Who was Marie-Cornelie Van Dorp Laan? Happy Birthday to this first supporter of NOAFA, wildflower gardener, lecturer, and native plant activist extraordinaire.

Portrait of Miek Laan (Marie-Cornelie Van Dorp Laan) Auseklis Ozols. Oil on Linen, Private Collection (Fire Damaged) Miek is shown above with flowers from her expansive wildflower garden, which she cultivated in her back yard gardens in Old Metairie, Uptown New Orleans, and on the Gulf Coast in Ocean Springs Mississippi.

Miek Laan with one of Her Arrangements, Photo By Auseklis Ozols, probably taken for her Flowers Plus wildflower projects. 1970’s in her home on Vincent Avenue, Old Metairie.

Meik Laan emigrated from The Netherlands to the United States in 1946 with her husband, Cyril Cornelis Laan, along with their 4 children in 1946. They had two additional children (including my mother, Gwendolyn ) once settled in New Orleans. She was born in 1912 in Huizen, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. Her father was a chemist and her mother was an artist/sculptor. They were all fervent equestrians, recreational sailors, and lovers of the arts. Miek’s brother Willem Van Dorp, was also an artist, a sculptor. Their childhood home in Naarden-Huizen was placed on the National register of Historic Places and can be visited by tourists now. It is maintained by the Dutch government for preservation purposes.

Once in New Orleans after emigrating, all six children attended Metarie Park Country Day School in Old Metairie. Her youngest daughter, Gwendolyn, https://ozolscollection.org/gwendolyn-laan-ozols-the-portraits/ married artist Auseklis Ozols https://ozolscollection.org/about-auseklis-ozols/ who founded the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts in 1978.

Miek’s support of the academy was integral to its founding and birth. She, along with two others: Ben C. Toledano and Mrs. Arthur (Janie) Fort also helped in the same capacity: “Financial assistance was given by Ben Toledano, Mrs. Arthur Fort and my mother in law, Mrs. Cyril Laan.” (Auseklis Ozols, “On the Founding of NOAFA, Retirement, and and The Ozols Collection” https://ozolscollection.org/1642-2/ )

Drawing of Indra Ozols and Meik Laan (titled Indra and Grandmama?) Pencil on Paper, Magtillt Laan Van Thiel 1985, Private Collection. Indra was about a year old when our mother, Meik Laan’s youngest child was shot. Indra was constantly with Grandmama as a growing baby. This quick portrait demonstrates their closeness during that time.

Portrait of Meik Laan by Margaret Witherspoon, 1980’s Oil on Canvas, Private Collection New Orleans Artist Margaret Witherspoon kept her studio a few blocks away from where we lived for a few years with our Dutch grandparents (Meik and Cyril Laan) on Nashville Ave. The studio was less than half a block from Langensteins grocery store and we visited frequently with our grandmother. This painting was exhibited with a series of similar portraits that Witherspoon produced in 1988.

Meik Arranging. Magtillt Laan Van Thiel, Oil on Canvas, 1980’s, Private Collection (This painting was made by my aunt, MVT and portrays Grandmama making a beautiful arrangement of the flowers from her garden. My sisters Aija and Indra sit together on one side, and I am portrayed on the other with an image of our late mother.

Below is a picture from the Times Picayune of Meik Laan with two other other officers of the Friends of the Cabildo, Times Picayune, 1957. She is listed as the Third Vice President.

Photo from the Times Picayune, 1957 depicting Miek Laan and other Friends of the Cabildo officers.
Reverse Side of Archival photo from Times Picayune, 1957

A beautiful article outlining some of her endeavors and efforts from her church. Written sometime in the early 1980’s. All names other than family have been obscured.

Spotlight on Miek Laan, from her church in New Orleans where she was an active member since joining in the 1950’s. This document outlines some of her activities-all personal names other than family have been obscured. Original document available upon request. Transcription below:

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