“I love the idea of showcasing Louisiana artists, but there are a lot of places that already do that,” said Lila Heymann, owner of the Foundation Gallery and the new Absinthe Minded Boutique on Julia Street. 47 year-old Heymann and her younger sister, Joan Heymann-Bergmann, tag-team the two art spaces which raise money for the Heymann Foundation, a foundation started by their father 35 years ago.
The Foundation Gallery opened in January of 2012. Every two months, the sisters organize an art show to benefit specific causes. Since Katrina, the majority of their causes have been NoLa-based. The gallery exhibit currently on display is for the Bridge House/Grace House, which are safe haven locations for recovering addicts and alcoholics.
Although both Heymann sisters have similar political ideals, their individual interests in fundraising vary, allowing them to donate and promote a huge range of topics. Joan, for instance, likes to do a lot of work with animal causes, so they’ve worked with the LASPCA. The sisters are also very dedicated to The Alzheimer’s Association, as they lost their mother to the disease.
“There are a lot of well-meaning, social-conscious people out there, but creating awareness of some of these causes that don’t directly affect [potential donors] is a challenge,” Heymann said. In other words, people who aren’t affected by Alzheimer’s don’t know much about it. People who haven’t been touched by addiction don’t focus on it in their day-to-day lives.
Joan and Lila Heymann had “an idyllic childhood, as far as material offerings go,” but the sisters are more than aware that they are the exception. The Foundation Gallery sells high quality original artwork so buyers are making very large donations when they purchase. But, as Heymann put it, “It’s almost in poor form to ask people to spend $10,000 all the time and it’s important that what we engage in reflects our respect for that.”
The sisters, therefore, recently opened The Absinthe Minded Boutique, a companion to the Gallery, as their way of giving people more latitude about what they can spend money on. At the Absinthe Minded Boutique, merchandise starts as low as $5. They carry mass produced images (often from the Gallery showings) on things like stationary. They also carry a menagerie of gorgeous jewelry and other items that make great gifts.
The next Foundation Gallery show will go up on February 23rd and will benefit the New Orleans Lead Paint Mitigation Program, which is sponsored by www.michellesearth.org. The money donated from the Heymann Foundation will benefit a daycare center on Canal Street.
To get an idea of the type of art shown at the Foundation Gallery and to see what is sold at Absinthe Minded Boutique, check out work by some of the most popular artists who have been featured so far: Joan Berg Victor and Paul Santoleri , or go to the gallery's website. Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 11-4 pm and Thursday through Saturday, 11-6pm. And, if you or someone you know is interested in submitting art to be considered for a showing in the Foundation Gallery, please contact Lila or Joan Heymann at 504-568-0955.