Pioneering American Necromancer, Leilah Wendell has celebrated her Greater Feast.
Her husband Daniel Kemp posted on FB this passed Friday:
“Leilah is gone….
“I spent yesterday playing her music and this morning when I woke up she was dead.
“Amorte. my love.”
Grand Midway Hotel posted on FB later the same day:
“My beloved friend Leilah Wendell died this morning. Her husband Daniel has been keeping everyone updated as her health declined. He just posted of her last breath.
“Leilah wrote the pioneer necromantic classic ‘Our Name is Melancholy: The Complete Books of Azrael’ as well as creating the famed Westgate House of Death Art Gallery in New Orleans. It was a great destination point for all goth types in the 90s.
“I relocated myself from LA and moved in next door for a full year around 96. She was like some crazy creepy cat lady aunt landlord with a heavy New Yawk accent and I totally loved her as a pal. Her husband Daniel was fun too. He was the gallery curator always with a beer in hand.
“That year I met Stan Rice, Anne Rice, Damien Youth, Poppy Z. Bright, Trent Reznor, the Marilyn Manson folks, and a host of other new artists emerging on the scene. We all lived within few blocks. Lots of them visited Leilah and her big purple home on Magazine Street. Every day artists dressed in all black made the pilgrimage to her gallery.
“It was one of the most fun, artistically romantic years of my life. It was a delight to wake mornings, step out on the balcony in the rain-smelling New Orleans air, and see Leilah and Daniel cheerfully waving good morning back.
“They had bones all over the place on shelves. They hosted dark rituals with candles everywhere. They played Damien Youth music non-stop from the hidden speakers. They emphatically did NOT like the popular vampire culture of the day at all, barking it made fantasy of cheating death by staying alive forever instead of embracing the human experience of looking to revel in deeper, more mature views of what happens next after the passing of life.
“Leilah liked to take long quiet walks around the neighborhood and just check out the gorgeous Southern architecture as well as the sprawling garden flowers. Sometimes I’d join her. Im so glad I did. She’d also take me to graveyards for walks.
“All of her work was about the death experience and trying to turn our human fears into a paradigm of more unimaginable spiritual beauty to come. So, part of me though sad we wont be seeing her around, another part cheers her on as she embarks on the next level of the life adventure she dedicated her life to championing.
“(From the moment I entered her unique gallery I was inspired and pretty much dropped everything to move next door. I came from a funerary family background so we bonded pretty much instantly. After the gallery closed she eventually donated her signature work “The Gift”, the giant angel of death statue with the woman handing over her heart, to the Midway. “You’ll get more traffic there then it just standing in my living room,” she said. Some of her other works are here in the hotel as well. I fully admit the aesthetic look of the Midway some seasons, the funerary purple walls, the shiny black woodwork, the Damien Youth playing in the halls, was influenced directly by Leilah’s Westgate Gallery.) …
“I love you my old friend and it has been an honor to share rich parts of this life with you. There is no loss. You just have beautiful new wings.”
Westgate’s website is still up, last updated this passed August: https://www.westgatenecromantic.com/