Today was another beautiful day in New Orleans, excellent for bike riding. I took my bike to the gym up at Tulane. It felt good to be back, tooling up St. Charles Avenue. On my way home I passed these stairs on Loyola University’s lawn–“Steps Home” by Dawn Dedaux. They are part of the Sculpture for New Orleans project where sculpture is displayed around town with the hopes of being purchased and donated for permanent exhibition. Not too long ago I was sharing beers in the Marigny with some folks who are from here, and they were complaining about the amount of money spent on art lately. The P.1 exhibitions, for example, represent huge outlays of cash. What if that money were spent on rebuilding houses or streets or sewers or schools? Why buy these representational stairs rather than real ones? I understand that argument, of course, but at the same time, art has social, political, and spiritual value that matters and that is surely worth it. I think the opposition between paying for art and paying for life is ultimately false. We shouldn’t have to choose between the two; we’ve got enough for both. But it can be hard to pass these stairs and the stairs from yesterday and not feel a bit unsettled at the ways representation and reality continue to operate in New Orleans.