‘Current of sweetness inside the bittersweet’ | VailDaily.com

‘Current of sweetness inside the bittersweet’

Leslie Brefeld
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

FRISCO ” Before the levees broke, New Orleans artist Geza Brunow likened the city to Paris, where musicians, artists and filmmakers had a home.

“There was something for everyone, it was booming,” he said. “I felt like it was the last place left in the U.S. that had soul, real heart and soul.”

But in 2005, Hurricane Katrina pulled the rug out from underneath the city and its people.

Two years later, those affected are still in survival mode.

“Nobody has even had a chance to grieve … because nobody has had the chance to come out the other side,” Brunow said. “We had to hit the ground running.”

The rise in rents, crime and poor leadership made it hard for Brunow to continue to stick it out.

For a couple month’s now, he has been staying in Asheville, North Carolina. He’d been having trouble sleeping in his place in New Orleans, which was spared, and says he is exhausted from the constant struggle.

“I still feel sort of shell shocked about it,” Brunow said.

“Everyone is living with this traumatic experience and no one has had any therapy since all the medical professionals left.”

He cites a new cropping of health and wellness spas up and down Magazine Street as evidence of this unmet need.

Brunow had been living in New Orleans and capturing the location’s vibrant essence through painting for the last 10 years. In the storm he lost his studio and several other large pieces. They were stored at a friend’s house in Mississippi, which was hit by a 35-foot tidal wave.

Yet, he notes, “There are people who have lost a lot more.”

Living in the aftermath, the artist was able to find the thread that was keeping the community breathing.

Brunow’s inspiration for his new exhibit, “State of Natural Grace” ” “comes from a place of positivity, from the place that we get our source of strength.”

“These paintings are kind of like an offering; remember this, remember this sweet thread we had. In the paintings you think about all these moments where you would pause and appreciate the city.”

Ten of Brunow’s pieces will be at the WildSide Studio in Frisco for one week beginning Saturday.

“With the show, I’m not focusing on the tragedy so much, but the current of sweetness inside the bittersweet,” he said.

“Without the graciousness of the community, we wouldn’t have been able to get through it. We’re living in this state of grace until that time when New Orleans finally heals ” which is going to take a long time.”

He said the community had at first hoped things would turn around quickly, but are now hoping for it in 10 years.

Although he’s left the city and is not sure when or if he will return, he said he will consider himself a New Orleans resident no matter where he goes.

“New Orleans has this strange magnetic quality. You can’t get too far away or leave without getting sucked back in,” Brunow said. “Everyone is hoping that it will heal.”

Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or lbrefeld@summitdaily.com.

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