New Orleans artist Lionel Milton has fortified himself with extra painting supplies, wireless headphones, a backup battery and a column of his favorite Pandora stations. He’s ready for a daylong art competition in which 20 local artists will transform a blank, canvas drink cooler into a work of art.
The project, sponsored by Red Bull, is intended to spotlight emerging artists at cities around the nation. “It’s a vehicle to showcase your work on a different type of scale. Any project where you can put pen to paper, or paintbrush to canvas, is great,” said Milton. “It really does give you wings, in a way.”
From the Rebirth Brass Band and Mos Def to the hip-hop trio De La Soul, music is Milton’s inspiration. The project picks 20 local artists for the competition, pairs each artist with a popular venue and challenges them to create a display-worthy cooler: Milton has fittingly been paired with Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse.
The canvas works of art will be featured at Eiffel Society on Thursday, June 26, for one night only, and permanently displayed at the corresponding venue. The Eiffel event opens to the public at 8 p.m.
At the Eiffel Society event, judges and attendees will choose two works to send on to the SCOPE Art Show in Miami Beach in December.
With the mission to promote emerging artists on a national level, the tour has already visited Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland and Denver. After a stop in New Orleans, it will head to Orlando, Philadelphia and Houston.
The self-taught artist has been painting since he was 5 years old and has honed his skills through practice and passion.
A New Orleans native, Milton’s artistic inspiration is derived from live local music. His work often depicts the local entertainment scene, with vibrant colors and smooth, curved lines. The contoured shapes resemble objects in motion and possess an urban energy.
Milton said the finished work of art will be colorful, remain indigenous to New Orleans and pay homage to his fans.
“I think they will be proud of the piece that I’m creating. I put a lot of time, thought, and effort into it,” he said. “And being that I’m from here, I want to make sure it’s super nice.”