Art News Blog Sunday, Apr 26 2009 

 I somewhat keep a running list of art and graphic designs I have done in a blog I call “Art News”. It started out as some odd news articles for April Fools Day but was an easy place to add in an announcement of what new designs I made. When Twitter came along I could add in all my Tweets. So it is a busy place with a lot of short blog entries but a good place to learn and see a lot of my graphic designs. Whenever I do a new design I add in a picture and link to it and I also add in other older designs as people ask about them. Here is that link-

That Old Crawfish: What’s In The Name? Thursday, Apr 16 2009 

The word “Crawfish ” comes from the Cajun French word “escrevisse“.  Many places use other names, crayfish, crawdad, mudbug but we here in Louisiana prefer “crawfish”. No matter what it is called it is a favorite food in spring. Boiled Crawfish with corn, potatoes, garlic, sausage and more is served at many family picnic or back yard party. I am told the real scientific name is Astacoidea Cambardae and there are over 300 types in North America alone, a big family even by Cajun standards.  The art of boiling them was covered in another blog entry but it is easy just get any of the boiling spice packages from Rex or Zatarain’s and follow the directions. To make it real fancy people add in corn on the cob, and other veggies that boil well, even artichokes. Whatever you like add in the boiling water and have friends over.

One time I even wrote a fable about a Cajun Mermaid, part crawfish part woman on how the first Cajun ate the beautiful red swamp crawfish.

Cajun Mermaid design at Fig Street Studio

Cajun Mermaid design at Fig Street Studio

I use the crawfish too in many of my gift designs sold on the web at I would think along with the Fleur De Lis, the Crawfish is a symbol of Louisiana. See the Fleur De Marais design here:

Crawfish Fleur De Lis design at Fig Street Studio

Crawfish Fleur De Lis design at Fig Street Studio

Crawfish designs sold by Fig Street Studio

Crawfish designs sold by Fig Street Studio

By whatever name it is called it is a fun delicious food found in the swamps of South Louisiana, the swamps we must all protect as they once protected us.

New Basin Canal Lighthouse Monday, Apr 13 2009 

NEW ORLEANS - MAY 29:  Carlos Alvaranga sits o...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Ceramic Tile Sold at Fig Street Studio

Ceramic Tile Sold at Fig Street Studio

 Growing up at West End on Lake Pontchartrain I would often ride my bike to the Lakeshore and fish. I would use a small caste net and caste for shrimp. Then use the small shrimp to fish, mostly for mullets. Once when I was about 7 years old while casting next to the lighthouse I slipped on the green slim that grows on the steps of the seawall  and fell into the mucky lake waters. Lucky for me I did not get tangled in the net but did get cut up on barnacles as I grabbed for the concrete. Opening my eyes I could see the light  and pushed from the concrete through the waves up and when I emerged I could see the lighthouse. Grabbing on a step I climbed out of the water and caught my breath looking all the time at the lighthouse. Since that time that lighthouse has been special for me and when Katrina destroyed it I was concerned after all it was  the beacon that saved me from the murky water that day 53 years ago. Lucky for me I have a collection of photos I have taken over the years and several paintings to now keep me company as they repair and rebuild the lighthouse. Hopefully I can be there when it is done.

Print sold at Fig Street Studio

Print sold at Fig Street Studio

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The Ghost in Pirates Alley Thursday, Mar 26 2009 

The First Wedding In Pirates Alley New Orleans

The tradition of being married in Pirates Alley in the French Quarter is clouded in secrecy and varies as who tells the tale. One is never sure who was actually the first to get married there but this tale as told to me often during my life is a sure as any tale of pirates, ghosts, and love. Back in the days of the Pirates of Barataria many young men from many places joined in to make a fortune. Called “smugglers” by some, hated by Spain, used by France but admired by Americans as an independent lot who at times would help the poor and ill treated.

I am told one Reginald Hicks, who began as a mere cabin boy on an English ship was taken by some pirates and raised by them. Only a lad in his early teens when captured ultimately raised himself to a first mate of a pirate ship by the time of the War of 1812. He was trusted by all his pirate brethren and their leader Jean Lafitte. He was known to go along with several other men to met with General Jackson to aid the Americans in the Battle of New Orleans, mostly as “cannoneers” as they were very good shots.
Of course Master Hicks was a good looking young man having many a lass looking at him but in his heart was none other but a beautiful Creole French girl, Marie Angel Beauchamp. She too had only thoughts of him and whenever he came into the City they would steal off into the night, keeping their love a secret as it was not permissible for a young  Creole Catholic girl to be seeing a Pirate of English extraction.

As things would happen on Master Hicks’ visit to meet with General Jackson he learned that his Marie was expecting their child. He being raised as an English gentleman his first decade of life did not want to leave the city without getting married. His child would have a father and his love would not be scorned for having a child without a husband. All evening they searched in vain for a priest to marry them but most required that they both be Catholic, others would not think of doing a ceremony on such short notice. Eventually they had two options, simply jumping a broom down in Barataria or seeking out a German born baker in the jail who was also an ordained Protestant minister. Master Hicks did not want to take Marie to Barataria which meant she would have to stay and may never see her family and friends in the city again.  So they very early in the morning made their way to the Cabildo and asked the jail’s warden if they could speak with the German Minister. He would only allow them to see him through the iron gate facing Orleans Alley. But right there and then they were married. Soon gathered many early arriving workers and some visitors who witnessed the first wedding in Pirates Alley. Documents drawn and signed by a Notary on his way to file others for record at the Cabildo and all present signed making the marriage both Civil and Religious.
Here again the story varies as exactly what happened. What happened to Master Reginald Hicks remains a mystery, some say he was killed in the Battle of New Orleans and seeks out his lovely Marie nightly in Pirates Alley today as a spirit. Others say he and Marie left for Galveston with Pirate Lafitte after Louisiana was sold to America. But if you go to Pirates Alley early in the morning on the right day of the right month you can hear laughter and celebration and wedding bells and a cold breeze passes you by. Could it be the ghost of Master Hicks seeking his bride?

Believe as you may.

Today couples can still get married in Pirates Alley  by a German Protestant wedding officiant. For more in formation visit his web page at:

JK Schwehm at Fig Street.
Copyright 2003 [Fig Street, LLC]. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 25,2009 by the author

Magnolia Tree At City Park Wednesday, Mar 25 2009 

  Acrylic painting on paper of a Magnolia Tree at City Park in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.  The tree was destroyed by the hurricane and is no longer there. This painting is an interpretation of the Van Gogh “Chestnut Tree in Bloom”. Van Gogh painted his tree in 1890, this interpretation was done in 2003 by JK Schwehm, New Orleans artist. The artist did several interpretations of Van Gogh’s paintings using local New Orleans places. The print is sold on the web and can be purchased on cards and postcards at
 Many more prints, framed, canvas, smaller sizes at Fig Street Art Studio sold on the web and in the French Quarter at Arius Tiles on St Peter St.

Mississippi Queen Under The Hill in Natchez, MS Wednesday, Mar 25 2009 

Natchez is the oldest small town on the Mississippi river. Natchez was the first capital of the Mississippi Territory in 1798. Natchez Under The Hill was a boat landing established for the boats to unload and load. It was a rough spot with bars and boatmen for many years. In 1837 the merchants of the town of Natchez made an effort to clean up the area with the help of a storm finally the rough Under The Hill area tamed down. The Mississippi Queen was built in 1976 and has cruised along the mighty Mississippi river, it has been out of service but scheduled to begin trips  again soon. The painting was done from a photo taken while the boat was docked  Under the Hill taking on supplies.
The Mississippi Queen River Boat moored at Natchez, Ms under the Hill in 1998, painted by JK Schwehm, New orleans artist.  This acrylic painting can be purchased on the web printed on paper or canvas. The original not for sale it also appears on note cards and a book cover. Prints are available at

Prints on canvas available here-

Starry Night Riverboat print
Starry Night Riverboat by figstreetstudio
Browse all the other art on zazzle

Art Sales Tumble Friday, Mar 6 2009 

Listening to MSNBC and CNBC yesterday a commentator said to cut back on unnecessary spending, save, as things will get worse. I noticed with all the talk the last few months art sales have tumbled to about 40% of what they were last year this time. I am sure things are bad as we read about GM going belly up but I never did sell big ticket items that ate gasoline like I like to eat ice cream, several gallons a minute. I always lived responsible and never owned a big SUV gas guzzler, yatch, swimming pool, or condo in Spain. Although the condo in Spain does sound like a good idea now. My retirement acount is also about half its value now, but I am sure GW will have no problems with his retirement now. It feels good to point out to my friends all those wars cost us our savings, not his.
To combat the falling art sales I have discounted deeply and hope people see that art does not cost much, does not burn gasoline, sits comfortably on a wall and causes us to relax. Something we can do as our elected officials move forward to correct the past mistakes. I am turning off MSNBC and CNBC to save electricity in my part of cutting back. Only news I am interested in is art history and painting something new.  How about a portrait of your puppy?

History of Statue At Jackson Square Wednesday, Mar 4 2009 



Some years back I read in the local paper that someone was able to take the sword off the statue of Gen. Andrew Jackson and a new one had to be made. Lucky for us the statue in Jackson Square is one of three made by an American artist and the first equestrian statue to be done in the USA. Back then I had to go to the New Orleans Public Library to find out information on Clark Mills but today it is easier to research things about art and New Orleans using the Internet. Clark Mills (1810–83 born NY) was a self trained American sculptor who completely designed and cast the statue for Lafayette Square in 1853 at Washington, DC . The statue was so remarkable that a committee in New Orleans asked him to cast another for the Place D’Arms which upon dedication in 1856 was renamed Jackson Square. Eventually a total of three were cast, the one in Washington, DC, New Orleans and another near Jackson’s birthplace in Tennessee. Like most things I paint in New Orleans I always like to know more so when I paint it I can relate to it better. Lucky for me I have been able to visit each statue and will be in Washington, DC This summer to visit art there and will stop in Lafayette Square and see the original statue again.

 Did you know that Philadelphia also has the same statue of Joan of Art as in the French Quarter?


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Cool Kids Clothing Saturday, Feb 7 2009 

Kids clothing is expensive and most kids wear things a month and it is too small. Cool Kids T-Shirts are an easy to get and great for what a child to wear. Inexpensive, fashionable, and can be personalized for your child. Stop in and see the many designs and ask them to make a shirt especially for your child. Cool Kids Clothing at Fig Street Art Studio from New Orleans artists to your child. Cool Kids Clothing


Mardi Gras Kids Clothing Saturday, Feb 7 2009 

Throw Me Something

Throw Me Something



Mardi Gras celebrated in Europe for ages was brought to the USA by French and Spanish colonists, the first parade was in Mobile, Alabama, but later New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras on a bigger scale. The current tradition people and families mask or costume in various styles and manners and walk around celebrating the last day before Lent. Fat Tuesday as it is called at times because no more meat to Easter. Children love to dress up for Mardi Gras and over the years we at Fig Street Studio have designed several comical shirts and sweatshirts for infants and kids of all ages see for the many images found on shirts for Mardi Gras and especially the children’s designs, add a mask and you are all set for Mardi Gras.



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