Friday, December 10, 2010

Honorable Mention

It always feels good to be recognized so it was great to get an Honorable Mention for my painting of Desi at the December All-Media show at the Art League Gallery. The juror this month was William Schran who is the Assistant Dean of Fine Arts and Assistant Professor of Art/Ceramics at Northern Virginia Community College. It also feels good to go to the Torpedo Factory during this time of year because not only is it decorated for Christmas, but King Street in Old Town has lights up from the Masonic Temple all the way to Union Street. Festive!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trip to Paris

Just spent a very inspirational week over Thanksgiving in Paris with Eric and both daughters. We stayed at a small luxury hotel called the Hotel St. James near the Arc de Triomphe that was perfect for us. Our suite was big with two bathrooms and it was located right near a metro stop. It was low season so the only things we had to stand in line for were the Monet show for about 45 minutes and the Eiffel Tower for about 20 minutes. It was colder than D.C. but with our coats we were fine, it was never bitter cold.

We saw many of the main attractions: The Louvre, Tuileries Gardens, Musee d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Pompidou Center, Champs-Elysees, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, Bon Marche (famous department store), Rue Cler (really cute open market street) and fortunately for us the huge Monet show at the Grand Palais.

It was really amazing to distill the imagery that we saw in the Louvre with most women bare-breasted no matter what else was going on in the painting and they were either touching themselves or another woman. If there was a child they were either sucking on their mother's breast or they had their hand there. There were many dead hares, raw meat and we lost count of how many dogs there were sniffing, licking, fighting and just hanging around. Oh, and I think we saw a baby Jesus with a mohawk. Of course we saw the Mona Lisa, but you can't really get an up-close look at her because she is glassed-in and roped-off. It was an overwhelming and mind-opening experience because everything was so beautiful and nothing seemed off-limits. My favorite sculpture was Psyche and Cupid by A. Canova. The Musee d'Orsay was the favorite gallery of the trip with so many impressionist paintings but I was excited to see a huge very intense Bouguereau painting called Dante et Virgile and happy to see an Antonio Mancini painting in person.

In addition to the in-town attractions, we took a day trip out to Versailles and went through the palace and gardens. There was a Murakami show going on and the sculptures provided a striking contrast to the centuries old rooms in which they were displayed. I wish we had allowed more time to wander around. It is so huge and we didn't have enough time to see Marie Antoinette's Estate where she would go to get privacy. The grounds went on and on. What a treat it would be to have time to wander around different parts of the garden each day.

We also had a very creepy trip to the catacombs. In 1785, the council of state issued a decree requiring the removal of all human remains from the cemeteries because of a public-health issue and they decided to store all the remains in the disused limestone quarries. This went on until 1860. It is a 45 minute walk through endless tunnels of human bones and skulls arranged in different patterns, very dark and sometimes wet with water dripping on your clothes, but totally fascinating.

On a miscellaneous note, we ate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Joe Allen restaurant which is the Paris branch of the restaurant we go to in New York near Broadway. It was fun and very relaxing to celebrate an American holiday in Paris. We had some really excellent food in Paris, but our favorite restaurant (recommended by the Lukeman family) was Chez Janou. It was crowded and lively with old tiles on the walls and just felt very French and not touristy.