Saturday, November 14, 2015

Abita Springs, Louisiana

Yesterday, Friday, was one of those days when we left our home not knowing how our day was going to unfold.  We are parked in Hammond, Louisiana the home of our niece Kat.  We met her for lunch, she could not spend much more time with us because she had to work at 2PM.  We are hoping that some time while we are here we can find more time to spend with her.  Besides working full-time Kat is carrying a heavy college schedule.  She recommended the town of Covington, which has art galleries, antique shops, as well as a brew house.  After lunch we drove to that town, but only passed through it.  The traffic was heavy and we were just not inclined to stop.  John had heard of the town of Abita Springs, so thinking that perhaps there is a  picturesque spring area there, we drove out of Covington and took a road leading to Abita.  Coming into that town we followed the first signs which directed us to Audubon Park.
In the park we were immediately drawn to a sculpture of an Indian princess bent over a bubbling fountain of water.  We learned later that it was not one of the springs which are in the area.  A sign nearby indicated that the sculpture was created in 2009 and is called "Princess Abita".   According to legend she was married to a young Spaniard during the colonial period, fell ill and after her husband returned her to the healing waters of her village, she recovered.  In a museum located in the park we learned more of the history of the area, including the fact that the pavilion pictured above was part of an exhibit during the World's Fair of New Orleans in 1884.  Hurricane Katrina cut her in one- half, she has been restored since then.
In the museum I saw an interesting picture, similar to the one above, and asked where that building is located.  The staff member gave us directions and, upon my query as to the nature of that museum, she just said that it was a bit unusual and could not begin to describe it.  We gave up any more ideas of hiking in the park to search for natural springs (we did find one) and headed to the U C M  Museum.  It was now 4PM and that museum closed in an hour.   It was easy to find the vintage gas station which serves as the entrance and gift shop.  In addition to that small building, the museum is a labyrinth of old buildings (one of which is a 90 year-old Creole cottage) connected by walkways.  Another one of the buildings is an old barn built in the 1920s.  Now it is a House of Shards.  On an exterior wall is 15,000 pieces of ceramic plate, tiles, colored glass and mirrors.  Behind this building is the Patio of Compassion and the Shed of Revelation.
Guess you get the picture by now, a mystery museum for sure?  A bit strange, whimsical, and also humorous.  John Preble, the owner is an artist of many talents.  His paintings are displayed here, as well as a large collection of bottle caps, wacky postcards, vintage signs, old arcade machines, and a large paint-by-number collection.  Preble started collecting the latter in the 1970s.  He say that despite their recent popularity and inflation,  he has refused to pay more than one dollar for one.
Preble has also collected more than 50,000 recycled objects  and presented them creatively in many humorous animated southern displays, as the Martians at Mardi Gras pictured below.
That was our day Friday, certainly a very serendipitous one for sure!

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