Dr. Bob's Folk Art – New Orleans, Louisiana - Atlas Obscura

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Dr. Bob's Folk Art

Colorful, cheeky signs spill out of legendary New Orleans folk artist Dr. Bob's Bywater studio warning you to "Be Nice—Or Leave." 


Throughout the streets of New Orleans, you’re likely to stumble upon hand-painted signs made by the prolific local artist known as Dr. Bob. In the Bywater district, known today as one of the most colorful, creative neighborhoods in the city, it all comes together in a technicolor gallery space.

Since the 1990s, Dr. Bob has been making art out of his Bywater studio as a response to the changing neighborhood, often returning to his famous mantra of “Be Nice or Leave.” Other signs in his gallery contain variations of it (“Be Gay and Stay!”), or other maxims (“Shut Up and Drink!”). Some of his more decorated paintings contain bright characters of local musical heroes and New Orleans iconography. 

In true folk art form, signs are bejeweled with found objects like bottle caps, ensuring that no two are alike. And, like the best kind of folk art, these garish paintings are a reflection of the energy, stories, and cacophony of the place they’re created in.

Visitors to the gallery will appreciate the ability to see works in progress, find totally unique, affordable local art, and perhaps have a chance encounter with Dr. Bob himself. 

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