When asked how art can contribute to a city’s recovery, Mr. Bravo admitted, “I tend to be skeptical about art’s ability to effect much social change.” He also distrusts reliance on government, saying, “That whole Katrina experience solidified my belief you can’t depend on institutions or authorities at all. If you see a need, it’s us filling it, doing what needs to get done.” Bravo's wife, Jenny LeBlanc, he says, called transforming a flooded-out building into a venue to display art "the largest sculpture I ever made."
The collectives’ members consider the communities they’ve formed as vital to urban well-being as the art shown in their galleries. Like artist Joseph Beuys’s concept of social sculpture, the collectives not only reclaim abandoned buildings, injecting new life into a physical setting, but disperse a dynamic, can-do ethos into a pretty laid-back place.
Comparing the collective galleries to public art, Susan Gisleson, member of Antenna Gallery, says, “It engenders a generous spirit. It’s literally art for the sake of art. It’s all about the process, not the product.”
The answer to the ubiquitous “Who dat?” posed by Saints football fans is trumpeted on a neighborhood sign proclaiming “We dat.”
The Front Gallery’s structure is based on volunteerism, artist Lee Deigaard explains: “a commitment to bring in the best art we can. You do everything. You clean the toilet, show your own work, curate others’ work, hang the show, repair the walls.”
One after another, these artists describe their efforts as egoless, altruistic. “We’re about the artist, not the sales,” says Tony Campbell. That keeps it "very pure," his fellow member of Good Children Stephen Collier says.