From Connecticut to the crescent city, how Eric La Bouchere and Lesley Nash turned from the restaurant industry to the world of art.
Deep within the heart of Uptown New Orleans, off of the bustling hub of magazine street, there is a hidden gem, Fly RIght Galaxy. Fly Right Galaxy is a paradoxical store and doesn’t quite fit into any genre of commercial property, in fact calling it a store at all might be an entirely wrong label. Eric La Bouchere and Lesley Nash have created an immersive artistic experience that begins the moment you see the small yet inviting doors of the barbershop turned pottery studio turned retail store. The old stencil on the door reading ‘Barber Shop’ provides a misleading start to the experience that is Fly Right Galaxy, the faded old letters that describe what once was in that very spot make the initial entrance into the store slightly more jarring. The color, creativity, and absurdity that lies within is unsuspecting but undeniably inviting.
Finding the Brand
Although Eric, one of the owners and artists behind Fly Right Galaxy, admits when they first opened “We had to figure out what we were a consignment shop, gift store, gallery, art studio, we weren’t sure what we were.’ ‘He says this in a matter-of-fact way, almost suggesting that this confusion and diverse array of services made Fly Right what it is. That is, a consignment store of sorts, that sells the art of local artists, holds galleries, and live music events every Saturday. However, in a more profound sense Fly Right seems to be more than just a gift store or a gallery, it is a place where artists and the community can merge and understand each other on an intimate level. When you walk into Fly Right a quick hello from Eric and Lesley is always offered while you try to process the immense creativity that flows from each piece in the building. From handmade rings to nude photography, it can all be found in Fly Right. However that is not to say that the owners of the establishment will just throw anything on their precious walls, “We didn’t want it to become a junk store’, says Eric reflecting on the early days of the store when they were still trying to figure out their brand. The goal became to carefully curate pieces that people want to buy and pieces that artists want to make.
Art for Sale
However, as I learned in my conversation with Eric, the intersection between what artists make and what people want to buy isn’t always obvious.
“You have to pay rent”
And that’s exactly what Eric did when he started making his now bestselling “boil advisory” signs
“Well I made one and I just thought it was funny then I threw it in the window and some lady really liked it and asked if I had another when I said no she asked if I could make more. So I did.”
What Eric thought would be a fun one-time sale became one of their most popular selling items, which soon became the bane of Eric’s existence. While that might be dramatic phrasing, he certainly grew to find the crawfish boil advisory signs tedious. Although this is a very common occurrence in the artistic world, Eric explains how necessary it was to find that thing that would just sell. Of course, no artist wants to sell basic art that appeals to the masses, I mean that kind of defeats the whole artistic obsession with being unique. But of course, the art that sells pays the rent and allows you to keep funding your creativity.
The Artistic Dilemma
This duality of the ‘artist’ is something that Eric presented in a really interesting manner, not only in the internal dilemma sense but also in how he discovered a love of art through cooking.
“The two have a lot of transferability, ”Eric said about working in a kitchen and in the art world “food, like art, is kind of a one time deal, and presentation matters more than anything, the food could taste awful but if it looks nice, then it works.”
The similarities between art and cooking also became apparent to Eric when he began doing art of his own. Both require physical work, a large amount of creativity, and good presentation. The presentation of art in Fly Right is deliberate, if it looks nice on the wall and compliments the surrounding art or jewelry it’ll look good to the consumer. He also said the same about people “If you look a little dirty but have a bunch of cool clothes and a cool look then the dirty part doesn’t matter so much.”
Whether I agree with him on this statement is still undetermined.
Keep Flying Right
The innovative business savvy of Erik and Lesley has allowed the community of uptown New Orleans to become enriched with different artistic mediums and people. Eric and Lesley give every local artist a chance and truly want to see their community grow and become something bigger than the art and the artist. What they have created is a fragile and beautiful bridge between the underappreciated artist and the art-deprived customer. My talk with Eric covered many topics and I was able to get insight into both the art world from a creative lens and a business lens. Which has ultimately led me to believe that the art world can be unforgiving, but with truly good-natured people that want to see others succeed like Eric and Leslie, that narrative can change.
How to reach them
Or Shop in store 1301 Lyons St, New Orleans, LA 70115