Designs on Mobile: Upcoming exhibition celebrates the artists behind the Mardi Gras revelry

Posted on: October 15th, 2014

By Michelle Matthews

As a group of 10 people followed docent Rich Gudmundson from room to room in the Mobile Carnival Museum recently, the visitors looked at the trains of Mardi Gras kings and queens, marveling at the artistry behind each one. Gudmundson told them that a single train, embellished with beading, crystals and faux rabbit fur, could weigh as much as 45 to 65 pounds and could cost as much as a year’s college tuition.

Virginia Van Antwerp’s stunning train, displayed along with her brother’s in the front parlor of the Bernstein-Bush House on Government Street that houses the carnival museum, is embellished with more than 25,000 crystals, Gudmundson pointed out. The jaws of the group, consisting of a family from Minnesota, a couple from California and a grandmother, mother and grandson from Montgomery, dropped as they stared at the sparkles.

A one-of-a-kind item as ornate and personalized as a royal’s train can’t be bought in a store. It takes hundreds of hours to design and create the train alone, much less the accompanying attire, crown and scepter for the king and queen of the Mobile Carnival Association, the Mobile Area Mardi Gras Association and all the other Mardi Gras organizations in Mobile.

And then there are the elaborate tableaux created at dozens of balls throughout the Mardi Gras season. Not to mention the floats themselves, which are painstakingly designed and built months in advance according to the theme of each parade, as well as the costumes for each individual rider.

Without the artists and designers who work behind the scenes every year, Mardi Gras would be nothing special. Instead, it’s a spectacle that is uniquely Mobile. Read full article>>