Yes, it’s conference time once again and although I know we’ll all be very busy, there are times when we want and need to escape from the conference craziness and just roam the city for a little bit on our own. For those of you who’ve attended ALA in New Orleans before, you probably have your own favorite haunts; for me, because I love bringing home artsy souvenirs, these three galleries have always been wonderful to poke around in.

The first gallery I discovered many years ago is Rhino Gallery and it’s located on the third floor of The Shops at Canal Place [at the bottom of Canal St]. Browse through their website and you’ll find lots of items to entice you. Although all these shops will mail items home, you might want to buy some of their handmade note cards as they’re easy to slip into your carry-on bag. You’ll also be intrigued with their cases and cases of jewelry with prices that seemed fairly reasonable.

Several years after Rhino Gallery, I was looking for a public bathroom and stumbled into the Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op. Tracy Thomson’s Kabuki Hats are carried here, along with some great costume jewelry, beautiful scarves, and many other items. However, I really like the hats designed by Tracy, especially the straw ones that can fold flat to fit in your suitcase. This shop is a little off the beaten path, but if you first have your coffee and beignets at Café du Monde, and then leave the Café by the back way and stroll to the French Market, you’ll pass Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op on your right [bathrooms on your left].

Recently I took the time to roam around Rougarou Bayou Gallery [official name is Rougarou Bayou Riverfront Trading Post Gallery] in the Shops located between the Hilton Riverside and the Convention Center [New Orleans Riverwalk Mall]. Rougarou Baou Gallery is located on the ground floor. The woman who waited on me was very knowledgeable about the paintings, explaining who each artist was. I couldn’t resist a reasonably priced oil of the Cathedral at Jackson Square, but was told the artist could be found at the Square selling her paintings there, too. So you have options for where to buy some items. Their website is but I experienced problems using it, so you might want to just google the gallery’s name and approach it via another website.

One of the nice parts about buying artwork in New Orleans is that you don’t pay any state tax. You do have to complete a form and all these galleries gave me one to complete. If you’re charged tax, do ask why as you’d shouldn’t be charged.

And if you find some favorite folk and fine art galleries, do let me know!

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