You may see a very fancy black-tie benefit for the museum or something, but in New Orleans, we’ve always sort of celebrated our creative spirit, our artistic spirit, our differences.Don MArshall
Don Marshall was born in New Orleans in 1950 and attended Washington and Lee University. His involvement in the New Orleans art scene began with his mother, who ran both Dixie Art Supplies and the Downtown Gallery. Through his experience and involvement in the Louisiana Craft Council and the business community, he became the director of the Contemporary Arts Center in 1977. At CAC, Marshall produced numerous exhibitions and provided artists with a vibrant place to create and display their work, including theater. His work at the CAC led to the creation of the Arts District on Julia Street and what is now White Linen Night. His successful management of two theaters at the CAC led to him leading Le Petit Theater and reinvigorating this French Quarter landmark. He was instrumental in the founding of the Krewe of Clones in 1978, which was born out of the CAC. The krewe still runs today as the Krewe du Vieux. He attended the first Jazz Fest held at the Fair Grounds in 1972 and recognized its value to the city and now, as of 2004, serves as the executive director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation.
This interview focuses on Marshall’s work with the arts in New Orleans, including his involvement in the Contemporary Arts Center in the 1970s, a time when the CAC was influential in the movement of art galleries to Julia Street and the creation of the Arts District. The interview also discusses his involvement with Le Petit Theater and, eventually, his being a founding member of the Krewe of Clones and its relationship to Krewe du Vieux. He details the importance of Jazz Fest to the city and art in general as a cultural institution and covers the different cultural and economic factors that impact art in the city, and even how art is impacted by people who move to New Orleans and how the New Orleans art movement in the 1970s attracted people to the city. With the incredible contemporary art movement that took place in the 1970s, he discusses how architecture struggled to make the same advances that other artistic styles did and the economic reasons that New Orleans did not become a center for architecture while also stressing the importance of preservation of historic architecture.
Citation (CMS): Marshall, Don. Don Marshall Interview. Interview by Jack Davis and Justin A. Nystrom. Videorecording, transcript, May 21, 2014. Making Modern New Orleans Collection. Documentary and Oral History Studio, Loyola University New Orleans.
For more information about the Digital Humanities Studio’s interview collections and their use, please contact studio director Justin A. Nystrom. This interview and all related material including text and images are © 2022 Digital Humanities Studio, Loyola University New Orleans.