One of the most visited places in the USA is Jackson Square, the center of the old city of New Orleans. It's named Jackson Square for the iconic statue of Major General Andrew Jackson that sits in the middle of the square. The square was once a military parade ground with a gallows standing in the middle. In the mid 1850's the square was redone by the Barroness Michaela Almonaster Pontabla—another story for another day. The center square has been a gathering point for people who live here and for visitors since the very beginning of settlements here back in 1718.
Now days people come to Jackson Square as a "not to be missed" part of their visit to New Orleans. It's important to get a Beignet at Cafe Du Monde, admire the buildings and shops around the square, listen to a street band, get a "reading", and look at all the incredible art for sale. There are about 200 artists that make their life selling art at Jackson Square. Some have been out here their whole life, while some have just arrived. The city issues 200 permits a year for about 90 spaces along the fence of the square, its a first come first serve sort of deal. Mid-week you may not see the fence completely full, but come the weekends during the busy season the fence is packed with talent.
Typically an artist spends a couple days a week painting and the rest of the days outside "on the fence" selling their work and talking to tourists . The days can start early, on busy weekends they may need to arrive at 4am just to get a spot! Being an artist on the square is a lot harder than it first appears as it is long hours and lots of inclement weather. Its rewarding to be able to pursue your artist vision and still make a living and this is what drives everyone out there to stay with it. Much like the incredible volume of musical talent in New Orleans, we also have amazing visual artists that can give you a hand made piece of New Orleans to take home with you. Please don't come all the way to New Orleans to visit and marvel at our food, music, art and fun options and go home with a trinket made in China!
The artists are not always in the same spot, so if you saw something you like and you went back to find it later you may have to work all the way around the fence to find it again. Everyone knows everyone out there though so feel free to ask another artist and they can probably help you out. Jackson Square has been an art scene since the 1920's back in those days many painters and artists lived in the French Quarter. For years, until pretty recently actually, it was a very inexpensive place to live and that is why artists flocked here. William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Edgar Degas, John Audubon, James Michalopoulos and John McGrady all lived and worked in the French Quarter. Now its extremely pricey and most of the artists can no longer afford to live downtown and walk to work. Thankfully they make the trek to downtown daily though and you can still see their beautiful work and take some home with you.