For as far back as she can remember, Regina Scully was making art. Growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, she always considered herself an artist—even before she took her first formal class at the local YMCA when she was six. Thus, it made sense to take the same journey as many of America’s artists before her: she left her hometown, studied at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, and then headed to one of the world’s meccas for visual arts, New York City. She went there because, as she says, “every [artist] is supposed to go there”; however, she couldn’t produce the pieces she wanted or get it out to audiences because she was working all the time to make ends meet. After four years, she was done with NYC.
In 2004, she moved to New Orleans. When pressed on what made her come here, she talks first about her family. Her grandmother was from Mobile, Ala., and her sister, who is a local writer and had moved a few years prior, gave her a reason to visit. When she arrived, she loved it. The idea of moving to the South began to percolate, so she got online, checked out the galleries that were here and the artists working here, and knew that New Orleans was a place where she could make her career.
While Scully is a local artist in the sense that she makes her art here, her paintings have been shown around both the country and the world. In describing her process, she states that she doesn’t always know where the painting is going. That may explain how she creates these incredible abstract images that envelop the viewer. Scully isn’t New Orleans’ most famous artist, but her work might just be the most interesting.
Check out Scully’s work at the New Orleans Museum of Art in her exhibition, “Regina Scully | Japanese Landscapes: Inner Journeys.” The exhibition pairs Scully’s work with 18th- and 19th-century Japanese artists from the Edo period, exploring commonalities between her work and theirs. It’s on display now through Oct. 8, 2017 — admission is free on Wednesdays with a valid Louisiana I.D. courtesy of The Helis Foundation.
While Scully is a local artist in the sense that she makes her art in New Orleans, her paintings have been shown around both the country and the world.
20 QUESTIONS WITH Regina Scully
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
Harry Connick, Jr. I used to listen to him before I moved, and I love how he helped create the Musicians’ Village.
2.What first brought you to New Orleans?
Family and the art and culture of New Orleans. I would come down to visit family before I moved. I loved the city more and more each time, and I knew all the art, music, architecture, and nature would inspire me and my paintings.
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
Lower Garden District. I lived for a year on St. Andrew Street and had a wrought iron balcony full of plants. I loved all the trees around, and it was where I made the paintings for my first solo show in New Orleans.
4. If it’s a beautiful day, where are you going to spend it?
Honestly, probably in my studio, but if I ventured out, it would be to walk around the French Quarter with a good friend and sit by the river or to go to City Park and lie in the grass.
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans.
The Franklin. I love the food there and all the beautiful contemporary artwork.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
The Ruby Slipper Cafe in the Bywater. I like sitting at a table outside if the weather is nice.
7. What’s your favorite type of po-boy? Where do you get it?
Oyster po-boy at Parkway.
8. You’ve got friends visiting, and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
New Orleans Museum of Art, Cafe du Monde, French Quarter, a [streetcar] ride up St. Charles Avenue, and it’s always a good excuse to take a ride on the Steamboat Natchez and see the city from the river.
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
Not exactly a neighborhood bar, but Loa at International House Hotel.
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail, and where do you go to get it?
Not a cocktail— a glass of white burgundy.
11. What’s your favorite dessert or sweet treat in the city?
Mile High Pie at Pontchartrain Hotel.
12. Best spot to see live music?
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
My brother, Francis Scully, who started New Resonance Orchestra.
14. Favorite New Orleans festival?
15. What’s your ideal New Orleans date night?
A boat ride on the Mississippi.
16. What are your favorite local shops?
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
NOMA and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
I always want the Saints to win, and while I don’t usually watch the games, I keep track of how they’re doing and always check on the scores.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans, and why?
I always fall more deeply in love with New Orleans when the Prospect Biennials happen. The artistic energy soars even higher at these times, and I love it!