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Artist Stephen Murphy stands between two of his watercolour paintings of New Orleans subjects, 'Skeleton House', left, and 'Girls Night Out', which are on display at the Hang Man Gallery until Feb. 26. Murphy had painted in New Orleans before the devastation of hurricane Katrina and has been inspired to donate 10 per cent from all artwork sales in his show 'The Big Easy' to the Katrina Fund.

Artists brings supplies to New Orleans
Feb. 16, 2006

Before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August, artist Stephen Murphy took away some art. Now, in his own way, he's giving a little back.

Murphy is leaving for the devastated city Feb. 25, the day before his exhibit, Follow Me to New Orleans, closes at Hang Man Gallery on 756 Queen St. E.

The Leslieville artist was inspired to create the watercolours on display by his first-time visit to the Big Easy in April, before Katrina left most of the city in ruins.

Next week, he'll convert money he's raised during the show into art supplies that he will give to students at a New Orleans public school.

"First of all, it lets them know people are thinking about them, even in Canada," he said this week.

"There's an artist in every little kid," added Murphy. "The little spark that (says) art is a good thing, that art matters."

It's important to keep the world's attention on New Orleans because 200,000 of its citizens are still displaced, he said.

A longtime resident of the Dundas Street and Greenwood Avenue area, Murphy said he was drawn to southern city's "wonky" old buildings as well as its free spirit.

He painted his watercolours of New Orleans' Bourbon Street, Garden District and other points of interest in his usual style - rapidly and in the open air.

"Basically, that's me, my knapsack and my stool."

He's donating 10 per cent of his sales, plus money raised during the exhibit and donations made at the gallery to the purchase of school supplies.

And the artist's goodwill continues.

He just returned from painting the moai, better known as the giant stone heads of Easter Island, and said he hopes his next show will help to build a school there.

"I'd like to be known as a travelling artist," he said.


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