Bourgeois' son Elliot in the Harouni Gallery on Royal Street in New Orleans.

From the Editor: Fat Chance

My three-year-old is an art critic. Well, not actually. But I think he has potential.

“Big fat art” is how he refers to pieces he likes. My only explanation for that moniker is that he likes those ridiculously large pieces that artists display in their galleries. And their galleries are places that my son knows well.

When we go to New Orleans, his favorite activity isn’t the zoo or the aquarium or the insectarium. It’s walking up and down Royal looking into the art galleries. His favorite one? Harouni.

Photo by Jordan Hefler

It was in Harouni’s gallery that “big fat art” first became a thing. My son had just started to walk, and we stopped in on our way to brunch. Harouni was painting a larger-than-life face—featureless, of course, as is his signature. My son took one look at it, and “big fat art” was born.

My son knows what he likes when it comes to art. Maybe it’s because I showed him some fancy, Picasso-themed high-contrast cards when he was an infant. Or maybe it’s his ABCs of Art book that uses iconic works to teach the alphabet. Or maybe it just comes naturally to him.

When he was a baby, my mom would take him on “art tours” around her house. My parents have always loved art, and their house is an eclectic reflection of that. Everything from Hunt Slonem to a street artist my dad met at a stoplight in New Orleans grace the walls of their home. And that’s the way they like it.

Every time I see my dad connect with a piece of art, it reminds me of my son and that day in Harouni’s gallery. There’s something about art that unites us with our inner child. The right piece? It makes our imagination shine through the haze of adulthood.

In my son’s room, a piece of “big fat art” he chose himself proudly hangs over his dresser. A featureless face composed of bright reds and yellows and one bold swath of baby blue isn’t the typical choice for a toddler’s bedroom. But who cares?

One day, when he’s older and no longer lives under my roof, I know he’ll look at that painting and remember how much he loved it as a child. I hope it transports him back to those easier, carefree days. I hope it reminds him of those afternoons on Royal Street. And I hope it has sparked a life for him that is informed by vibrancy and imagination.

Speaking of: This month’s cover story takes a deep dive into the life and work of German artist Simon Röhlen, also known as KEF!. Since making his first trip to the United States, notably to Baton Rouge, he has become a fixture in the Capital City, with his intriguing works not only in the homes of many around town but also gracing the façade of buildings like Overpass Merchant. Read more about Röhlen and his work here.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not expecting my son to become an international art star. I wouldn’t complain. But that’s not what is important, of course. For now, I’m content to walk with him while he enjoys plenty of “big fat art.”

See y’all on Royal Street!