Meet Connan, Our New Orleans Street Artist Friend
UPDATE! As of 6/21/2017, Connan has an apartment and is off the street! There is more work to do to get him stabilized, but this is a huge step forward.
This is Connan. Shane Speal and I met him in January, 2016 during the New Orleans CBG festival, and I spent some time with him again this year. He is a street artist and performer who (until June 21, 2017) had been living homeless on the streets of New Orleans for around 10 years. He is also a veteran, often talking of his time with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.
Usually he can be found somewhere around Frenchmen or Decatur Streets, in the French Quarter. In the photo to the right, he is performing on Orleans Street (that's the back side of the famous St. Louis Cathedral visible behind him) on the cigar box guitar that I gave to him this year.
Connan is a gifted artist, and we have begun using some of his designs on products. Connan gets a royalty for every item that sells which bears his artwork. This money goes towards helping him cover the rent on his new apartment and other expenses necessary to keeping him off the street and living a more healthy lifestyle.
Want to help support this effort? Check out these links:
Donate directly to the Connan fund by adding one of these three Donation items to your cart:
I talk to Connan every few days, and send down care packages once a week. I am also keeping a journal of our interactions and the stories he tells. I'll be adding updates to our weekly newsletters and our Facebook page as his story unfolds.
There are already some stories to share… like how his little CBG was stolen and recovered on Mardis Gras night... or his story of how he once got in a shouting match with Junior Wells about how to play the harmonica...
Here’s to music, and cigar box guitars, making a positive difference in peoples’ lives!
- Ben “Gitty” Baker
Connan's sidewalk setup, with his artwork, tip box and cigar box guitar.
He calls it his "publicity booth."
Ben Gitty spent a couple of hours with Connan in January 2017, during the New Orleans CBG festival, sitting outside the Envie Cafe on Decatur Street and making some music. Connan checked out and played Ben's 2-Cent Genny cigar box guitar, and also played along on his harmonica.
Connan (in the army helmet and Army jacket) plays along with a brass band on the corner of Frenchmen and Chartres streets, on the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans, by banging on the metal light pole with a drumstick.
Connan in his natural habitat, in between cigar box guitar performances.
Our first time meeting Connan, in January of 2016, on the sidewalk outside the Dat Dawg hotdog shop on Frenchmen Street. That empty blue artboard in front of him would, over the course of the next two hours, become the piece of art we now call "Blue Voodoo Boogie".
The artist at work on a new drawing that was intended to be a portrait of Ben Gitty, and became a bit more...
Set up on Frenchmen Street, making art and music. March 24, 2017.
Posing with Greg Fundis, drummer for the "Zeppelin 2" Led Zeppelin tribute band. March 29, 2017.
Resting in the dog park, one of the few places he can relax without being hassled by the police. Most of what he owns is on that bike behind him. April 10, 2017.