Light has always captivated the artist Joan Griswold. For forty years, her solo painting exhibitions have shown her fascination with the way it shines through a window onto a stack of books or bathes a pair of tomatoes in warm glow. Now, the glimmer of New Orleans—be it sunshine, a row of streetlights, or a reading lamp—has flooded her senses. “New Orleans is just full of glorious architecture with high ceilings, light pouring in tall windows, and languid, sultry air in lush gardens,” Griswold says. “I find it incredibly inspiring.” In a new exhibition at the uptown Cole Pratt Gallery, Griswold presents a group of interior and landscape paintings inspired by her rambles seeking shadow and shine throughout the city.
Griswold has exhibited her artwork frequently near her second home in Massachusetts and in New York City, but she says that when she’s in New Orleans part of the year with her husband, the humorist and G&G contributor Roy Blount, Jr., she likes to hunt for beautiful spots of light falling on alleyways, streets, buildings, and the Mississippi river. “I have a tiny cigar box that I carry with a little panel and my palette,” she says. “I will do a quick study in plein air and I might take a few photographs.” She returns to her studio in the garçonniére tucked in the courtyard of her French Quarter home, and there, she mixes oil paints and recreates on canvas what has captivated her.
About two dozen of those paintings—of a boat on the Mississippi, rain-showered streets, and cozy New Orleans interiors—are on display at at the Cole Pratt Gallery on Magazine Street in New Orleans. The show runs now through April 29 and the artist’s opening reception is Saturday, April 1, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.