THE ICON: Ida Kohlmeyer
THE LEGACY: Ida Kohlmeyer came late in life to her passion, enrolling in art school at Newcomb College in 1950 as a 37-year-old married mother of two. She would quickly make up for lost time, though, earning national recognition for her distinct abstract expressionist voice — with a fittingly jazzy flair — and becoming a leading figure on the New Orleans art scene for decades. Her most conspicuous public legacies in the Crescent City are the colorful “Krewe of Poydras” across the street from the Superdome, as well as a menagerie of stylized sea life outside the Aquarium of the Americas. Her real gift to her hometown, though, is in the number of artists she inspired — and continues to inspire — through her work.
THE ARTIST: Maddie Stratton, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I suppose I looked like a perfect dilettante. Still, I think it’s hideous to see people give up living the life they want, to blame middle age or children and settle for much less than they are capable of.” — Ida Kohlmeyer, on her late-in-life entry into the art world, in a 1995 interview with The Times-Picayune