THE ICON: Allison “Tootie” Montana
THE LEGACY: Never let it be said that Tootie Montana wasn’t pretty. One of the most revered “big chiefs” of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian culture, he toiled for countless hours to make sure his feathered, beaded suit — a new one every year — was one of the prettiest on the streets. Bead by bead, hour by hour and Carnival season by Carnival season (more than 50 of them), Montana constructed an unassailable legacy not just as an artist but as a keeper of the flame of one of New Orleans’ most beloved Carnival traditions.
THE ARTIST: Sean Randall, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I do it because it’s in my blood. My daddy did it, and before him my great-uncle did it. It’s been a tradition in my family for 100 years.” — Allison, “Tootie” Montana, in 1997