Copyright © Ralston Crawford Estate 2015
The titular St. Louis Cemetery is far from Missouri — it is in fact one of three Catholic cemeteries of the same name in the heart of New Orleans, all built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While Crawford often numbered his series of paintings, the “No. 2” of the title here refers not to a second painting in a series, but rather the second of these three cemeteries. St. Louis Cemetry No. 2 is on Claiborne Avenue, a few blocks from St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Both are featured on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail for its many notable interments, including a spate of important jazz and blues pioneers.
Crawford was drawn to many features of the New Orleans, but much of his artistic energies were expended in the city’s cemeteries. An avid aficionado of New Orleans jazz and rhythm and blues, Ralston was attracted to the above-ground crypts of this historic cemetery at least in part because of its connection with the vibrant musical traditions. All three St. Louis Cemeteries are still in use. The artist himself is buried a few blocks away, in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, on Esplanade Avenue.