Editor’s Letter: Party City

Executive Director Cameron Shaw introduces our series on partying, just in time for Carnival, our fifth birthday, and the opening of Pelican Bomb Gallery X.

Detail of a postcard showing the Rex parade on Camp Street in New Orleans on Mardi Gras, 1907. Via the New York Public Library.

Last night was and is my favorite party of the year. Despite what the calendar says, when Krewe of Muses gets rolling down St. Charles, that’s when my Carnival begins. I’ve done it the same way for the past six seasons and have no desire to change. I don one of several wigs I own—this time it was a grass-green beehive—and head to Herbsaint with my husband. A rotating cast of old and new friends have joined us over the years—all are welcomed. What matters most to me is that, by the moment the first glittered heel is thrown, I’m up on those restaurant bleachers. It’s a splurge for sure—the most money I’ll likely spend on a single night of entertainment all year—but it’s worth it for the feeling I get as that glowing Muses orb billows down the street. That’s the thing about traditions—the fun is as much in what you know won’t change as in the anticipation of everything that will.

In addition to Carnival, we at Pelican Bomb have a lot to celebrate this month. February marks our five-year anniversary and the opening of Pelican Bomb Gallery X, our first dedicated exhibition space. We’re planning many different approaches to exhibition making over the next year at 1612 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, but we’re kicking things off properly—with a party. We’ve invited print publication and artist project Momma Tried to create a site-specific installation and party experience that will transport visitors to some of history’s most decadent celebrations, real and imagined. And we’re using the Art Review to look at the important role that partying plays in our lives as fundamentally social creatures. We’re always exploring how contemporary art and visual culture can help us understand ourselves and our connections to others, so we’ve invited a host of contributors to think about parties in all their diversity—as sites of tradition, resistance, desire, and aesthetic fulfillment. We’ll cover everything from the art historical—touching on artists like Jason Rhoades, Ebony G. Patterson, and, of course, Andy Warhol—to the unapologetically corporeal—those nights when our writers left it all on the dance floor. And like everything we do, we’re taking it seriously…but that doesn’t mean we’re not having fun.