Data News Weekly Staff Edited Report
It may be the biggest family portrait ever. Businessman and former mayoral candidate Troy Henry commissioned a mural that stretches almost the length of a football field, from Religious Street to Tchoupitoulas Street. The two-story-tall painting, by artist Kentrice Schexnayder, pays homage to Henry’s forebears, friends and personal heroes. Every detail ties into his family’s multigenerational New Orleans experience.
The enormous artwork took almost two years to complete, it was finally unveiled on Tuesday July 19th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The mural can be found in a truck fueling depot behind one of Henry’s many businesses, the Sterling Xpress Gas Station, 1667 Tchoupitoulas St., which adjoins the H&W Drug Store medical marijuana dispensary owned by Henry’s brother Ruston Henry.
The mural’s location, near the busy Port of New Orleans, is the perfect place for Troy Henry to honor his grandfather Clarence ”Chink” Henry, a Civil Rights Activist and longtime leader of New Orleans’ Black longshoremen’s union (which merged with the White union in 1980). Grandpa Clarence’s portrait lies closest to the river in the painting.
Troy Henry’s father, the late Sterling Henry Sr., the first Black Pharmacist at the Circle Food Store, appears with his wife, Elvira Day Henry, near the center of the painting. Ruston Henry is portrayed on the far left of the mural. Troy Henry himself appears near the center of the long painting, near the charging horseback purple knight that symbolizes his beloved St. Augustine High School.
The mural is a block in length and is 20 feet tall. In addition to kin, the mural includes enormous individual portraits of well-known New Orleanians, including Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the late Chef Leah Chase and the late TV Anchor Nancy Parker, all of whom were important to Troy Henry and his family.
Renowned R&B Composer and Producer Dave Bartholomew, who died in 2019, was a next-door neighbor when he was a child, Troy Henry said. ”His success was a tremendous influence on our family,” he said. Actor Wendell Pierce has been a friend of Troy Henry’s since they both lived in the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood and played Little League football together, Troy Henry said.
Schexnayder was the perfect choice to express his vision, because she spent part of her childhood in the lower 9th Ward, as did Troy Henry. In addition to her fine art career, Schexnayder is owner of an indoor/outdoor commercial painting business. She was originally hired to do ordinary wall painting in Troy Henry’s office, before he discovered that she was also a muralist.