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More Winnin’ at Dirty Linen

Image courtesy of Dirty Linen Night on Facebook

Every year, the Dirty Linen Night invites New Orleanians and tourists alike to celebrate the city’s French Quarter art galleries and boutiques. The event follows the White Linen Night, usually held on the Saturday before. The Dirty Linen Night was originally conceived not to compete but as a way to encourage people to visit Royal Street and support local businesses.

This year’s event, the 18th annual Dirty Linen night, lasts from 6 to 9 p.m. (officially — the event generates its own momentum and tends to run on a little late) and will be held on Saturday, August 10. The festivities will feature dozens of participating galleries and businesses, multiple blocks of pedestrian-friendly celebrations, buskers, delicious food, drink specials, and plenty of good times. The bulk of the action will occur between the 200 and 900 blocks of Royal Street. Dirty Linen is free and open to the public, but you can also get the Dirty Linen Passport pass online ($20), which includes beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvre.

And, oh, make sure to wear unwashed white linen from the previous week — Dirty Linen is a continuation of the White Linen party, albeit one that is a little more raucous than the Julia Street event. We’re kidding, by the way — while you’re encouraged to wear last week’s linen, any kind of flowy, comfortable summer clothes will do.

The Galleries and Businesses

It’s impossible to describe every participating gallery and shop in a short article, but here are some of the highlights. Galleries regularly provide discounts on Dirty Linen night.

Gallery Rinard (611 Royal St.)

Owned and operated by the artist Matt Rinard, this gallery features the work of many of the area’s renowned painters and sculptors, with a focus on whimsy and humor rather than what we think of as classic Southern art.

Frank Relle Photography (910 Royal St.)

One of the city’s most famous photographers, Frank Relle has made a career out of his love of New Orleans architecture, history, and light — or lack thereof, in the last case. Confused? Relle is best known for taking shots of New Orleans homes, buildings and street scenes late at night, using long exposures to create a singularly eerie (yet also oddly comforting, and always beautiful) micro genre of fine art photography.

Kako Gallery (536 Royal St.)

Kako Gallery features New Orleans and Gulf South artists at affordable prices, including original paintings and sculptures as well as prints and signed giclées.

Martin Lawrence Gallery (433 Royal St.)

Works from Rembrandt, Picasso, Chagall, and Warhol stand alongside contemporary artists like Deyber and Murakami. There will be special discounts for Dirty Linen Night; inquire at the gallery.

 Scene by Rhys (708 Toulouse St.)

Located in a courtyard, this gallery is a fine base for local artist and all around character Emile Rhys. A supremely talented artist, Rhys is best known for her fine art ink and pen drawings of the city’s local musicians. Her work, which synthesizes two great elements of New Orleans creativity — the sonic world of music and the frenetic energy of her visual art — is unique and singularly worthy of souvenir consideration.

Where to Eat

Many of New Orleans’ classic restaurants like Antoine’s, Galatoire’s, Mr. B’s Bistro, and Arnaud’s are within walking distance of the participating galleries. Here are some other spots outside of the pantheon of classic Creole institutions that you would want to sample.

Bennachin (1212 Royal St.)

You might have tried Bennachin’s legendary mburu akara (black-eyed pea fritters and tomato stew on French bread) and jama jama ni makondo (sautéed spinach, fried plantains and coconut rice) at Jazz Fest, where the longtime spot for African fare has a perennial presence. The food tastes even better when consumed in the cozy, colorful French Quarter destination. Bonus: A BYOB policy makes Bennachin an excellent place to affordably wine and dine.

Bayona (430 Dauphine Street)

Chef Susan Spicer’s restaurant features daily specials and a creative mix of foods influenced by cuisine from around the globe. Try the veal sweetbreads with sherry mustard.

Green Goddess (307 Exchange Place)

It’s easy to overlook this petite restaurant tucked in a narrow, gas lantern-lit alley, but to miss its globally-tinged cuisine would be a shame. There’s mostly outdoor seating at the quirky, no-reservations spot, which fills up fast.  Give your name to the maître d’ and grab a craft cocktail (the food is worth the wait).

SoBou (310 Chartres Street)

New American cuisine gets a playful twist — indulge yourself and take advantage of this spot’s unapologetic penchant for decadence. Surf-and-turf steam buns or the ridiculously delicious foie gras burger are winners on the menu.

Sylvain (625 Chartres Street)

Located in a historic French Quarter carriage house, this eatery has classic options like a hamburger or a “Chick-Sylvain Sandwich” alongside pan-seared scallops and a pan-fried pork shoulder.