Gator Aid – Alabama Artist, Celebrities Support Wetland Watchers Service-Learning Project
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Birmingham artist Don Stewart has teamed up with an energetic group of middle school students, creating a new piece of art that will help restore part of the LaBranche Wetlands along the shores of Lake Ponchartrain.
The seventh and eighth graders of Harry Hurst Middle School in Destrehan, LA are working to preserve and expand the wetlands in their area through activities integrated into the curriculum led by award-winning science teacher, Barry Guillot.
“Mr. Barry discovered my work hanging in the LaPlace McDonald’s restaurant, and contacted me about doing something to promote the Wetland Watchers project,” Stewart said. Last April Mr. Guillot invited Stewart to visit the school, and see the wetland restoration project firsthand. “The kids asked me to come up with an alligator picture made out of things native to the wetlands and to the New Orleans area to help raise awareness for the importance of Louisiana wetlands to the rest of the nation,” said Stewart. “They gave me a long list of items that they would like to see in the design, and I started working from their suggestions.””. Composite refers to the artist’s characteristic drawing style, creating large pictures from a number of smaller images. The Gator Aid drawing includes over 100 items including a street car, po-boy, French Quarter balconies, local sports teams, and a wide variety of fish, birds, and other wildlife!
“Don Stewart has created a masterpiece with the Gator Aid drawing! Everybody that sees it is so excited because it is creative, it is beautiful, and it includes so many items that represent who we are and where we live. It has a little of everything for all people that love Louisiana, New Orleans, and the beautiful wetlands that we have here! Mr. Don has created a work of art that inspires pride for our local population reminding us of all the great things that we have here and will serve as a wonderful ambassador for Louisiana wetlands around the nation” says Hurst teacher Barry Guillot.
During the visit, some of the students wanted to know how Stewart creates his drawings, so he has been keeping them up to date on the project, sending sketches by e-mail to show them how the drawing is developing, step by step. Guillot created a web page detailing the progress of the drawing, from initial sketches to the finished composite:
Prints of the Gator Aid drawing will be released on December 6th, at the Wetlands Reveillon which is a fundraising gala at the Destrehan Plantation’s Mule Barn coordinated by Hahnville and Destrehan High students through their work at the St. Charles Parish Schools’ Satellite Center. Half of the proceeds from print sales will be donated to support the students work with creating interpretive materials for Wetland Watchers Watchers Park.
In addition, a number of celebrities with New Orleans connections will be signing copies of Stewart’s drawing, which will be auctioned at the fundraiser. Chef Emeril Lagasse, musicians Dr. John and Branford Marsalis, and exercise guru Richard Simmons have all agreed to autograph Gator Aid prints, in support of the Wetland Watchers program.
The Wetlands Reveillon will include an incredible dinner created by the Satellite Center’s culinary team, entertainment by Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, the release of Don Stewart’s Gator Aid drawing, and a silent auction including works of art, a kayak filled with fishing gear, signed sports memorabilia, and package deals for local restaurants and tours! More information about the Wetlands Reveillon can be found at awetlandsreveillon.org. Information about purchasing a Gator Aid print after December 6th can be found at dsart.com.
The Hurst Middle Wetland Watchers participated in the NBA New Orleans Hornets Save the Wetlands Night at the New Orleans Arena! 216 students, teachers, and their families as well as partners from the Destrehan WISE Club and the Satellite Center had a fantastic time at the game against the LA Clippers. 60 of the Hurst students were able to go on the court to high five the players pregame and half time and our students were on the huge screen 3 times during the night hamming it up! Wetland Watchers Coordinator, Hurst teacher Barry Guillot, was interviewed by Joe Block as a guest on the Hornets radio half time show.