Character Study: Hayley Gaberlavage

by Melissa Goldstein
THE DOSSIER: NAME: Hayley Gaberlavage. TRADE: Artist. VIBE: Blick meets The French Quarter by way of the flea market. ABODE: One-bedroom in an early 19th-century building off of Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA. The home that artist Hayley Gabberlavage shares with her architect husband Benjamin Massey has much in common with her figurative works: it features a lush, bayou-inspired palette, its composition is spacious and open, and it betrays a reverence for design. The Alabama native moved to town in 2009, after stints in Atlanta and New York, and found her current live/work space three years ago, which, in addition to a rotating gallery of her paintings, she promptly filled with vintage treasures. SOUTHERN COMFORTS There's the Turkish rug bought locally from an antiques dealer friend, the pair of white lamps with gold-rimmed ivory shades spotted by her mother at an estate sale, and the '60s flat file that houses her works on paper, purchased off of an architect in Baton Rouge. "If I wasn't doing painting full-time, I would definitely have a second-hand midcentury furniture store," she laughs. THE INSIDE SCOOP Talking to Gaberlavage, you might mistake her for a decorator, and with good reason: the painter got her interior design degree before switching gears to pursue a masters in fine arts. Still, her first love finds its way into her self-professed "swarthy brushstrokes." There's Man Pondering on Magazine, an acrylic on burlap painting inspired by a man in a furniture ad; owl-eyed Emerald, a haunting study of an architect, based on an image ripped from the pages of Dwell; and the slack-jawed figure with the beer and the turquoise bandana? That's Simon, a portrait of a local French antiques dealer. CITY FOLK Interior design may continue to be Gaberlavage's muse, but it's quite clear there is also another: "New Orleans comes with a lot of interesting characters--it's been a big influence on my work," she says. "People have pointed out that everyone is drinking or smoking in my paintings, and I'm like, 'Maybe because I live in a party town where everyone's always celebrating!' Everyone's just more colorful around here. It's this laid-back attitude that is in peoples' faces." Hayley Gaberlavage's original works are available by inquiry on HayleyGaberlavage.com and prints and paintings are also on sale at the artist's store on Etsy. See both below. real-deal  
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Evelyn Quipp Friedman
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Emerald Man Pondering on Magazine
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$600, Val (Original Painting) $400, Thanks For Retirement (Print)
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$450, Miss Hazel (Print) $125, Bill Murray (Print)
    Photographs: Andrew Arthur     

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