Thursday, September 15, 2005
Lori and "M" took Carolyn to the dentist and purchased her top and bottom teeth. Thank You Jesus that we can provide for those who need to know You.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Article published Sep 13, 2005
New Orleans portrait artist says he’ll make his mark in Tuscaloosa
By Katie Porterfield
TUSCALOOSA | When his 25-year-old daughter in New York heard that he was thinking about staying here, she thought he’d lost his mind. But 80-year-old New Orleans artist Jay Langhorne assured her that he knew exactly what he was doing.
“I told her to cut it out," he said. “I said, 'Before I met your mother, I was traveling and living all over the place by myself. I’m capable of living somewhere where I don’t know anybody. You just gotta get out and talk to people.’ "
Jay, who hadn’t even heard of Tuscaloosa before Hurricane Katrina forced him and his wife, Marie, to evacuate New Orleans, is looking forward to starting over in Tuscaloosa. In fact, the Jackson Square artist, who has been sketching portraits with charcoal and pastels for about 50 years, said he was bored with New Orleans.
“I had been wanting to leave for some time, but I didn’t know where to go," he said. “But then Katrina came and didn’t give us a choice."
Jay, his wife, his 19-year-old daughter, Ophelia, and their two dogs evacuated after Jay convinced his family, who wanted to weather the storm in New Orleans, that the Katrina threat was real.
“He saved our lives," Marie said. “We’re definitely grateful that he scared us into leaving."
The Langhornes jumped in the car and headed north with few belongings. Like many evacuees, they said they thought they would be able to return home after only a couple of days. They stopped first at a Jameson Inn in Birmingham because it allows pets and then continued to the Jameson Inn in Tuscaloosa.
Just days after their arrival, more than two weeks ago, Marie answered their hotel room door to find a stranger, Tuscaloosa resident Steve Mills, willing to help them. Mills and his wife, Teresa, wanted to assist evacuees, so Mills contacted the Jameson Inn and asked the hotel to direct him to a family.
At first, Marie said they didn’t need anything, but gradually, she and Jay let the Mills help. The Mills have provided the Langhornes with food, clothing and other items.
“The people of this city will always be No. 1 in our hearts, because they have been so good to us," Marie said. “Teresa and Steve Mills have given us everything we needed and more."
They even took Jay to Michaels to purchase art supplies.
“I told him, 'Now I’ve been feeding you, you have to draw my family’s portraits,’" Teresa said, laughing. “And the more he draws, the more he brightens up."
Before the football game Saturday, the Mills got permission for Jay to set up on The Quad, where he sketched at least six portraits.
“I loved it," he said. “It was great. People were all over the place."
Although Ophelia left last week to attend college in Boston and Marie plans to return, for at least a year, to New Orleans, Jay is here to stay. The Mills found an efficiency for him in Clara Verner Tower, where he hopes to move by the end of the week.
They’re trying to get him into Kentuck Festival, and he’ll continue to work The Quad before football games. He also wants to start drawing landscapes again.
He’ll keep drawing as long as he’s able.
“It’s the only thing I know how to do," he said, “And it’s the only thing I want to do."
After all, it’s all about what attracted him to drawing in the first place.
“Two chairs, paper, and an easel out in God’s blue sky," he said. “This is it."
Reach Katie Porterfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 722-0206.