The 7th Ward - contained between Broad, Elysian Fields, Claiborne and the 610 - is full of feral chickens that are said to have escaped captivity during Katrina and thrived on the streets since. I built a chicken coop at home and had not expected so many wild avian visitors. To both my frustration and amusement, I have spotted many feral chickens sneaking in to grab some food from my feeders. This particular rooster depicted in my painting ingratiated himself to my hens by bringing them bugs and actually started sleeping in the coop with them at night. Though I tried a few times to shoo him away, his presence eventually grew on me as well and I was resigned to have him hang out. New Orleans actually has an ordinance that allows keeping hens but bans roosters as "exotic pets", and I find it funny how uncontrollable the wild population actually is and how helpless I was to be in compliance. The rooster epitomized what I see as a very New Orleanian obstinance to the rules. His breed- a game bird - is a type of chicken that displays a resilience and fierceness that historically has been channeled into cock fighting - a world I would have thought so far removed from my little backyard garden with its rain barrels and composting system. While this rooster was with me, he would aggressively protect my yard from other wild birds. To my horror I found him many times stumbling back bloody and victorious. His story testifies to the permeability of our shared lives within this city and the inevitability of New Orleans' past to resurface in surprising and sometimes tender ways.
**Original oil painting auctioned in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art's 'O What a Night' gala January, 2022**