By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany news bureau
SLIDELL – Watching her two sons become professional baseball players made it easy for Marle’ Paul to remain out of the spotlight, whether she really wanted that or not.
Paul, a lifelong resident of Slidell, was the typical cheerleader for her children as both sons played professional baseball, while her daughter Rachel went on to become a fashion designer in San Diego.
Matthew Paul spent time in the Dodgers organization and went on to start a baseball academy known as The Prospect Lab, while Xavier Paul played for the Dodgers, Pirates, Diamondbacks and Reds, and is currently in Triple-A baseball as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers.
Meanwhile, Marle was a talented artist and writer who never pushed hard enough with her work to seek great acclaim since “I was being the mom and supporting my kids. I’ve always wanted to share my art with the world, but I was the mom for so many years earlier that there wasn’t the time to try and make a big name.”
That might be changing now that Marle was asked to create the artwork for the 1st annual Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival that is expected to draw thousands to Slidell the weekend of Oct. 6-8.
Her colorful acrylic painting—set on a 36 inch by 48 inch canvas—depicts a delightful musical scene and will be on display at the festival for all to see, including dozens of musical and sports celebrities who are coming to the three days of entertainment. Tickets are on sale online at camcityjazzfest.com.
Selecting a Slidell painter continues the efforts by festival organizers Diane and Will Bias to include as much local talent as possible in the inaugural event—all while national musicians will be on the stage all day Saturday and Sunday.
“We want people in St. Tammany Parish to see that we are including local people for everything possible. We want this event to benefit our parish. Every vendor we have lined up other than one is from this area,” Diane noted. “So naturally we wanted a local artist to create our first piece of art.”
Marle grew up in Slidell and graduated from Salmen High in 1980 and found her talent in art and writing at an early age.
“I remember in the sixth grade at St. Tammany Junior High when I did a picture of a house and won first place in a contest,” she said. “Ever since then I’ve enjoyed writing and painting, but it was more of my hobby while raising the kids.”
In recent years she has been able to devote more time to her talent. She has found that her artwork sells very well through an online site based out of London—Zari Gallery. Marle said she regularly sells her art there and also paints through commissioned pieces.
As for the artwork for the Smooth Jazz Festival it is full of musical instruments, faceless individuals partying and dancing, and has a long train next to a piano keyboard from top to bottom to communicate a key message.
“The train was my way of saying ‘get on board for the festival.’ Then I have several saxophones in the painting since that is my signature item in many of much of my work,” she said. “I purposely wanted the people to be faceless since this festival is for anyone and everyone.
“Also, jazz doesn’t have a face. It is so unique and not one person owns it. There have been so many great jazz musicians and singers over the years and I wanted the painting to highlight that,” she added.
Marle donated the work to the festival and in exchange Diane and Will have donated the painting to the American Cancer Society annual fundraising auction. However, the Smooth Jazz Festival gets to keep the painting through the festival and display it on stage, where a special ceremony will be held to donate the proceeds from the sale.
“Marle was the perfect person to do our first year artwork,” Diane said. “She is so modest and humble and created a piece far beyond what we hoped for.”
Marle said it was “amazing to be asked to do the painting for the first year. I want to support this festival in any way I can so I was happy to donate this painting. It’s so exciting to be a part of this.”
Diane said they gave Marle a few thoughts about what they had in mind.
“We gave her a basic concept of depicting the atmosphere of smooth jazz. We really did want the painting to be jazzy. When we saw it we just said ‘wow!’ It is so unique,” she said.
Posters will be made from the artwork that will be for sale to commemorate Slidell’s first Smooth Jazz Festival.