This man’s incredible artwork is transforming the city of New Orleans.

When Brandan Odums got caught spraying graffiti art in an abandoned apartment complex in New Orleans, he thought he was in real trouble.

It turns out that getting caught would be the thing that launched the next chapter of his career.

Photo by Patrick Melon, used with permission.


Odums had begun creating graffiti art in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the storm left thousands of homes ruined or abandoned. He and a group of other artists created paintings there that captured the pain, frustration, loss, and hope that the community was feeling.

It started out as a project, but as people stumbled upon the space and word began to spread, it quickly became a phenomenon.

"I had no idea that the response would be what it was," Odums says. "Before we knew it, the space had turned into an underground art experience."

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

It turned out that lots of other people identified with the feelings that the artists were capturing, too — including the landlord.

"The owner of the property walked in as I was painting," Odums says. Odums expected to get thrown out, but instead, the owner was actually impressed by what he saw — so much so that he handed over the keys to the space so that Odums and the other artists could set up a temporary art show, called "#ProjectBe." He then later helped Odums set up an exhibition in a more permanent space, which he called "#ExhibitBe."

People came from all over the city, state, and country to see the art that Odums and his colleagues were creating in New Orleans.

"It was an amazing experience, just seeing the power of art, alchemy transforming this negative into a positive," Odums says. Many of the people who came through used to live in one of the now abandoned places that were ruined by Katrina. Witnessing something so painful turned into something powerful, Odums says, is what the project is all about.

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

"I think there’s a certain spirit in New Orleans that’s about alchemy. There’s a certain spirit that’s about transformation," Odums says. "I think all the beautiful elements of New Orleans, when you look at it closely, you see that all the things people find beautiful about the city, they were all born out of struggle or pain or sadness."

The power of Odums' art comes from more than just the place. It's also about the people he chooses to paint.

Odums paints black people, both prominent icons from history as well as everyday people that he’s met or seen. The portrayal of black beauty on such a large scale has a huge effect on the people who pass through.

"I think it could be summarized in this one particular moment," Odums says. "We gave this tour to a middle school, and afterward I asked this young man which painting was his favorite."

The boy pointed to a portrait of a teenager that Odums had painted with a shirt on it that read "alchemy."

"I asked him why," Odums says. "And he said, 'Because it looks like me.'"

Photo by Patrick Melon, used with permission.

That struck Odums in a powerful way.

"It brought me back to the moments when I was in art school," he says. "It made me remember that I never had that experience, where I went to an art space where I felt like I was reflected or where I was able to see something positive or beautiful about who I am reflected on the walls." He’s able to give that representation to a younger generation.

Now, Odums is leaving his studio and taking his art out into the streets of New Orleans.

For the city’s tercentennial, he’s paired with local government to start putting up graffiti murals all around town, depicting the history of each individual place.

"There’s all these historic sites and markers in the city. So how can we use visual art and street art and murals to bring those stories alive?" he says. "We’re bringing another layer of New Orleans to life."

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

The sites of the new murals haven’t been chosen yet, but they will likely reflect New Orleans’ history as the birthplace of jazz, a major player in the struggle for abolition, and many of the other significant events that have taken place over the city’s 300-year history.

"There’s so much history, so many important ideas that were born in this city," Odums says. "How can the visual arts explore that? That’s what we’re trying to figure out."

Odums doesn’t paint just because he loves the practice. It’s also about giving back to his community.

His commitment to community service stems from a philosophy that he’s held since he was a child.

Photo by Brandan Odums, used with permission.

"My father was in the military for 25 years," he says. Growing up in a military family, Odums learned early what it means to live a life committed to serving others. "Seeing him put on the uniform and understanding what it meant, this extreme type of service," Odums says, rubbed off on him and inspired his work in New Orleans.

He says that his love for others actually is rooted in an attitude of healthy self-love.

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac, used with permission.

"I was raised with this level of love for myself, and in return, love for my community," he says.

"If I deserve better, then my neighbor deserves better," he continues."It’s this idea that we all should be engaged in demanding more from the status quo."

Most Shared
True
New Orleans Tourism
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

Most Shared
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family