Elise Allen makes me laugh. Every time I’ve had the fortune of being in her company I always walk away a happier person. Not only am I moved by her work, but I also sincerely enjoy her story. Elise moved to New Orleans a year before Katrina and has stayed because of a truly profound love for the city. The mother of two girls, Elise has a fantastic sense of both balance and style. She gallops through each work day with a defined outline checking things off along the way all the while enjoying life’s little treasures, like stolen moments with an artist friend, coffee and breakfast for a stylist/photographer (me), and embracing her family life with two big open arms.
I met Elise through a mutual friend and we became well acquainted pretty fast. That’s what’s so cool about Elise. You may have just met, but she makes you feel comfortable and at home immediately, as though you’ve been friends (with a fun history) for ages. As soon as I began to explore Elise’s art and learn about her technique (Venetian Plaster on wooden boards) I was immediately hooked. I love the way she subtly explores the abstract art form but also embraces vibrant colors and textures. She’s an interior designer’s dream. Her work is approachable both to the young investor as well as the seasoned art aficionado. I took a little time with her to find out more about her style, what brought her to New Orleans, where she’d like to see her art and of course the hard-hitting questions like her favorite coffee shop, what she orders and where she shops here in town.
Questions and Answers with Elise Allen
KGB: You work in a unique medium, Venetian Plaster. Where did you learn this technique?
EA: I learned the Venetian Plaster technique at The Finishing School in Port Washington, NY. I perfected it over the years when I was living in Manhattan and working with several artists doing wall finishes in NY, CT and NJ.
KGB: If you could have your art hung anywhere (collectors home, museum, gallery, restaurant) where would it be?
EA: A collector’s home in Manhattan.
KGB: You are not a native New Orleanian. When did you decide to move here and what was it that sealed the deal?
EA: I moved here with my husband and two daughters 10 years ago. My girls were three years old and three months old. We left NY in January ’04 on a cold morning when the temperature was eight degrees. The car door was frozen stuck because it was so cold. I think
what sealed the deal was my memories of visiting New Orleans while in college. We would come over for rugby games or Mardi Gras and end up at Fat Harry’s at 2 a.m. for burgers and cheese fries. I remember the city being so beautiful with the magnificent homes on St. Charles Avenue.
KGB: What’s your favorite place to shop for clothes in New Orleans?
EA: Jean Therapy, FeBe, Angelique, Anthropologie, and SAKS.
KGB: Do you have a favorite local artist that you enjoy and have in your home?
EA: My favorite local artist is Ashley Longshore. Not only do I enjoy her artistic talents but I love her free spirit, her sense of adventure and her humor. I would not be doing this if I hadn’t randomly met her five years ago. Ashley encouraged me to start painting again and has been nothing but positive and supportive throughout my whole journey. I will always be grateful and thankful to her for teaching me the ways of this business. She is one smart, talented woman! I have two of her pieces and I love them.
KGB: What is your favorite coffee shop and what do you order?
EA: I like Manhattan Jack and Still Perkin (in the Rink) and I order a amall skim latte with soy milk.
KGB: Do you listen to music when you’re painting? If so, what’s your artist or Pandora channel of choice?
EA: I love to listen to background music when I paint. It’s usually pretty mellow so I can get in the zone and paint without interruptions. My favorite mellow station on Pandora is Bon Iver. Sometimes I like to get a little more energy and for that I turn to Bruce Springsteen or Donna Summer radio!
KGB: And last but not least, if you could be any color in a box of crayons which color would you be?
EA: Periwinkle blue even thought I don’t think they make that color in crayons.
Addendum: Elise has partnered up in a collaboration with Pottery Barn – check out the last three pieces she has for sale. Also, mark your calendars for Saturday September 21, Elise will be hosting an art show at the new Manhattan Jack restaurant on Prytania Street!