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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Midnight at the Oasis

This is a photograph of a detail of a surrealist painting by Max Ernst currently
on view in THE BIG BANG exhibition at the Pompidou.

Spring must be in the air - although one has to look very hard to find it. A few crocus are bravely poking their heads out of the cold, cold ground... soon to be covered by snow or sleet. Still, it is something. Last week I met a friend of a new friend. She is a photographer who bravely drags a $5000. (Australian dollars) Hasselblad all over the world. She is an attractive, shapely woman close to 40 who has the striking look of a beautiful Goth girl...luminous white skin, miraculous blue eyes and straight dark hair. She has been in a relationship for 5 years. The moment she arrived in Paris interesting men have been barking up her tree trying to get her attention. I've heard most of these stories but last night I witnessed one in the making.

We spent the afternoon walking through Pere LaChaise taking photographs. It was a beautiful, grey aftenoon, perfect for this endeavor. I realize now the first thing that was different was the man at the corner entrance. I have seen this man sell maps at this entrance for years. I never knew he spoke English until yesterday. Perhaps it was because we were a group of women he was inspired to be funny and flirtacious? He was great. Now I know. Its my favorite entrance there since it is closed to the metro.

As the afternoon grew late we talked about Anne Rice, New Orleans' great cemetaries, Hollywood Cemetary, the Montparnasse cemetary, Oscar Wilde's tomb (now covered in lipstick kisses which it wasn't a year ago...) and on and on. We walked back to our atelier, damp, cold and ready for dinner. Our mutual friend is a vegetarian so we walked to a place I've seen on the Isle de la Cite several times. It always looked kind of touristy to me... but I am not a vegetarian anymore and I know it is difficult to find vegetarian fare in a city that loves its protein as much as Paris.

The waiter immediatly fell head over heels for our friend. He couldn't really speak English but he managed to tell us he was Tunisian, had been in Paris for five years and was crazy about our friend. He kissed her hand. He brought us free drinks, he ignored the other customers, he played schmalzy French music like Serge Gainsborough and the other one...they mannered Pepi Le Peugh's accent after his voice... our friend actually commented that this evening would always be the Pepi Le Peugh evening for her (while the waiter was sitting by her side with his arm around her...) That was funny... and so true.

He asked her to come downstairs to the bar and have a drink with him. By this time everyone else in the restaurant was gone. She was hesitant. We said were ready to go and as soon as we powdered our noses and got out coats we would be right behind her. At the top of the spiral staircase we were saying our good byes and missed all the excitement. He made a very romantic gesture, sort of a swoon, I suppose, and exploded all over himself. We missed this of course since it was one of those "you had to be there" experiences. The closest thing I can relate it to would be an adolescent boy who can't control his urges. We were only a few feet away... we paid our bill, thanked him for the kir royals and left.

Well, of course the food wasn't great. It was slightly better than cafeteria food. After all that I hoped we would at least throw our bill in the waste bin but no, no, we paid. Our friend recounted what has happened as we walked to Hotel Esmerelda and looked in the window of Shakespeare and Co.

We think she must be emitting more pheremones than usual since she is about to turn 40. She is attractive and striking but no more so than many, many women in Paris.
I must say, Parisian women are much more interesting to me than Parisian men. Spanish men are much more interesting to me than Spanish women. Maybe its the balance of yin and yang. Maybe its the culture that allows them to be who they are. In the meantime, our friend is back in London where I think she'd be better off in her studio working rather than dealing with drunken lads in the streets. As a matter of fact, so would I.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Science and Celebrity

I've was recently contacted by a team of researchers who got together and analyzed the personalities of movie stars. They gathered info that has been incorporated into the test below.

There were only 10 questions so it didn't take long. I was asked to answer each question with the choice that most describes me at this point in life, and then add the points are that correspond with my answers. The results were verrrryyyyy interesting. I recommended several women to this team and they hope to soon learn the results of Foil, Schauml and Inana's tests. If you are willing to take this test to benefit science and ALL of our curiosity I'll let you know the results of my test afterwards - si vous plait? Merci! A test that corresponds with male archetypes is also in the works but in the meantime, just for fun my beloved took this one!

1. Which describes your perfect date?
a) Candlelight dinner for two
b) Amusement Park
c) Rollerblading in the park
d) Rock Concert
e) Have dinner & see a movie
f) Dinner at home with a loved one

2. What is your favorite type of music?
a) Rock and Roll
b) Alternative
c) Soft Rock
d) Classical
e) Christian
f) Jazz

3. What is your favorite type of movie?
a) Comedy
b) Horror
c) Musical
d) Romance
e) Documentary
f) Mystery

4. Which of the following jobs would you choose if you were given only these choices?
a) Waiter/Waitress
b) Sports Player
c) Teacher
d) Policeman
e) Bartender
f) Business person

5. Which would you rather do if you had an hour to waste?
a) Work out
b) Make out
c) Watch TV
d) Listen to the radio
e) Sleep
f) Read

6. Of the following colors, which do you like best?
a) Yellow
b) White
c) Sky blue
d) Teal
e) Gold
f) Red

7. Which one of the following! would you like to eat right now?
a) Ice cream
b) Pizza
c) Sushi
d) Pasta
e) Salad
f) Lobster Tail

8. Which is your favorite holiday?
a) Halloween
b) Christmas
c) New Year's
d) Valentine's Day
e) Thanksgiving
f) Fourth of July

9. If you could go to any of the following! places, which would it be?
a) Reno
b) Spain
c) Las Vegas
d) Hawaii
e) Hollywood
f) British Columbia

10. Of the following, who would you rather spend time with?
a) Someone who is smart
b) Someone with good looks
c) Someone who is a party animal
d) Someone who has fun all the time
e) Someone who is very emotional
f) Someone who is fun to be with

Now total up your points on each question:
1. a-4 b-2 c-5 d-1 e-3 f-6
2. a-2 b-1 c-4 d-5 e-3 f-6
3. a-2 b-1 c-3 d-4 e-5 f-6
4. a-4 b-5 c-3 d-2 e-1 f-6
5 a-5 b-4 c-2 d-1 e-3 f-6
6. a-1 b-5 c-3 d-2 e-4 f-6
7. a-3 b-2 c-1 d-4 e-5 f-6
8. a-1 b-3 c-2 d-4 e-5 f-6
9. a-4 b-5 c-1 d-4 e-3 f-6
10. a-5 b-2 c-1 d-3 e-4 f-6

Refer to the comments of this post for answers that correspond to your score.
Please refer anyone you think should take this test to the blog or feel free to post the test yourself - celebrity science
will benefit from your efforts!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

When dreams come true

"Silver Tube " oil and collage on canvas Yuri Kuper

It has been a strange time. Grey. Drippy. More grey. I work. I hate everything. I feel bad about all the things I haven't done that I need to do. I miss my husband. My cats. (I haven't seen one single living breathing feline since I've been here...only references to them in grafitti and art!) I work some more. I exhaust myself looking at art...trying to find works that inspire...and then something strange happens. There will be something I want or need and I will dwell on it and it will happen...(!)

I've begun to think I should start dwelling on the really important things rather than regular things like the absence of a vaccumn cleaner in life at the Cite. (and then I will hear one a few rooms which I will be able to borrow!) Or an invitation to the vernissage for the Picasso/Dora Maar show on Valentines at the Musee Picasso here...(and I get a call.., and an invitation!)

So, the important stuff. I determined to take a walk on dwell on these things. Why am I here?

After this epiphany rolled off my back I pulled myself together and walked through the lobby looking for inspiration. First I walked by the Willy Ronis exhibition which closes in a day or so. I've been wanting to go but not enough to stand in a long Que. As much as I enjoy a photograph I love most just as well while sitting in a reading chair with a bottle of wine as I do in a gallery. There are times when this isn't enough. Willy Ronis is French, after all and I am in Paris and the show is free....but the *(#!~!$ que! So I continued to walk. I wound up in St. Germain des Prix hoping to see the work of Yuri Kuper a Russian painter whose work looks interested. I found the show with open doors just as it started to rain. It is an interesting show so I took the time to photograph and walked next door to another gallery that was showing some of his older, more surreal work. There was more variety in this body of work and it was raining harder so I decided to spend some time with the paintings. This process was aided by the fact that an attractive middle age gallery dealer with seriously french silver glasses was sitting at his desk at the back of the gallery...speaking very loudly, in English! Slowly, like he was speaking to someone whose English wasns't quite as good as his. His glasses were like Elton John's more uptown, conservative looks - sleek and rectangular and not metal. Something sparkly and synthetic.

He spoke of how quiet his life has been of late. How there is nothing but work and it is soooo slow. He said Paris is soooo boring right now. "I like it, being bored," he said, "but it is like jumping from a swing and the swing is still moving." (I was thinking at this point his English was pretty #*)($ good.)

He asked his friend Robeeerrrrt if he was living with anyone at the moment. "Oh, I would love to visit you and have our wonderful, long conversations now. I could make you coffee in the morning." This reminded me of my beloved who brings me coffee in bed most mornings...sigh....

And then he said how he was in need of he longed for it. "No, she does not know. It is better if she doesn't know, you understand, of course...(!)" Ahhhh. I think so, French. "Oh, he says, she mumble, mumble, and I have to jack off...(he's got the slang down, I think...and he's been practically yelling this conversation so it wasn't much of a mumble)
"Oh, I need your hot little anus" he swoons... Now I am practically laughing out loud but I can't leave this is SO UNBELIEVABLE... if it were in a movie I would think of it as such a characerature...too much, I would think...the French aren't like that! Thats ridiculous, I would think...

It went on and on and he started mumbling more with a few phone sex words slipping out...I had to leave. I was terrified he would finish and I would be forced to run out to avoid speaking to him or I would burst out laughing. Yes, I guess I am a true voyeur..though I was right there in front of him walking around, taking photos of the paintings...maybe he knew I was American (unlikely) and the fact that I could hear was a turn on? That was even funnier...I had to leave...but it was hard. I wanted to be a fly on the wall with no concern for consequences (mine!)

The thing that amazed is that at one point there must have been half a dozen people in the gallery and he didn't slow down on syllable...or tone it down one decibel. The paintings were valued at 20.000 Euros apiece or more. Meanwhile it was raining harder. My punishment for sticking around longer than necessary. I found the art supply store around the corner that had a sale sign out front. This time, 10 percent lower. This is amazing. Art supply stores in the states never mark down their entire inventory unless they are moving or going out of business.
That was fun.

By the time I left the rain was letting up so I decided to walk along the left bank of the Seine on my way back to my atelier...but down by waters edge so I could wait under a bridge if the rain began again. Suddenly the sky started to clear and there was the most amazing light shining on the tip top of Samaritaine and everything on the right bank. It was like the postcard you always thing has been touched up but it was real. I continued to walk at a photographer's pace...shooting the light through the bridges, Notre Dame seen from under a bridge, etc and just as it was perhaps too dark for me to shoot anymore the lights came on in the city. It was still dusky outside s0 the yellow lights outlining the bridges and running along the retaining walls made the sky seems even bluer. It was magic. I don't think of Paris as the city of lights in the same way as I did before. Now I realize that something was lost in translation...that is is a city of changing light and the transformation of perception that results from this is surely the source of much of the great art of the 20th C. I noticed this yesterday at the Louvre...the Court Marley sculptures looked completely different each time I walked through that area. It has an atrium allowing the sculpture to be lit naturally for most of the day and then selective spots at night. I could spend the whole day there. Maybe I will one day soon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Squirrels on the loose

A little more than a year ago I was in search of the bookstore linked above. It was a brilliant Sunday morning in Paris. The church bells were ringing and I decided the morning should be commemorated by paying homage to my beloved by purchasing an International Herald Tribune. I went to the closest newstand. Ferme.

Closest bookstore. Ferme.

I decided to track down the Village Voice, famous to be open seven days a week like Shakespeare and Co. Surely they would have one. It is located in the heart of the historic Saint Germain des Près neighborhood, between the cobbled streets of Place Saint Germain des Près and the currently infamous Place Saint Sulpice. I never made it to the VV. My pocket was picked 3/4 of the way there. I realized my digital camera was taken. This was a first. I've been to Paris close to a dozen times and spent more time here than any other European city... Still, my camera was gone with great photos MIA and I was sick about it.

Now, a year later, walking back from a long errand across Paris to the great Lost and Found of Paris Police stations, I realized I am walking along rue Princess! I wander into the small shop and unload my groceries and art materials, look around and pick up a Paris Times. As I am leaving I notice an announcement that writer David Sedaris will be reading on the 9th! That sounded like fun... except my meeting with le Foundation President was scheduled for the late afternoon the same day...I decided I would figure out a way to do it. I purchased "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and asked what time I should plan on arriving to get a seat. "6:15" he said. The reading was to begin at 7pm.

My meeting on the 9th was very interesting, something I must elaborate on in another post. I DASHED down the stairs and jumped on the metro and arrived at 5:50 - earlier than my friend who was to save our seats. Didn't matter. There was already a line snaking down the stairs by the time I walked in the door! I decided to purchace two more books: "Naked" and "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" and wait by the close circuit TV so I would at least be able to hear if I couldn't be upstairs. By the time my friend Yvette showed up the downstairs was standing room only and I was having to hold tight to my place by the counter and a chair. For once I chose the right island in the storm because David Sedaris walked right up to the counter and took out his pen! I was first in line, so to speak, because I was paying attention and had my books in my hands. He asked where I was from and what I did...where I was staying, etc. I was impressed.
He signed the first one: "Thank you for making me rich." daofjgf seouga[ (it looks like Greek, but then that would be appropo) It feels good to laugh out loud.

David is
a closet Parisian, which I didn't know (!) and he lives around the corner from the bookstore. He read a piece titled "A Brush with Art" that will be published in the New Yorker this spring as well as Valentine's fable that will be read on NPR Valentine's Week for "This American Life." Even better than his reading was the Q&A afterwards. When asked about the James Frey controversy he responded "I am amazed the American expects more honesty from a lying drunk than their own President..."

I must admit I was in heaven. Crying and laughing and crying and laughing. Its the first time I've been around so many expats since I've been here... and it was ok. If I could live around people like this all the time (well read and able to ask intelligent questions) I think I would be more content and less depressed. Living in the repressive state of America can be very sad when one lets the news and bozos on the street define one's definition of what it means to be an American. Its just as depressing being here and being defined by those same headlines and one-sided perceptions. Even the Australians are disappointed in us! Its a burden, thats what it is. I've spent my life first being defined as a southerner and now as an American. I just want to be defined as a good artist in search of that place like home where art is the language that makes sense of it all.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A universal truth?

What is it about men and TV's? I walk through the lobby here several times a day and its like I am invisible. Thats fine with me. This afternoon I was on one of my pointed walks where I actually have a plan and a map and some idea of what I will see and I come across a television by the trash. I am always finding things on the street and could probably furnish our apartment with things I've been regifted from the sidewalk.

The TV had all its cords and remotes so I stuffed them all in my pocket and picked the thing up to walk what would normally be a simple 15 minutes walk at most. It was heavier than it looked. I stopped every four minutes to rest. As soon as I walked in the lobby here it was like I dragged in the golden fleece. Never mind the fact that the security guards were already watching a color TV with some sport being played.... not American football and not soccer. I couldn't figure out what it was, actually. As soon as they saw my TV there were 20 questions - and they barely speak English, if any - and I certainly am not much of a French speaker.

Immediately one of them wanted to commandeer the TV to see if it worked. (I think there must have been another game on another channel and they wanted to watch two at once...) anyway... I let him since I need extra points with the security guys since I lost my keys my second day here and occassionally I get in after the gate is locked and I need to knock on the window to get them to let me in. That won't get me out of paying for the lost keys but I am still hopeful that they will be found and turned in. looks like the tube on the TV is going out so they immediately lost interest in my big black box. I dragged it upstairs anyway since the lift was working and I will see if it takes time to warm up. I really only want one to help improve my French - plus I've heard of a hilarious marionette program that comes on every night that riducules Bush and his cabinet of ghouls. That's worth the effort it took to drag it here if I can get the thing to work.

The superbowl is tonite which I don't care much about one way or the other but IS such a spectacle the French are impressed by it. It would have been fun to invite a few of my neighbors in to watch it. Now, if only I had a case of Miller Pony's - the CHAMPAYNE of Beers... that would make it a truly American experience for them. Our Australian friend Ashley really enjoyed discovering those things and drinking them like water. It was funny... a wee spectacle in the dead heat of summer. Miller Pony's are certainly something I NEVER think about but when a foreign visitor is deeelighted ny them they take on a whole new light.

That's what I am hopeing I will find here with my art... a foreign delight that hasn't been evident by the many art professionals on the other side of the water. That's another blog, another time, another place...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Rhetorical punches

One afternoon of late my beloved was talking with one of his bosses about the
Gallery Crawl every month although he had written about it about a dozen times in the past
few years, He said 'You need to get out and buy some art, like so and so," a philanthropist he had recently interviewed. The boss snorted. "Listen, I went to the So and SO Gallery that time and bought a nice piece of art." Whereupon Mr. Beloved replied, "But did you go there when
Mrs Beloved had her work up?" Bosses eyes got big, "I didn't know Mrs Beloved had her art there."

Mr. Beloved said, "She has, a few times."

Said boss busied himself with his envelope stuffing as he said, "Well,
Mrs Beloved's art is...deep, it's deep art. I'm a beach chairs between umbrellas
kind of person. I'm not a deep art kind of person."

Ouch. What a relief! Ouch!!! Read it and weep. At least the boss knows what he is, and
doesn't pretend.

Its a curse, I think. Caring about something more than beach chairs between umbrellas.
I've often wished I could be satisfied just painting flowers or landscapes or as Jack Beal promotes "Breakfast and Babies!" Of course there are paintings of flowers abd landscapes that I'd love to look at forever! Life might be a lot easier if I could spend my time only painting such subjects.