Art Spotlight: Elliott Gallery

July 27, 2017
I have always adored animals, even from a young age. When I was a kid I had a “big box of animals” which consisted of hundreds of plastic animal figurines. Lions and tigers, and hippos all mixed in with my farm animals, and my very impressive ape collection. However, it was the pink rhino that was my favorite. I would hunt and search through the box looking for him and when I found him it was like finding treasure. A treasure, because he wasn’t just an ordinary plastic animal figurine. He had wheels on his feet, his head swiveled from side to side, and when you shook him he made a grunting noise, that I guess, must be what a pink rhino sounds like. His amazing features made him my favorite.

When I chose to include Elliott Gallery as my artist spotlight, I immediately thought of my pink rhino. Why? Because at the corner of Royal and Toulouse Streets lies a French Quarter treasure among galleries. While Elliot Gallery looks a lot like any other gallery on Royal Street from the outside, it has the most impressive collection of master artists on its walls inside. Artists including Theo Tobiasse, James Coignard, Max Papart, David Schneuer, Nissan Engel, Garrick Yrondi, Joan Míro, Marc Chagall, and Petra Seipel, have held residence for many years here at 540 Royal Street.

Gallery owner Catherine Martens Betz recently took the helm of Elliott Gallery from the original owners, Fred and Betty Ann Elliott. Over 35 years ago, Fred ran the wholesale side of his father-in-law Ken Nahan’s business, Nahan Fine Art. During most of that time, Fred travelled worldwide, working with artists and galleries. Betty, having grown up in the business, later joined her father and husband at Nahan Fine Art running the retail side of the business in New Orleans. The retail gallery became known as Elliott Gallery.

As the daughter of Elliott Gallery collectors, Catherine fulfilled her long-held dream of owning a space on Royal Street. She continues Elliott Gallery’s tradition of bringing not just artists, but modern and contemporary trailblazers in the art community to its ever-growing family of collectors. Making a new mark in the art world on Royal Street is not an easy task, but Catherine plans to keep the gallery much the same as what collectors have come to expect, while adding a few new things here and there to draw in a new breed of collector.

This treasure has been a staple in the New Orleans art community for over 40 years. With highlights including Nissan Engel’s mixed media mastery and, what I consider to be, the best Chagall collection in New Orleans, Elliott Gallery looks forward to continuing to lead the way in classic art collection.

When I gave up my “big box of animals”, I insisted on keeping the pink rhino for a long time after. In fact, if you go into my attic today, way in back, behind my Backstreet Boys dart set, you will find a big cardboard box labeled “RyRy’s thangs”. If you are brave enough to shake that box, you just might hear the grunts of what some folks say sounds like a pink rhino.