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Paris Street Art

21 May

Art is not to be taught in Academies. It is what one looks at, not what one listens to, that makes the artist. The real schools should be the streets. ~ Oscar Wilde

The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum, and The Cluny are a few of the most famous art venues in Paris.

Another place you will find art in the City of Light is in the streets and alleyways of the city. Some might see it as vandalism or just graffiti, but I think Oscar Wilde would approve.

In today’s blog I would like to share a slideshow of the art I enjoyed while traversing the streets of Paris last summer.

Please pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay or perhaps Bordeaux, put an Edith Piaf CD on to play, and sit back and take in a sampling of the street art of Paris.

Amusez-vous!

An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

 

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things, Dammit!

31 Dec

1913 2013 is drawing to a rapid close. I realize I haven’t shown my blog all of the love I intended to show it this year, so I thought I’d slap something together see what I can do about crafting an end of the year blog.

So, 2013 dawned on January 1, 2013….

OK I guess you knew that.

I don’t really feel like recapping this particular year. Not until I have consulted with my lawyers, anyway. Suffice to say, any year in which you have to retain an attorney, can’t be all good.

Still, I do not like to be negative. At least not ALL the time. So, I tried to think of some sort of mood enhancer that might help me.

When I say mood enhancer, I mean something that doesn’t come in a bottle or a container with a child proof cap (which, by the way, any child can open with ease, but elderly older people have a bitch of a time opening those prescription bottles. I should know. Every time I need to reach for my meds I have to carry the bottle across the street so my neighbor’s 7 year old can open it for me.)

Some of you may have heard of a little musical I like to call The Sound of Music. Apparently a lot of people like to call it that, because that is it’s title. It is based on some stuff that happened to this family who would not stop singing no matter what  circumstances, and the nun who came to love them and eventually marry their father–thus ruining her nun career forever. Also, there are Nazis and Nazis are bad.

I think that sums up The Sound of Music very well. It was a big hit on Broadway,  so Hollywood made it into a movie starring Julie Andrews back in the 60’s. Apparently  NBC recently did a live television production of this show starring Carrie Underwood.

Personally, I don’t know who Carrie Underwood  is, but I assume she is the heiress to the Underwood Deviled Ham fortune. I think it is better to use real actors and singers when putting on a play, but these rich people are always shoving their heiresses on us and  calling them entertainers, so why not this deviled ham lady?

I did not see the NBC production, as I once had to sit through the original movie at a family gathering when it was broadcast on TV one Thanksgiving a decade or so ago. One of my cousins (one of my relatives that did a lot of drugs at the time) insisted on singing along to every damn song in the movie and, make no mistake, there are a LOT of songs in that movie. Some movies do not live up to their titles but The Sound of Music most definitely does. The movie is going along and people are having a conversation like people do and then, “oh shit–I think they’re going to sing again!” Even the Mother Superior sings and she isn’t even in the family! (Really? I’d like to see her Climb Every Mountain in that habit!)

If said cousin had perhaps offered me some of whatever it was she was on at the time, I too might have enjoyed the movie. Instead, that Thanksgiving got placed on the Holidays From Hell list. (Not  a short list, either. Not by a country mile.) So I couldn’t bring myself to watch this new production for fear my PSTD might kick in.

I heard that a lot of people who watched the live version starring the deviled ham heiress were not impressed. People who love the movie were all, “it’s a classic!” or “Heresy!” WTF? It is an old Broadway musical. Can you imagine how many truly awful high school and dinner theater productions there must have been in the last 50 years of so? Get over it!

I really only thought to mention The Sound of Music because there is a song in the show called My Favorite Things.

Maria, the naughty nun who eventually shacks up with the singing children’s father, provides a list of her favorite things (in song form, natch) and says when something goes wrong (biting dogs, stinging bees, etc,) she makes a point of remembering her favorite things and then she doesn’t feel so bad.

Yeah. Like that will work. “I just totaled my car—let me remember how much I love whiskers on kittens. That will make me feel much better!’

So getting back to the beginning of whatever it was I was trying to do with this blog, I thought I’d take a page from Maria Von Trapp’s songbook and, since I don’t feel like discussing this year, I will instead focus on some of my favorite things, I’m pretty sure, unlike Maria, I will still feel bad, but then I will just make a pilgrimage across the street and get that little boy to open my prescription bottle for me. (One or two of those pretty light blue pills should do the trick…)

In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite things:

Old typewriters

Old typewriters

Neon

Neon

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Street Art

Street Art

Actually, I like a lot of different art.

Actually, I like a lot of different art.

Old books

Old books

I also like new books and bookstores.

I also like new books and bookstores.

Journals and blank books.

Journals and blank books.

It might be possible that the only reason I keep a journal is because it gives me an excuse to buy interesting notebooks and blank books.

Writing in my journal in cafes and coffee shops..

Writing in my journal in cafes and coffee shops.

Then again, I might also keep a journal because I love hanging out  and writing in places that serve really good coffee.

Bicycles. I definitely love bicycles.

bike with mirror2 Bicycles. I definitely love bicycles.

May the New Year bring you all of your favorite things along with the blessing that comes from having a special someone in your life who can open the child proof caps on your prescriptions.

Happy New Year!

Street Art of Paris

5 Aug

Today I want to share some of the images I captured of street art when I was in Paris. For the purposes of this blog, I am loosely defining “street art.”

For the most part, I will let the images speak for themselves. (Click on image for a larger view.)

A lamp post near Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery

These are images painted on the street–faces on asphalt.

Technically, I don’t know if this qualifies as street art. It was a PSA posted at a bus stop. Excellent advice for everyone.

Happy Weekend!

Happy Birthday, Keith Haring

4 May

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: “where did the week go?!” Then, in about 26 days, I’ll be saying, “Where did the month go?”

And if I keep that train of thought going until it gets to the last station, I’ll be blogging about being on my death bed, so we’re just gonna nip this in the bud before things get out of hand.

I was very happy to see that today’s Google doodle celebrates artist Keith Haring. Today would have been his 54th birthday.

I’ve always loved Keith Haring’s work. It just makes me smile. Keith Haring strikes me as a man driven first and foremost by his desire to draw. Haring once said, “My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can.”

Keith Haring came to fame in the 1980’s with chalk drawings in the subways of New York. His works were deceptively simple images depicting babies, dogs, love, war and death.

Having started as a graffiti artist, Haring wanted to make his art accessible to everyone. Toward this end, he opened The Pop Shop in New York and Tokyo. Haring’s images were available on cards, clothing, coloring books and buttons.

I was fortunate enough to visit the Pop Shop in Tribeca in 2003. One of my oldest friends and I both happened to be in New York on business at the same time. My friend and I  had a great day together and our visit to the Pop Shop was one of the highlights. The shops have now closed as retail establishments, but the merchandise can still be ordered online. (www.pop-shop.com.)

Keith Haring was also an activist. He was openly gay and an advocate for safe sex. Keith was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. In 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and art to AIDS organizations and to expand the audience for Keith’s work though exhibits and licensing of his images.

“In June 1989, on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of Sant’Antonio (in Italian: Chiesa di Sant’Antonio abate) in Pisa (Italy), he painted the last public work of his life, the mural “Tuttomondo” (translate: “all-world”), along with 6 animated inserts for Sesame Street (which later aired a year after his death)…” -Wikepedia

Keith Haring and I were both born in 1958. Sadly, like too many gay men of my generation, Keith Haring died of AIDS-related complications in 1990.

If you don’t know Keith Haring’s work, I urge you to Google him. If you are fortunate enough to be in the New York area between now and July 8, you can visit the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition of Keith Haring’s early work.

Yesterday morning I wrote about transcendent moments. This morning I found a quote from Keith Haring that speaks to the act of creation as being one of those moments. Keith doesn’t use the term “transcendent moment” but he certainly describes it:

“When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about.”

Happy Keith Haring’s birthday and Happy Friday.

Night at the Museum

21 Mar

I didn’t oversleep so much as my body decided to remain in Occupy Bed mode a full 20 minutes longer than my finely honed morning schedule should permit. From a blog perspective, the only option is to type faster.

My significant other and I did something that rocked the universe on it’s axis last night–we left the house after dinner. Anyone feel the aftershocks?

It would have been more earth shaking if we had actually gone out for dinner, but the significant other cooked corned beef and cabbage for dinner–a personal favorite of mine. Ray has this cute way of never exactly knowing what day it is and he always pretends to be oblivious to holidays and special events, so he seemed happily perplexed last week when both Publix and Winn Dixie had corned beef on sale. “What’s that all about?”  I like to view this obliviousness as a “devil may care” attitude rather than the symptoms of early dementia, as he has always been this way.

We didn’t eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day–we had Chinese in fact, but we did have corned beef and cabbage and potatoes last night.

Then, to her horror, we put the dog in the laundry room, which is where we put her when we’re going out and she isn’t coming along. The dog was all, “How can you be going out? You already had dinner and it is a school night!” She hasn’t been this perplexed since that Sunday a few weeks ago when I actually did some house cleaning.

Off we went to the Cummer Museum of Art. Tuesdays from 4pm to 9pm, admission is free and there is an exhibit we were both eager to see.

Apparently the museum came into some money since the last time I was there. There were rooms I don’t remember ever seeing before. There was actually more art than we had time to take in before the museum closed, so we honed in on the Japanese woodblock prints and then the exhibit of Impressionism and Post Impressionism from the High Museum of Art.

I love a good art museum and, as you can tell, it had been a while since I had been there. I was really grooving on the adventure of leaving the house after dinner (and on a week night!)–fully knowing that it was bound to be DARK before we returned home. Heady stuff. Then there was the art itself–one transcendent experience after another.

I should have known something would go awry.

My significant other has a penchant for getting into trouble. Yes, people, there is a price to pay for having a thing for “bad boys.” Only a bad boy, gone to seed, could get in trouble in an art museum.

As you may know, I love the human race. Each and every one. But there is one particular group that tends to get on my nerves.

That group would be museum guards.

I am sure they serve a valuable purpose. I am sure the High Museum would not have loaned these priceless treasures to the backwater of Jacksonville, FL without the promise of adequate security. So, at some level, I am sure guards are good. But museum guards have a special knack for killing my art induced buzz.

It began when we were looking at the Japanese woodblock prints. I am transfixed on a scene of Mount Fuji and some clod of a guard walks into that particular gallery with his walkie talkie ablaze with babble. And you know every single person who talks into a walkie talkie has to put their mouth as close to the speaking hole as possible. So not only was some woman broadcasting, she was broadcasting unintelligibly. Which required the guard to respond. Which required her to broadcast some more. In a basically silent gallery, this was a huge distraction.

Thank the Art Gods, the clod moved along.

Then we made our way to the Impressionism show. Shortly after we arrived, a woman guard managed to drop her walkie talkie on the floor. BLAM! My buzz was ailing, if not already dying.

Ray and I walked from painting to painting, taking in each masterpiece. Sometimes leaning in to look at details, sometimes stepping back to get the full effect of the work. I thought that is the way you are supposed to look at art.

I had just finished taking in a delightful Toulouse-Lautrec and had moved on to the next piece. Ray stood before the Toulouse-Lautrec. He stepped back. He leaned in.

“Sir, you’re standing too close!”

We both heard it. We both ignored it. My first thought was, “someone is telling Ray you can’t really appreciate this masterpiece if you are standing too close.” But no.

This museum guard stood beside Ray and began gesturing to demonstrate how terribly important it was that Ray keep a certain distance from the painting. “You have to step back!”

I’m just gonna say it–WTF?

Ray muttered “asshole” under his breath, which is really a shockingly restrained response coming from him. Having known him a few decades, I knew that the wheels were turning and was waiting for the smoke to start coming out of his ears. The phrase, “He’s gonna blow!” came to mind.

We moved along for a little while. I tried to make small talk about the pictures and Ray managed to hold up his end of the conversation. Then he said, “I’m going to go ask that asshole his name!” “Why?” “So I can report him!”

It is difficult to be stern when speaking in a library or museum voice. One tends to hiss. But as sternly as I could, I said, “Do not make a scene! This is why we never leave the house after dark!”

This illogical statement seemed to sooth the savage grump for a moment or two. I began taking in the art again.

Taking in the art. Taking in the art.

Then Ray hissed something: “Look! That woman is standing too close to that painting!” I looked. He was right. I had already observed this attractive blond woman in close quarters with another painting. Here she was again–her face right there next to a painting. Ray and I both looked over at the guard. He was just standing around, looking the other way while some patron committed a serious breach of art observer protocol.

This travesty of justice would not stand. Ray marched over to the guard. I did not hear what he said, as he was using museum hissy voice, but he gesticulated in the direction of the blond lady whose nose was only inches from an Impressionist (or Post-Impressionist) canvas.

I watched the guard walk over to the woman. They chatted briefly, and she stepped back. The guard walked away.

This was not enough for Ray. Oh, no. He had to go over to the blond lady and strike up a conversation so the two of them could  commiserate  about the ridiculous demands of the museum guard.

The woman had a French accent. She was young, blond and quite lovely. She is exactly the sort of person one expects to see when visiting an art museum.

Ray came back to me and told me about their conversation. “She said, (Ray did a bad French accent) ‘But this is how you look at paintings–you look close to admire ze brush strokes, you step back, you look at ze painting!'” (yes, Ray said “ze” instead of “the”–I told you his French accent was bad!)

Despite the altercation with the guard, I managed to find a transcendental moment or two–especially when I stood before a Monet. The museum announced they were closing, so the bad boy gone to seed and I stepped out into the night and drove home.

Who else can get in trouble at an art museum? Besides art thieves, I mean? A cautionary tale for anyone else who is attracted to bad boys. Let this be a lesson to you all.

I suppose this is the price one pays for leaving home after dinner. Life is such an adventure, isn’t it?

Happy Wednesday.

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