if someone’s birthday is coming up. Right now, my thoughts are focused on one person – my mom – because Sunday, May 14th is her day: Mother’s Day. The day I get to say, “Thanks for giving me life, putting up with my prepubescent sass, and forgiving me completely for crashing your car when I was 16.”
In honor of moms everywhere, I’m going to tell you about an LGBT-friendly, hidden treasure in Old Algiers where you can get your mom something truly incredible: a piece of art handcrafted from exquisite blown glass from local artist (and pioneer of the art form here in the city) Mark Rosenbaum of Rosetree Blown Glass.
When I asked Mark about how he became interested in art, he smiled, recalling his father’s art studio, filled with supplies and their only TV. Together, with his five siblings, they’d watch their father illustrate books, magazine covers and numerous comic books. In fact, Mark’s father, Harry Rosenbaum, illustrated The Spectacular Spiderman #1 comic book.
Growing up watching him, Mark never felt he could measure up to his father’s incredible skill. That is, until he took a job in the ceramics department at Denison University in Ohio. He felt like he’d finally found his medium, but the process of creating a piece of art out of ceramic seemed to take forever. “With ceramics, you start with wet clay, and that’s cool, but there are a lot of dead periods. It takes longer, and the magic isn’t as instant as it is with glassblowing,” Mark says.
Still, after much thought and some prodding from his brother, also an artist, Mark transferred to Tyler School of Art to become a ceramics major. It was while he was working in the ceramics studio that he kept hearing all this rock n’ roll music. Wondering where it was coming from, he found his way into the school’s glassblowing studio where he saw people create things out of molten goo right before his eyes. And that did it. Right then he knew what he wanted to create art out of glass. “To watch them start from nothing and create this tangible object from start to finish – the magic that happened there was incredible.”
(Related: Watch episode 3 of Max and Kyle’s New Orleans Adventures!)
After graduating with a BA from Tyler School of Art with an emphasis in crafts, he realized he wanted to teach. And in 1983, Mark became the first ever to graduate from Tulane with a Master of Fine Arts in Glass. He taught at the university until in 1985, when he was awarded a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts to open the first glassblowing studio in New Orleans.
From ring holders and flowers to sun catchers, pumpkins, vases and memorial pieces, Rosetree Blown Glass has something for everyone – not just Mom. “We’ve been on both coasts, and this is one of the better glassblowing studios to buy art from. It’s truly exceptional,” says one customer from Texas.
No matter who you’re shopping for (maybe even yourself), Rosetree Blown Glass in Old Algiers is an easy addition to your must-do list. Besides, the best part of heading out to Algiers is the ferry. It’s a quick walk from the French Quarter and an even quicker ride across the river. And don’t forget, while you’re strolling around, check out the cool corner stores and restaurants that seem to dot every corner.
Other Places to Shop for Mom:
Besides Rosetree, of course!
1. Hazelnut on Magazine Street near Whole Foods has some beautiful objects for Mom. Every time I go in there I can’t help but want everything I see. They have serving trays, picture frames, jewelry, artwork, soy candles, and much more.
2. My mom loves hats, and if your mom is like mine, you have to at least stop by and take a look. The hats at Fleur De Paris are truly incredible, and they’re made right here in New Orleans.
3. Stop by The Maskarade to get your mom a handcrafted Mardi Gras mask made by a local artisan. Some of the masks are so gorgeous you may be tempted to frame them.
4. Head over to Jackson Square and walk around all the different vendors. From abstract art to depictions of typical New Orleans scenes and more, you can find the perfect work of art for mom or yourself.