Richard Chappuis, Brother Marine, Floyd LeBleu, Lou King Patin, Pat Olson, the Favalora brothers and a host of other loyal La Fonda patrons are finally getting their caricatures painted on the walls of the popular Mexican eatery — more than four decades after the late Leebob Cox traveled to Mexico City to track down itinerant painter Luis Amendolla and eight years after Amendolla’s death.
This time the artist has been imported from Panama, though he’s no stranger to Lafayette. The paintbrush is in the hands of 62-year-old Lafayette native Rocky Perkins who, after losing his New Orleans studio and its contents to Hurricane Katrina, traveled to Panama to paint President Martin Torrijos, the first lady and salsa singer Rubén Blades and decided to stay.
The accomplished portrait painter, who also has a studio in New York City, has been on his ladder working and chatting with customers in the bar for the past several weeks and hopes to finish the wall (to the right of the bar leading to the restrooms) in about a month. He arrives early every day, except for Fridays. “I learned my lesson, the noise, the crowd,” he says — and paints till late in the evening. “I’m here because I can match Mr. Amendolla’s style,” Perkins says. “And I can kick it up a notch,” he says with a laugh. “You know you have to have an ego in this business.”
He’s painting 90 caricatures — every one of them for a good cause. The project is a fund-raiser for Hospice of Acadiana and HonorAir, a volunteeer organization that flies WWII vets to the WWII Memorial in D.C. Each portrait costs $500, which is benefitting the two nonprofits. “We wrote the check already,” says La Fonda owner/manager Gabe Bako. “We’re collecting on the back end.”
Bako says La Fonda founder Leebob Cox, who died in February, would be pleased with how well the new paintings fit with the old. “We discussed it prior to his passing,” Bako says. “He would love it.”
The work is also paying off for the artist himself. “It looks like I’m picking up a lot of clients here,” says Perkins, who will return later in the year to paint the area over the restrooms, bringing the total number of caricatures added to about 140. He’s also considering moving back to Lafayette part time. “I’ve lived in 30 states and in Russia, London, and there is no place like Lafayette,” Perkins says. “Of course, I gained about 10 pounds in 12 days.” For more information on Rocky Perkins and his works, visit his Web site at www.aartist.com or stop by La Fonda on Johnston Street.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.