Painter Kristopher Naeger's art is in Cape

Sunday, September 11, 2005

In July, artist Kristopher Naeger moved from Cape Girardeau to New Orleans to try his brush in a new town, a stay that was short-lived.

Naeger and hundreds of thousands of others fled New Orleans Aug. 25 to escape the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. He expected to return soon. "I thought I was just leaving for the weekend," Naeger said. "I'm not kidding, everyone thought that."

Naeger only packed a T-shirt and a pair of shorts, leaving all of his art supplies on the first floor of the place where he lived in Bayou St. John, a small section between the French Quarter and city park in Orleans Parish.

Naeger expects the worst occurred to his home in New Orleans. Friends who looked at a satellite photo saw that the roof is still attached and the pool looks green. He said the photo showed the bayou is now right outside his front door.

Back in Cape Girardeau for an undetermined time, Naeger has decided to hold an art show to help contribute to the disaster relief efforts. Thirty percent of the profits from the show will go to the American Red Cross to help those whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The show will be held in the River View room above Buckner Brewing Co. from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18.

Naeger was only in New Orleans for a few months but was already getting settled in. He worked as a sous-chef (assistant chef) at a restaurant called the Sunray Grill.

Every Monday night he played hearts with friends who lived in the middle of the French Quarter.

Naeger left New Orleans with his friend and landlord, Stephen Lott, and Lott's dog, Willie, in an attempt to outrun the hurricane. Naeger and Lott were caught in the mass exodus on the freeways. Just about every car they passed had a cat or a dog in it, Lott said. Everyone was courteous, he said; no one honked their horns.

Remnants of the hurricane caught them in southern Mississippi. It was still very much a hurricane when it passed over them, Naeger said.

Lott and Naeger are impatient for the go-ahead for New Orleans residents to return and see firsthand the damage to their home.

Naeger said he has not asked for help from the American Red Cross because he was able to leave and could stay with his family.

"I am incredibly lucky," he said. "I really feel that I was blessed."

His friends, neighbors and colleagues from New Orleans are spread out across the United States now, but Naeger said everyone is looking forward to getting back into the city and playing hearts every Monday night.

335-6611, extension 127

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