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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Counting the hours

Soon, soon, I'll be back in the womb of my studio and home with cat furr and a garden to weed and a million things to take care of. For now, there is April in Paris. I haven't been sleeping much. Waking early, going to Piscine Pointoise at 7am and them walking back to my atelier with wet hair and my digital camera. The light, the gardens, the stillness of the morning have been some of the most exquisite moments ever.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Inside and Out

Today I prepared for my open atelier next week and then made my way into the evening solo.
There was an interesting curated exhibition at the Swiss Cultural Centre where the courtyard bar was a mob scene and the galleries were pleasantly empty. I actually ran into a number of Swiss artists (Christine) and Emika, of course, who is everywhere.... and could see the show.
It was very fresh and fun... vibrant work to think about.

I left the Marais and walked more than half way to Montparnasse where I had dinner with friends in the 14th ar. Jo is one of my oldest and most inspiring friends... a great chef and successful painter. I stayed way past the magic hour when the metro stops and was lucky a Maltese friend stopped by with a car. She dropped me off at Les Halles so I still got in a beautiful walk on the way home.

One of the things I've noticed on these late weekend walks is a new freedom... or bohemian presence in the heart of Paris. There were bongos in the distance and I looked across the Seine and could see a bonfire at the point of the small island separating the right bank fromt the Isle de la Cite. It was shocking... seeing a fire on the cobblestones of this ancient island... and a complete lack of disregard from the authorities. I have conflicted feelings about this. Hey, its great to see kids playing music in the heart of the city at 2:00am but fire is another matter.

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Walking on the Moon

It's been a long week. The days are growing longer and time is languid. I am reading "Paris to the Moon" and trying to stretch its ending to coincide with the end of my time here. They are leaving Paris and so am I. Yesterday as I walked to the 14th a. via rue du Seine and rue Napolean I stumbed on Deroille on rue du Bac. The spelling is wrong, I am sure, but the photograph conveys its sensibility. It was once a shop of taxidermists in the early 20th. Over the years people would bring in dead pets, have them taxidermied and then forget to come and get them. As the century turned the shop has become a ritzy gardening shop that uses the animals in its window displays and has a sort of natural history museun on the second floor - but one where one can buy an exotic butterfly collection for a thousand euros or so. Still, its an amazing, authentic step back in time. I've never been anyplace like it.

We first stumbled across the shop walking back from the Musee Malloil back in March. The window displays were far beyond anything our animal rights activist friend Y. had ever seen before. Mr. DD was visiting as well. I still don't know if Y. was offended or facinated by their use of taxidermied animals modeling their gardening gear. Mr. DD had just delivered the "moon" book so I hadn't begun reading it so the significance of shop escaped us.

I am grateful to have run across it again and know that if I weren't a dedicated walker I would have missed it. If I had been driving or taking the metro to Montparnasse I would have missed so many things. I spent so much time there that I finally had to get on the metro to meet my friends for a Pastisse and find our dinner. We wound up at a fabulous Berber place on a quiet street around the corner. It was such a splendid night the owner set up a table on the sidewalk and we dined alfresco.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

St. Cloud

I've been trying to find time to go to St. Cloud for more than two months. Its on the western edge of Paris and it isn't clear from my research which metro station is closest to the gardens there. I chose a lovely grey aftenoon to break away from the studio and dive into the St. Paul metro. As soon as my journey was underway and I had transferred to the regional train beyond Paris' borders the mobile began to ring. My friend G. was calling me from the Cite - "Where are you? she asked? She just happened to be in the Marais and stopped by with our expatriot writer friend for a coffee. J. called as well and is leaving to return to Australia tomorrow... she wants to get together sometime tonite...perhaps after her romantic rendevous... and to really add another level of social activity I am unprepared for I am leaving the gardens and going straight to the Power Atelier to visit with another wonderful Australian couple and their six month old.

In the meantime there are mysteries of St. Cloud - a place I've found little info on in English or French. According to the helpful attendant in the bookstore there very few English speakers make it out to St. Cloud. Its is frequented by locals and only when the weather is great. I walked around this expansive site with amazing views on a lovely overcast aftenoon with only a few joggers and strollers on the horizon. I had the place to myself and it was pure magic. I realized how much I missed the smells of the country. The Jardin du Luxembourg or the Jardin du Plantes are great... but these parks are part of the organism of the city and have a different kind of wildness... certainly no wilderness. St. Cloud is on the edge of wilderness. I could smell the bark of the trees and the moss...and it was exhilarating. I love the city but nothing is more healing than to be enveloped in the softer side of nature's elements.

St. Cloud has the grandeur of Versaille (which is very close by) but an element of decrepitude that I found very attractive. I scoured the grounds for sculpture and fountains and took hundreds of photos. Marie Antoniette once owned the villa that was the centerpiece of this estate. Now it is gone but it feels like the shadow it cast is still present.

I didn't know what to expect here so I didn't bring anything with me other than my camera, media and umbrella. Low blood sugar motivated me to find a bus from the St. Cloud train station which took me all the way back to Hotel de Ville without a transfer.

It was a great ride through the suburbs (there is a Tamara de Lempicka exhibition out here... I've seen nothing about this in Paris...) past the Eiffel Tower, the Palais de Tokyo, Tuileries, Louvre and back to the 4th. Now its good my Australian friends served something with the exquisite wine we drank or I would have faded fast tonite. If I'd had time I'd have gone by a boulangerie but I was running late.

J. called around 10:30 or 11pm and I was still upstairs. She and F. were in the reception and I met them in my atelier. They actually had herbal tea with me since both has worn themselves thin during their Romanian adventure. (Too much of a good thing...) It was a very different send off than Y. had one month ago but it was still so great seeing them. They've been very supportive of my work and I've not even had a chance to see theres since J. was working in London and F. is a filmaker. In time I hope all will be revealed. Its nice to have things to look forward to.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

April in Paris

My friend Yvette is back in Australia and I've been left to my own devices to amuse myself. Of course this can be dangerous since I am most prone to being a work acoholic. Yvette's last night in town we attended a vernissage at Galeri Felli. One of the artists I met told me of an exhibition at Belleville in a Squat Space that sounded interesting. I mentioned it to the Frenchman Fab and Australian Jane and they were up for it - so we were off. I haven't really hung out with Fab and Jane very much. They are Yvettels buddies - but its great. It is a splendid evening and we started the evening at the Canal St. Martin near Belleville. It is so nice out that we sat outside and ordered Pastisse - my first of the season - my first in maybe ten years. The moon is rising, the stars are out and Jane and Fab are in love. Somehow its ok being a third wheel in Paris although it would be even better is Mr. DD were here.

We made our way to the Squat Space - a large empty building in Belleville that was taken over for the evening. Of course the entire event was a huge fire hazzard with smokers, crowds and stairwells that I wouldn't want to see in good light adding an air of risk to the event. The show was of course about democracy and the war in Iraq... with contemporary video, performance art, painting, sculpture and installation filling three floors of timeless decrepitude. I loved it.
The building pulsed. It leaked water out the side... the streets were was Paris.

Afterwards we were to PHO again. I first visited it Yvette's last night. I think the food is Vietnamese but I'm not sure. I know I love their spicey soup and it is so cheap I would eat here once a week if it were a little closer to the Cite. Fab and Jane are in love. I makes me homesick for my beloved. I wonder if they will be able to make love stay. It is not an easy thing.

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