Upon entering the mansion, visitors are instantly greeted by a beautiful mural that spans the entire foyer. It was painted by artist Auseklis Ozols who founded the Academy of Fine Arts in New Orleans. In the year 2000, Ozols began painting the mural which took him six months to complete. He is known for hiding symbols throughout his works of art, and true to his style he has hidden several in the mural that pay tribute to each governor who has lived in the mansion.
In the Grand Isle section, he painted Governor Murphy “Mike” Foster III and Mrs. Alice Foster walking along the beach holding hands, as well as their hunting camp, and a sign that reads 1492-1892. The history behind the camp is Gov. Foster’s paternal grandfather, Murphy J. Foster Sr., was elected governor of Louisiana in 1892. There is also a camouflage hat with “Mike” written across it. An avid duck hunter, Gov. Foster’s hats were always lying around the mansion while he lived here, so Ozols picked one up and included it in the painting. In the same corner, there are two warning flags for the two major hurricanes that struck the stat in 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The rainbow which signifies the rebuilding of our state is a tribute to Governor Kathleen Blanco. Governor Blanco served five years as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and became the first woman to be elected governor of Louisiana.
Look closely at another corner of the mural, and you can spot an elephant on a pirogue. David “Dave” Treen, the first Republican elected governor after Reconstruction. He was very much out of his element at that time which is symbolized by the elephant on a pirogue, which is also very much out of its element.
A deck of cards representing one of Governor Edwin Edwards’ favorite pastimes can be found in the northwest corner of the mural. They represent Governor Edwin Edwards and his wife, Candy. In the same corner, there is a postcard of the Superdome as a tribute to Governor John McKeithen who is credited with getting approval for construction of the sports stadium. A turtle marks the long and strenuous amount of time put into building it.
In the northeast corner, there are two symbols that honor Governor Jimmie Davis – a guitar and a sunflower to represent the song he wrote, “You are My Sunshine.” One stack of books is for Governor Buddy Roemer, an avid reader and a Harvard graduate, while the other is for Governor Bobby Jindal, who is a Rhodes Scholar. The artist also included a baseball bat and a football for Gov. Jindal’s two sports-loving sons and a painted canvas for his daughter.
Above one of the doors, there are blue and gold ribbons, which are the state colors and denote the native flowers grown across the state. The gold ribbon is in the shape of a double “M”. This is significant because it stands for the Roman numeral 2000, the year in which the mural was commissioned. The artist forgot to add azaleas, a very common flower found in Louisiana, so he added a sea gull carrying azaleas in the Grand Isle corner.
Over the other door, you will see some of the common crops found in Louisiana including, the Perique tobacco which is only grown in St. James parish and nowhere else in the world; sugar cane; Creole tomatoes; peppers; strawberries and cotton.
Find These Items
There are 15 objects hidden inside the mural for you to find but please don’t rush, take your time. They could be big or small. Let’s see how long it takes for you to find them all. They are in plain view for you to see, so don’t get stuck. The governor and first lady believe in you and wish you all GOOD LUCK!