Artist Joseph “Jo Jo” Jilbert has big plans for his adopted neighborhood.
Jilbert, who calls himself a green artist, is celebrating the reopening of his Mid City business Friday with a party from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
His artwork will be on display, and food from his Jambalaya Shoppe, which will soon be called House of Jamba, will fill plates.
“What you throw away, I sculpt into a greener planet,” he said. All of his sculptures are made with scrap metal he either collects himself or that people bring to him.
He’s spent the past month arranging several of his pieces, which vary in size from 2-foot-high tabletop statues to those 6 feet or more, in front of the Jambalaya Shoppe and in just about every yard along the residential portion of Hebert Street in Capital Heights.
“Everybody brings me scraps. Everybody. And I can always find the story in it,” Jilbert said.
All of his pieces are for sale, he said, and he also offers statue rental.
He’ll also have a bar set up outside, along with a band, several outdoor tables, a DJ, inflatable houses for the children, cotton candy and snow cones. When night falls, the statues will be lit, he said.
The celebration is a grand reopening of sorts of what will soon change from the Jambalaya Shoppe to the House of Jamba, though the menu will be the same. He plans to add many more elements over the coming months.
Jilbert also runs his own art education program of sorts, called Art and Seek. He gives talks about green living at schools, then has children collect any metal pieces they find for about three months, and he makes a sculpture out of them.
“Part of the game is they have to come find their pieces in my sculpture,” Jilbert said. It helps children see from an early age that a metal hook can also be an ear, a metal bolt a strand of hair, if you look at it in the right way.”
Jilbert also will be raffling off one of his sculptures, called “The Life of a Cypress Knob,” to help a fellow artist, 11-year-old actress Sadie Fontenot, with expenses as she travels to Los Angeles this summer to further her acting career.
Tickets will be $10 each and can be purchased at the Jambalaya Shoppe/House of Jamba, where the statue is located.