Bloom, Sleepless, Picasso, Hunting…All in the Life of a Weekend in Paris
BLOOMING IN PARIS
Everything came up roses at Saturday’s Bloom Where You’re Planted event at the American Church. The volunteer organizers, Sherry and David Finkelstein, and all of their volunteer staff, did an amazing job to pull off a very successful all-day affair. According to the organizers, they had about 30 walk-ins — a good problem to have ensuring they had enough lunch and seats for the onslaught.
For a couple of hours midday, various organizations had tables at which you could speak with their own representatives and learn more about what they did. At SOS Helpline I learned that next Sunday is their annual book and bake sale at the American Cathedral. If you have books you wish to donate or purchase, now is the time to do so! Visit soshelpline.org/ for more information!
Carl and Norma Mir came in from Brussels, where they are living, to host their table for Mir Enterprises. Carl is an American tax preparer whose company is designed to “ensure that their clients accomplish their financial goals of taxation while living abroad.” I’ve been working successfully with Carl for several years, so feel free to give him a call to learn more.
Speakers at the event included authors Lisa Anselmo of My (Part-Time) Paris Life and Craig Carlson of Breakfast in America restaurants and the memoir Pancakes in Paris, who both really charmed the audience with their PowerPoint presentations and stories about life in Paris. They each sold and signed lots of their books, thanks to the new Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore now located at 9 Rue de Médicis, 6th.
I had a big audience for my own presentation, “French Property the American Way” and discovered how many newcomers are already interested in purchasing property now that they’re settled into their long-term rental apartments. (If you want to get a glimpse of the presentation, read last week’s French Property Insider.)
Mark your calendar to attend next year’s event…always sometime in October.
After a busy day at the American Church, having a sleepless night wasn’t as inviting as it might have been otherwise, but not to be daunted, a small group of us set out to find a few of the city’s interesting installations as part of “La Nuit Blanche.” This is the annual event that takes place on the first Saturday of October — an all-night arts festival when one can discover all sorts of strange and beautiful creations offered on the streets of Paris. We stayed in “the hood” (Le Marais) where many of the art installations were on display.
Although we didn’t stay out all night or trek to too many, our favorite was at the Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis (99, rue Saint-Antoine, 4th). I wasn’t surprised, because as long ago as 2007, the church hosted my all time favorite La Nuit Blanche installation, a Question Mark by Robert Stadler — “a magnificent inquiry into a sacred place on the representation of religion.” He questioned, “Does God exist there?” And gave us something on which to meditate during a sleepless night. The question mark, made up of eight enormous inflated spheres, suspended from the dome of the church, aligned to form a question mark, but on different planes, both vertically and horizontally, it was simply the most beautiful and intriguing of them all over all the years I’ve attended.
This year, the installation of Flo Arnold‘s “Le Secret des Signes,” an “urban installation,” also at the Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, was close to equally as fascinating. She wrote, “These organic volumes float, are levitated and are not attached to a land, a space or an environment. These forms have no limit, they spread like a powder trail, revealing a cloud without explosion as in a dream. The use of white water repellent paper, light and sometimes soundtrack reinforces the idea of the ephemeral and spiritual. They have ‘a territory converging’ the universe!”
By chance, I discovered her floating organic forms mirrored in the skirt of a dress on display at Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine. By contrast, at the same Place, another installation was taking place — a performance art piece by Annie Lam and Catherine Ursin, one of whom was all in black, wearing a skirt of similar forms as Flo Arnold’s organic volumes, but nude from the waist up, her skin painted black. She was painting on a circular canvas on the ground of the Place behind a square screened area.
This public display would not have been possible in the U.S., where nudity in public places is illegal. Even on one’s own property, if the nude person is visible to the public, such as through an open window or sunbathing nude in your own backyard, is illegal. In some situations, there are constitutional protection for freedom of expression, particularly for nudity that is part of an artistic performance or political demonstration. Perhaps, this would have qualified, but what I see of my neighbors across the street from me…they’d have been arrested a long time ago!
PICKING FUN AT PICASSO
Smiling, adorable April Pett of April in Paris Tours invited my friends and me to a be the Guinea pigs of a brand new tour she will be offering of the Musée Picasso with a new tour guide in training, Zak Reay-Barry.
April prepared us for the tour:
“Pablo Picasso is the most famous, wealthy and influential artist of the 20th century, with a career spanning eight decades, transcending the art and the cultural landscape of the last century and ours. During this tour, you will understand about the man himself, as we explore his work: from his early classical paintings, inspired by the Spanish masters Goya, Velasquez, and El Greco, under the tutelage of his father into his own revolution to his relocation to Paris, where Picasso became Picasso. Not only will you learn about how he painted, but what inspired his constant changes in his method from his life. The rivalries, famously with French artist Henri Matisse, his collaborations with George Bracques, which gave birth to cubism, the movement that inspired modern art itself. His work with Jean Cocteau and The Ballet Rousse, which changed costume and stage design in theatre to the horrific wars, that took the lives of his closest friends that would plague him throughout his life, and of course, his great loves, his great heartbreaks from the women…that changed as much as his artistic output. Simply said he is the father of modern art, leaving behind forty thousand pieces of artwork at his death, he is the controversial genius who is still the benchmark for creation today. On this in-depth two-hour tour, you will not only see some of Picasso’s greatest masterpieces but you will learn the affect that he had, not only on his generation, but ours.”
And I prepared April and Zak for what kind of customer I was going to be: tough. I told them from the beginning that I was very familiar with the museum and wasn’t a big fan of Picasso’s, so the goal for Zak was to convert me to one. For those who know I have an apartment in Nice that is “Matissien,” in honor of my love for Matisse (one of Picasso’s biggest rivals, but later in life one of his best friends), I was going to give Zak a hard time both for the test of it, but also for the fun of it.
Zak passed the test, with flying colors, in spite of having gone on Sunday afternoon — the one Sunday of the month when the museum has free entry and peak attendance, when giving the tour would be the most challenging. As we walked from room to room, with Zak giving us a detailed account of Picasso’s life, clues into his personality, how he was influenced or not, what made him tick and how he lapsed into the various periods and genre of his work, other museum goers were leaning in to hear what he had to say. One of them even interrupted him to ask a question. What we learned about the genius child prodigy who painted a masterpiece in his teens, “Science and Charity” (1897), was a huge jump from what I already knew, but confirmed my feelings about him as a misogynist who couldn’t live with or without the love of women, but who had a kind of spell over the women he touched emotionally, a few of whom committed suicide. (Here’s an interesting article about his escapades)
I equated Pablo Picasso with Brett Kavanaugh, the conservative judge who was just sworn in to the Supreme Court in spite of his sexual misconduct, and I wondered: when are we going to stop overlooking such abhorrent behavior and start recognizing the man for who he truly is…not just a great artist or judge, but a monster? Sorry Zak, in spite of your brilliant lecture, which taught me more than I ever dreamed, I am still not a fan of Picasso’s — perhaps even less so!
This is not to say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the tour! In order to celebrate Picasso’s birth month (October 25th, 1881), April in Paris Tours is offering a 20% discount for any tours booked in October. The voucher is valid for six months — until April 30, 2019. Book it now!
Those interested in this new tour, or any others, for that matter, can reach April directly through her website.
HOUSE HUNTING INTERNATIONALLY
The producers of HGTV’s House Hunters International just booked the filming of three more episodes, all in the month of November (!!!) — one in Nice and two in Paris! This will be a record year with having filmed eight shows in 2018 alone, making the total count 36 shows since 2006, more than any other agent — in fact more than double of any other agent. Sunday while on tour of the Musée Picasso, I got stopped a couple of times by fans of the show, but one couple in particular, visitors from Chicago, showed me how they had sat next to Mick Jagger while at dinner Saturday night at Restaurant Le Voltaire and had a photo of him to prove it. I was wowed! But, what they said was that because they love House Hunters International so much, they loved spotting me just as much! That made me swoon with delight, naturally!
I will be looking for comparable properties in which we can tape: 1) one-bedroom in Nice (about 700€ to 800€ per month rent) and/or Paris (about 1,500€ per month rent) and 2) a studio apartment in Paris (valued at about 300,000€). If you have a property like that and would like to show it off in a House Hunters International, then please contact me ASAP at [email protected].
If you missed our most recent House Hunters International episode that aired last week, “Paris By the Books – Season 129, Episode 2,” you can view it for a very short time on Youtube — so don’t waste time! Click on it now!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(with April Pett, April in Paris Tours)
P.S. Don’t miss when Cara Black, author of the Aimée Leduc mystery novels, speaks at Après Midi tomorrow (!) Tuesday, October 9th! See adrianleeds.com/events/ for more details and see you there!
P.P.S. I’m headed to Nice on Wednesday, with a weekend in Perugia, Italy, so get ready for a new adventure in the Parler Nice Nouvellettre®.
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