Artist Marianne Angeli Rodriguez Shares Her Creative Inspiration and Covington, Louisiana Favorites
I was always very creative as a child," says painter and mixed-media artist Marianne Angeli Rodriguez (@marianneangelirodriguez). "My first dedication to making art was for my dad, who traveled a lot for work. I would give him a handmade card every time he left home to say just how much I loved and would miss him." While her fondness for creativity remained a constant through her family's intercontinental moves, Marianne's journey to becoming a professional artist took several detours. She studied anthropology and communications in New York; worked in public relations; attended fashion-design school; visited Nairobi, Kenya, to teach sewing to a women's HIV/AIDS collective; started jewelry and clothing lines; and moved to New Orleans, where she painted bridal and beauty illustrations for local magazines. "I was tired of working small; I didn't find that liberating," says Marianne of the freelance-illustration gigs. "So I went to the store one day, bought a larger canvas, and just started painting. It was such an amazing release and felt like the truest expression of myself." Marianne relocated to Covington, Louisiana, five years ago and is still at it, filling her downtown gallery with high-energy works influenced by the cultures of the many places she's lived. Here, she talks art, inspiration, and how she's hit her creative stride in small-town Louisiana.
How Covington Empowers Me
"Living here gives me the mental space to feel relaxed and create. We have so much greenery and open areas, and nature just does something for the soul. Covington is such a quaint and charming town. It really caters to mom-and-pop shops, which encourages me to always offer something special. It also gives me the room to be authentic and be a bit more thoughtful in my process and not feel stressed out."
Creatives I Admire
"We're lucky to have so many artists in nearby New Orleans, but I try not to turn to them for inspiration. I love to look at decorators. They're the magical hands that bring a vision together in a space. Shauna Glenn (@shaunaglenn) is based in Fort Worth, and I've enjoyed working with her and really respect her creative perspective. In New Orleans, there's Liz Kamarul (@liz_kamarul). Her aesthetic is funky and kind of unexpected. Judy Aldridge (@atlantishome) and Natalie Papier (@home_ec_op) are two more of my favorites."
Where I Find Inspiration
"My art is a representation of all the influences I've collected from living abroad. I really love to look at ceremonial dress, like festival costumes. I enjoy studying sculpture, textile art, and jewelry—things that are tactile—and figuring out a way to translate that in paint. I want all my pieces to have an eclectic, worldly feel to them."
My Approach to Style
"There's an easygoingness about my work and the way I dress. About 95% of the time, I'm covered in paint and wearing a uniform of leggings and cutoff T-shirts. I also have five rescue pets. My hands are constantly in something. Dressing up just isn't very practical for me, but when I do, I pick something relaxed and comfortable with a pop of fun—a bright color or a metallic somewhere or a statement earring—something that's a little surprise."
Why Art is More Important than Ever
"I have a small circle of creative friends I've stayed in contact with during this whole weird year, and we've had the conversation about art being essential versus nonessential. I think that when you're in such a low moment, as we've all been during the pandemic, the things that can brighten your soul are art, music, and food. Art is full of color and celebration. I believe everyone can find a sanctuary there."
Advice for Collectors
"Art will speak to you differently when it's the right piece. I've learned that it's also important to think about who is living with you and will experience it. I always encourage families to pick out a new piece together. Parents often come in with their children, and they'll ask certain questions like, 'What do you see in this? How does this work make you feel?' I think that's such a lovely thing."
A Lesson Learned
"I'm a first-generation immigrant to the U.S. My parents left my home country of the Philippines for better opportunities, so I think it was hard for them to accept that I was going into a creative career. The beautiful thing is that they let me figure it out. They taught me the meaning of integrity and exemplified what hard work can attain. Pursuing art, though rebellious in a sense, is a tribute to them. I wake up and think, 'Wow! I can't believe I get to do this.' I'm grateful every day."
Highlights of Covington
Marianne shares some of her hometown favorites
"Meribo is the best place for pizza! They also have a variety of modern Italian dishes and a fabulous happy hour menu. The space is bright, inviting, and family friendly."
"Lola restaurant is set in an old train station, and the kitchen is in the caboose. They offer Southern food and bake all of their own breads, pastries, and custom cakes—such a treat!"
"At Brooks' Bike Shop, they do repairs, tune-ups, and even rentals. They're located right on the Tammany Trace, a trail that stretches 31 miles across five communities."
"Head to Hoodoo Ice Cream for thoughtfully sourced desserts. They have all the classic flavors, plus unique combos like Honey Lavender and Creole Cream Cheese."
"Mo's Art Supply & Framing is right next door to my gallery. I get my specialty papers from them. Aside from their broad range of art supplies, they also sell fun, quirky gifts."