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“Paris Past, Present and Future”

In four short days, we will be saying hello to the new year of 2007, wondering where the days of 2006 went to so seemingly swift. The older we get, the speedier they seem to go, all things being relative. It’s the curse of aging to realize that as each moment passes, it becomes just that much smaller a portion of our pre-determined lives, however long that might be.

It is a time of reflection, when we take both an assessment of the past and look forward to the future…like the Roman god Janus, god of gates, doorways, beginnings, and endings, often depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. The month of January bears his name, symbolizing change and transitions, the progression of PAST to FUTURE, movement of one condition to another, or of one vision to another and of one universe to another.

In today’s world we are constantly recording our PRESENT lives…in the photos we take, the electronic impressions we make (via our emails) or the data recorded (when we extract cash at the automatic teller). The moment that impression is made, it immediately becomes a thing of the PAST, leaving us with the PRESENT and an imaginary FUTURE.

This past year, American portrait artist Kathy Burke who has lived in Paris about 35 years, invited me to pose for a portrait. Humanity fascinates her and portraiture is her passion, having painted many well known Parisians over the years, including former mayor of Paris, Jean Tiberi, actress and singer Elli Mederos and photographer Edouard Boubat.

Time sped by in our busy lives leaving us no moment to make this kind of a recording until now over the holiday season. While families gathered next to their Christmas trees to open gifts, I sat in an armchair in the center of Kathy’s beautiful studio in Le Marais while she gingerly stroked the tiny square canvas.

There are painters that record the scene, trading the eye of a camera lens for the eye of the artist, but Kathy fits another genre of artist. Her work merges the eye of the artist with the soul of the subject. She paints what she sees, not just from the surface, but from what she sees of the person within, so her portraits are not exact renditions of a person’s physical character traits, age among them.

At one point, she put down her brushes and stepped back to judge her own work, declaring it complete. “Come see what you think,” she said. I hesitated before turning to face my own face in what is the mirror of Kathy Burke. The woman Kathy painted was younger than me, but the knowing experience of life was there, with an eye on the artist and the future.

On Christmas Day afternoon, I left the studio in the biting, misty cold, heading down the deserted street toward home reflecting on the more than 12 past years living in the City of Light, the present moment of solitude and satisfaction and the future I can only dream about…and how Kathy’s soulful rendition of the physical person was so symbolic of the meshing of time we experience at this end/beginning of the year.

My New Year’s Resolution? To reflect on the past using it only for practical reasons to plan for the future, but to live in the present. The only life we have is NOW…and for now, it’s in Paris.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. For more information about Kathy Burke and her portraiture, visit

P.P.S. If you’ve always dreamed of owning a pied-à-terre in Paris or home in the French countryside, then do it NOW…don’t miss the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Seminar on Friday, December 29th. Book your place online or walk in to register…/frenchproperty/conference

P.P.P.S. Parler Paris is seeking a Rentals Coordinator and Personal Assistant to work entirely electronically, but must be located in Paris. If you’re seriously interested, send a letter of introduction or resume to [email protected]

P.P.P.P.S. A whole Paris apartment of beautiful decorator furniture is selling for pennies on the Euro! Scroll down for more information.


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