Portrait of a creative space: Garland Robinette
Garland Robinette is one of the best storytellers I've ever met. He has a tremendous baritone voice that sounds like a Cajun version of James Earl Jones crossed with Walter Cronkite. He has impeccable timing, a biting wit, and charisma to spare. And, he’s lived a life filled with incredible experiences, i.e., storytelling material.
For years, Garland was the face and voice of New Orleans. As a TV anchor on the evening news and as the host of WWL’s Think Tank, he informed, entertained, and challenged the residents of the region. He was a champion for Louisiana wetlands before it became fashionable, and he stood up to good ol’ boy politics at his own risk. And, of course, he told stories, lots and lots of stories.
Garland has had a successful career as an artist as well. He has painted the likes of Pete Fountain, Gayle Benson, Pope John Paul II, Bobby Hebert, The Cajun Cannon’s kids, and Jimmy Buffet, a fellow, gifted storyteller. When I was with him, he was working on a portrait of Ruth Fertel, the founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Garland has also done portraits of his daughter, Charley, at least one per year for the past eighteen years. Sketches and paintings of her can be found throughout the house. It’s like reading a biography hanging on the wall – stories captured on canvas.
Garland’s studio is a small converted living room in the front of an Uptown townhouse. There is an easel beside a window, assorted brushes and paints, and a chair for subjects to sit. It’s not much, but it’s all he needs – to tell a story.
For more information on Garland Robinette, go to http://robinettestudios.com
Folwell Dunbar is a New Orleans educator, artist and survivor of many things, from roaches to German U-boats and heartbreak. He is putting together a collection of these short stories and survival tales called He Falls Well (his name is pronounced “fall well”). NolaVie is honored to preview some of those stories here. Email him at email@example.com.