Cafe Luna curates hip monthly art market


Catie Sanders

Artist Jim Bilgere poses in front of his paintings which are displayed on the walls of Café Luna. Photo credit: Catie Sanders

Christopher Gilyard

The Garden District community came together at Cafe Luna to sell and celebrate art, eat hand-rolled bagels and drink freshly roasted coffee.

Cafe Luna, located on the corner of Magazine and Nashville streets, has a cozy interior with speedy Wi-Fi and a lengthy patio and garden. The space hosts a monthly art market, which most recently took place on Saturday, April 21.

The cafe was created back in January 2013 by Beth and Frank, or as they like to call themselves, “The Mom and Pop of the Mom and Pop Shop.”

The philosophy that inspired the establishment of the cafe was simple: an obsession with coffee.

“Frank has loved making coffee since the age of 15. When it comes to me and working with him, it’s simple too. I like coffee and plus we’re married. We do everything together,” Beth said.

Cafe Luna has been hosting the monthly art market for four years now.

Paintings from local artists are displayed along the sidewalk, courtyard and inside walls of the cafe. Observers are welcome to enter, eat a hearty breakfast and chat with the artists and owners.

Musician and artist Jim Bilgere had art that was featured throughout the cafe during the market.

Bilgere said he began his painting career the moment he could walk. He takes his inspiration from the New Orleans community.

“In kindergarten, we had a little art show, and I won a ribbon, and in that moment I knew I wanted to be an artist. My family moved around a lot, but it was my grandmother who lived in New Orleans. When I was 13, I came right to Jackson Square where I was fortunate enough to meet one of her best friends, Napoleon King. I learned what it meant to be a real artist. My grandmother wanted me to see in person that it’s possible to be an artist,” Bilgere said.

Bilgere later met his partner, Mario Ortiz, and the two began selling their art at Café Luna’s art markets.

“Jim and I were artists together at this place called Pirates Alley. Mario organized the existence of what’s taking place outside. Being here over here from Pirates Alley is sort of like a vacation. Apart from the vacation feeling, I get to meet people that live in New Orleans. There are New Orleans people where I’m at, but a majority of the people there are tourists,” Ortiz said.

In addition to selling his art at the monthly markets, Bilgere’s pieces can be found displayed in the cafe daily.

Ortiz is the man behind the machine when it comes to organizing and curating the monthly art markets.

According to Bilgere, anyone who is interested in showcasing their art can introduce themselves to Ortiz.

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“They just have to talk and meet up with him. And if he says ‘yes’, then you’re good to go,” Bilgere said.

Artist Jim Bilgere poses in front of his paintings which are displayed on the walls of Café Luna. Photo credit: Catie Sanders
Artist Jim Bilgere poses with his paintings during Café Luna's art show.
People admire the art on display outside Café Luna.