Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A couple of years ago, artist Andrew Jackson Pollack’s life was turned upside down by an act of God that goes by the moniker of “Katrina.” Pollack, not being one to forget his role in pleasing that old hag “lady luck,” evacuated the city when the word went out to do so. He didn’t delay and therefore his evacuation story is uneventful. “I was working in a leaky shed before the hurricane, and afterwards it was a whole lot leakier.”

Pollack’s evacuation may have been uneventful, but his return to New Orleans, however is absolutely triumphant.

“It took us eight months to return,” says Pollack. Meanwhile the gifted glass blower found teaching jobs in various places, most notably at the Chastain Arts Center in Atlanta. He also spent some time in Scottsdale, Ariz. Pollack had come to New Orleans almost a decade earlier as a student at Loyola, who had planned his preview of the school during the legendary New Orleans Jazz Festival. He stayed on after graduation to spread his wings as a promising glass blower. There was never any doubt he would return after Katrina. “We were looking for a house when Katrina hit.” His mission was delayed a little, but he just recently purchased a home where he has set up a new studio. “It’s in the Warehouse District,” he says. “You would think they would be encouraging people to come back in, but actually it was quite difficult to do buy a house and get insurance, even though it didn’t flood where we bought.

“Instead of a Tale of Two Cities, its more like a Tale of a Few Cities,” Pollack says of returning. “There are a lot of different areas, some areas have been repopulated, and if you didn’t know anything happened [you wouldn’t suspect it], but you go into certain areas and it is very depressing and sad.”

The first few weeks of his odyssey were the most trying. “We just got on the internet and looked up landmarks in our area like the Children’s hospital, which we found out didn’t flood.” Pollack and his girlfriend, Tiffany Kahrs, drew a sigh of relief concerning the possibility of looters raiding their home when they found out the National Guard were virtually camped across the street. One of their neighbors who did lose their home, did actually occupy his house, and the generous Pollack was somewhat displaced by this fact more than anything. Again, leaving nothing to chance, he continued to ply his trade, teach and then he heard about CERF, which stands for Craft Emergency Relief Fund.

“They were great!” says Pollack. “Cornielia Carrie, executive director of the organization came down here several times after Katrina. CERF gave me a loan and a grant, and helped me to get into the Rosen Show. The Rosen show is the largest wholesale craft show in the country. “There were 6,000 top galleries and trade people there,” says Pollack. “Even the Smithsonian attends.” Pollack just got back from Philadelphia, as a matter of fact, where he made lots of contacts. Currently Pollack’s work can be seen and purchased on where he had a recording breaking run on his hand blown sake sets this past Christmas season.

Pollack feels like he is in a better place than before Katrina hit, turning his life upside down. He owes it in part to CERF who gave him financial aide when he needed it most. But the enterprising artist has left nothing to chance. He has just completed his first lessons in his new studio, and he is marching forward with his life.—Ruth Mitchell

(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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