Gone are the days when us here in New Orleans have to envy other big cities for their dope interactive pop-ups that we see on Instagram. Now, we have our very own one-of-a-kind artist curated space that is JAMNOLA. You can officially “do it for the ‘gram” across the 12 rooms of the New Orleans themed exhibit – while socially distancing of course. So, you might want to bring a friend along to take your pictures, because due to COVID restrictions, staff isn’t able to help you with that for now. I had the pleasure of checking out an early preview of the space before it opens to the public on August 1.
JAMNOLA is a love letter to New Orleans’ JOY. ART. MUSIC by Jonny Liss and Chad Smith in partnership with Where Y’Art. We love a philanthropic movement – these guys employed more than twenty local artists in the midst of a global pandemic to bring the space to life. In addition, a percentage of the proceeds are being donated to Trombone Shorty Foundation and Feed The Second Line.
All guests receive access to a personal microsite after registering. This site allows you more information and acts as a space for the interactive portions of the exhibit. So keep your QR code handy.
JAMNOLA features several experiential rooms including:
Feather Forest by Julianne Lagniappe. This is the first room you enter. It’s a beautifully moody lit space of pinks and blues with chandeliers and feathers galore.
What’s Your Jam? features murals from Ceaux, Noah Church, Josh Hailey, Jeremy Paten and of course a signature neon sign. Don’t forget to look down, the floor tells another story of New Orleans.
Bling Bayou was one of my favorite rooms. And very appropriately named. Make sure to say hi to the gator, I was told he loves taking pictures.
The Bead Goes On was another one of my favorites. It’s just so – pretty! It was made with more than 22,000 beads from ArcGNO – another company with a great story and mission that you should check out.
The next room, Spirit Trees, is more than just pretty. Historically, spirit bottle trees are known to protect against bad spirits. This room’s artists wanted to have curated content, so there’s a little history lesson from contributor Terri Simon. I met Felici and Joey of the Milagros Collective and they said a lot of their work is made from repurposed, upcycled materials like bottles they get from their friends. Also make sure to write down your hopes to add to the wall of intention.
It was around this point we kind of lost our tour group, but luckily, we then happened to run into Jonny Liss, the co-founder. He’s incredibly sweet. Everyone on the staff is. I ended up getting a more personal tour and in-depth information right from him. He let me know that this had been an idea in his head for about 15 years, but he really started working on it three years ago. They had to rework so many aspects after COVID in order to make things that were meant to be touched, contactless.
If you’ve seen the Babydolls in parade, you’ve probably seen the designs featured in Umbrella Strut. In this room, you can get to create a Boomerang featuring spinning umbrellas by using the QR code you receive at registration.
Next, step into the fitting room of your dreams with Costume Closet featuring vanity areas and Mardi Gras Indian costumes and headdresses.
The tour was coming to an end, then I hear “Go DJ” playing from the speakers and I look up to see a giant Lil Wayne head hanging from the ceiling, grill blinging, dreads swinging. The Garden of Legends features larger than life sized busts of iconic New Orleans musicians. Jonny told me that thanks to the commission received from JAMNOLA, Skye Erie, this room’s artist, was able to open her own studio. Love to see it!
On your way out, make sure to check out the gift shop. I really enjoyed this place, thanks so much for having me!
Know before you go:
- JAMNOLA is located at 2832 Royal St.
- Hours are Sun-Mon & Weds-Thurs 11am-6pm. Fri-Sat 11am-8pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
- Everyone must wear a mask the entire time and will be temperature checked at entry. Hand sanitizer is available throughout.
- Tickets are $29 and must be purchased online in advance. No tickets available at the door. Use code NOLALOVE for a 15% discount during the month of August.
- Tours have ticketed times and can only be in groups up to 6.