The Artistry of Rex
Join us from 6 to 8 P.M. for an evening exploring the artistry of the Rex parade, highlighting both historic imagery and contemporary processes and featuring newly discovered footage of the 1898 parade. The Rex Organization Archivist and Historian Emeritus, Dr. Stephen Hales, will share insight into the krewe’s history and traditions and explore the evolution of the parade. In conversation with Curator of Costumes, Textiles, and Carnival Collections Wayne Phillips, float designers Caroline Thomas and Richard Valadie of Royal Artists will discuss the continued artistry that defines the parade and the influences of historic practices on contemporary design.
Rex Historian William French will also debut a two-minute film of the 1898 Rex parade from the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. This never-before-seen film is thought to be the oldest surviving moving footage of New Orleans, showcasing the impact of parading and the Rex Organization on the city.
This program is presented in connection with the current exhibition Rex: The 150th Anniversary of the School of Design. It is hosted in partnership with the Louisiana Museum Foundation and made possible with generous support from IBERIABANK | First Horizon. It is free and open to the public and will take place at the Presbytère, 751 Chartres St., on Jackson Square. Pre-registration is encouraged. Please register here: https://forms.gle/BvFewTfuYZiig5X4A
About the Panelists
A Louisiana native, Caroline Thomas received her BFA in fine art painting from the Art Academy of Cincinnati and has been working in New Orleans Mardi Gras for more than ten years through the float production company Royal Artists. She designs floats for the Krewe of Proteus and Rex, the last two nineteenth-century krewes that still parade. She also paints floats, props, and decorative elements for a multitude of parades in New Orleans as well as Mobile, Alabama.
Richard Valadie is the owner and operator of Royal Artists. He began working at the company in 1998 and became owner in 2011. Royal Artists builds the Rex, Proteus, Babylon, and Krewe d’Etat parades in New Orleans. In Mobile, Alabama, Royal builds Mystics of Time, Order of Inca, Conde Cavaliers, and Neptune’s Daughters as well as the Order of Mystic Magnolias in nearby Fairhope.
Dr. Stephen Hales is the Rex Organization’s Archivist and Historian Emeritus and was King of Carnival in 2017. He is the author of Rex: An Illustrated History of the School of Design (2011) and King of the Carnival: 150 Years of the School of Design (2021), written for Rex’s sesquicentennial. Dr. Hales is the founder of Hales Pediatrics and serves on the boards of the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, Children’s Hospital, LCMC Health, and New Schools for New Orleans. He is vice-chair of the Board of Fidelity Bank.
William Darwin French is the Historian for the Rex Organization. He is also a lawyer and tax credit finance professional, as well as senior warden of Trinity Episcopal Church, a member of the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Civil Service League, a director of the Fenner-French Foundation, and vice-chair of the Crescent City Carnival Museum Foundation. French’s responsibilities within the Rex Organization include preserving and archiving the organization’s film and video assets.
(Above image: Rex Parade on Canal Street, 1932)