After an extensive rebuild grounded in sustainable building practices, ArtEgg, finally ready towelcome New Orleans’ art community, opened its doors in January 2007. Part of the rebuildingendeavor included efforts to maintain a sense of community among ArtEgg tenants. As well asposting updates on ArtEgg’s website, Dr. Dyer contacted tenants and their emergency contactsvia email, informing them of the damages the building sustained and when it would be safe foroccupants to return to retrieve their property. Dyer also provided a list of phone numbers fora variety of services to tenants. As well, Dyer provided free storage for some tenants until thebuilding could be rebuilt and steered artists to Artist Fellowships, which awarded some smallgrants to artists.
Though Dyer made many efforts to maintain a cohesive community, the lengthiness of therebuilding process led a number of tenants to move to other properties.
The New York Times, in an article published September 13, 2005 by Carol Vogel, “Artistson the Run, Their Art Left Behind; New Orleans Painters and Sculptors Wonder if WorksSurvived,” featured some remarks from Dyer as well as a short interview with ArtEgg artist,Lory Lockwood. She explained to the New York Times that the biggest problem facing ArtEggwas water coming in and “soaking” art works.
Lory Lockwood, a realist painter who evacuated to Houston, felt more fortunate compared toother artists because her home, “. . . which is in the historic district,” survived. Her primaryconcern focused on her studio at ArtEgg and the damages sustained there. Lockwood had twopieces at ArtEgg—a complete work and another still in progress. Fortunately, her portfolioof work survived when her husband snatched up a computer disk containing her work whenevacuating. Additionally, Lockwood had sent off 27 pieces of her work—about 80% of hercollection—to the Bradley Academy of the Visual Arts in York, PA days before Katrina hit.Lockwood, who left all her supplies in New Orleans, had only two stretcher frames and a fewtubes of paint that she found in her car. Lockwood stated, “It’s a fragile time. I know I shouldbe working, but I can’t. I want to do something that takes me away from it all. But I don’t knowwhat that is.”
Dyer organized an art show, “New Orleans in New York,” to publicize the personal devastationhurricane Katrina wrought among the arts community in New Orleans. Dyer, the founder ofthe Heritage Foundation for Arts and Cultural Sustainability located at ArtEgg, moved theFoundation to the National Arts Club in New York City during the rebuild of the property.The National Arts Club Education Committee, chaired by Dyer (who is a resident of theNational Arts Club), coordinated the show with the Heritage Foundation for Arts and CulturalSustainability sponsoring it. According to the press release announcing the “New Orleans inNew York” show, “It is critical that artists and cultural institutions be supported in order to assure that New Orleans does not become a parody of itself.”
While assessing damages at ArtEgg, Dyer rescued a number of artworks ranging from slightlyto “massively” damaged in order to show “. . . the extent of destruction. . .” to those “. . . whohas not gone through a major disaster. . .” Dyer used these pieces in the show, which was meantto be a follow up to the September 13th piece in the New York Times. “New Orleans in NewYork” ran from October 5 to October 11, 2005.
As well as displaying art, the show also presented a number of lectures by artists and culturalexperts with discussions ranging from perspectives gained from artist employment duringthe Works Progress Administration to the lessons taught by 9/11 in the importance of arts inrebuilding efforts. Lory Lockwood shared her story in the presentation, “What Artists Need:New Orleans Artists on the Run.” An auction organized by the National Arts Club was also heldas part of artist relief efforts.
Upon completion of the rebuilding efforts, Dyer resorted to emailing her lists of tenants, bothcurrent and former, as well as advertising on Craig’s List. When advertising the new andimproved ArtEgg, Dyer emphasized the sustainable design features that had been incorporatedinto the rebuild as well as the general improvements to the space overall.
On the eve of the storm, ArtEgg enjoyed 100% occupancy. Upon reopening in January of 2007,ArtEgg retained five original tenants—the Alliance for Affordable Energy, FutureProof, andthree individual artists and collectors. At the time of the writing of this piece, ArtEgg enjoys90% occupancy, a near complete rebound from Katrina.