Galeria Alegria

Promoting Louisiana One Bead At A Time

The technique is new - 95% of Mardi Gras beads are recycled - all beads are individually cut - and molded into shape with regular adhesive

Lots of Questions? Please feel free to ask anytime...

Frequently Asked Questions

We try to anticipate questions you might have about Stephan, Bead Town, his mosaics made out of Mardi Gras beads and provide the answers here. If you need additional information send an email to stephan@galeriaalegria.com.

1.

How did you get your start as an artist? Can you tell me a little bit about your background and your relationship with New Orleans?

I am originally from Wilhelmshaven (near Hamburg), Germany and immigrated to Chicago in 1990. I have a BA in Marketing from Columbia College, Chicago. Under the leadership of Mayor Richard M. Daley and his brother, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and past Chief of Staff Mr. William Daley, I worked as a Director of Special Projects for the City of Chicago Host Committees for the 1994 World Cup Soccer Tournament and the 1996 Democratic National Convention. My responsibilities were to brand Chicago visually in such way to get any tourists excited to consider traveling to Chicago. I stayed in Marketing and Business Development until 2004. During my tenure with the company I traveled a few times to New Orleans and fell in love with the city. After Hurricane Katrina I decided to move to New Orleans to help rebuild the city.


2.

What first inspired you to use Mardi Gras beads in your work?

After my first Mardi Gras parade in the city I noticed the incredible amount of beads that were thrown away. I couldn't believe it. I started to use reclaimed Mardi Gras beads and glued them onto plastic planters. From my humble efforts on the planters I learned that I was constantly limited by the size of the beads. So in order for me to show detail, I had to make larger artworks. My goal is to promote New Orleans and Louisiana through my art.


3.

How does your medium impact viewers' experience of your work?

I am executing my work in a photo-realistic style. I re-create scenes, images, and icons of Louisiana to help bring awareness to the world of the innate beauty of the state's unique culture and varied communities. When folks walk by the artworks, you will hear them say 95% of the time, "Amazing, WOW, or I can't believe those works are made out of Mardi Gras beads." They touch the art and ask me while touching the art if it is ok to touch the art, they take pictures of my art and while taking pictures they ask me if it is ok to take pictures. People are so excited. I always say, "Hey, those are Mardi Gras beads they are supposed to be touched or photographed.


4.

Who/What are some of your artistic influences?

Through my experiences traveling the world, I have gained insight and influence from the Spanish Art Nouveau designs of Antoni Gaudi, the Moorish and Persian architectural details in Istanbul,Turkey, and the sculpture and huge environmental art of Chicago artist and friend John David Mooney. These designs and images have translated to my work in pattern, design and fine detail. Though I am not formally trained as an artist, I engage in a craft that speaks to fine art, and I do borrow the ideals of Post-Impressionistic Pointillism and emulating the style and scale of Roy Lichtenstein's Pop-Art works.


5.

Can you describe your technique and your artistic process?

In preparation for the formal construction of each artwork, beads are meticulously sorted by size down to the exact millimeter and perfect shade, creating a detailed and varied palette much like a painter would for painting. I spray paint the beads as well. The key is cutting all beads off the strand. I am using E-6000 as an adhesive because it gives me the flexibility when applying the beads as tightly as possible. I use really tiny beads to fill any gaps. Additionally, the resulting play of light and color add a new dimension of glitter and shine through the use of metallic, plastic and luminescent beads. Like the disco balls. I create illusion of three-dimensional space through the use of perspective but also the variety of sizes of the beads I use to create actual dimension and add an element of basrelief.


6.

Where can I see your art?

In New Orleans always at 'Little Vic's Gelateria' on 719 Toulouse Street, between Bourbon and Royal St.