Like Degas in Walmart, Mitch Long’s paintings rock the Jazz Fest | Louisiana Festivals

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No one has ever painted the French Quarter better than Mitch Long. His pared-down, bushy canvases perfectly replicate the ramshackle geometry and pastel light of Old Squarewith barely a whisper of sentimentality.

He claims to be realistic, but it’s a bit too simple. He’s like Bob Dylan, almost incomprehensible, but perfectly precise at the same time.

Long came to Louisiana from Florida in the 1990s to earn an MFA at LSU; he moved to New Orleans soon after. For a decade, Long honed his skills by making a living selling paintings on the Jackson Square fence.

About six months ago, Long said, a pal challenged him to apply his powers of observation and lush brushwork inside Costco or other big-box stores.

Long took up the challenge and began returning vignettes at mega-retail stores. Imagine bunches of bananas and punnets of strawberries crawling along the conveyor belts, customers pushing their carts on the polished floors, under the grid of fluorescent lights, and fluorescent lights, and fluorescent lights. His paintings, based on photos he took in stores, were beautiful, but emotionally cold, mysterious, and spaced out. Somnambulistic one might say.






Artist Mitch Long is well known for his atmospheric, bushy paintings of the French Quarter. Lately, he’s turned his powers of observation inside big-box stores, like Walmart and Costco.




Intentionally or not, they were absolutely perfect for the socially distant and scary era in which they were produced. They were symbols of the time, without any direct symbolism. And given that they were painted by the same guy who had made a name for himself documenting the romantic and historic Vieux Carré, there was a certain irony to them too.

Asked to define her new aesthetic, Long said she looked a bit “like Degas in Walmart.” No need to try to put it more succinctly.

On Friday, Long had none of his large paintings on the walls of his booth. They had to be pulled out of a bin of miniature works of art. He had a large Costco painting stashed backstage, which he dragged when asked. He said he could hang up by Saturday. His works range from $600 to $7,000.







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Artist Mitch Long is well known for his atmospheric, bushy paintings of the French Quarter. Lately, he’s turned his powers of observation inside big-box stores, like Walmart and Costco.




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