Inside the rambling 1877 town house that is Upperline, visitors and locals alike may discover something new about the Crescent City. That is because inside a treasure trove of 400 art objects and memorabilia accumulated over 40 years by JoAnn Clevenger — each of them with New Orleans associations — awaits the fortunate visitor.
Shelves and walls are packed full with paintings, drawings, art pottery, sculpture, antique mannequins, photographs, Jazzfest posters, and even a sugar bowl saved from the Bourbon House, a now departed French Quarter haunt where JoAnn used to rub shoulders with Tennessee Williams, Lee Friedlander and other bohemians in the late 1950s. “I like to think I am fitting all my favorite parts of New Orleans under one roof,” JoAnn says.
JoAnn sometimes compares her art to the dazzling flower arrangements that stand on the restaurant’s Art Deco bar. “Sharing with others is a big part of why I do this – its gone way beyond decorating a restaurant. The flowers are there for today, they are a gift,” she says. “And though the art has more longevity, it’s also a reminder to take pleasure in the journey – not just the destination. Isn’t that why we live in New Orleans?”