Sleepless Nights and Other Artistic Evenings in Paris
I was a very proud mama last week when my daughter’s photography was exhibited at the Mairie of the 9th Arrondissement in a special exhibition of Objectif Femmes to honor five women photographers (chosen out of 300 applications). This was part of La Biennale de Paris, and sponsored by ParisArtistes. I know that’s a “mouth full,” as there were so many “players” in the production of these events that have taken place all over the city to honor Paris’ creative community.
The “vernissage” (opening) took place Wednesday night at the Mairie of the 9th, where the youthful woman Mayor, Delphine Bürkli, opened the ceremony with a few words as did a few of the organizers, including Karine Paoli, President of ParisArtistes, who offered up a bit about the “objective” of the event to honor young women artists.
Erica’s work had a whole room to itself — the space at the Mairie large enough to feature each of the artists in this way. In conjunction with her series of photos on display, titled “Dancers in the Dark,” she sponsored a dance performance by two local artists who performed in the courtyard of the Mairie after the opening ceremonies and presentation of the award. While the dancers were not the same as those in her photos, their rendition mirrored the images well and set a tone for the entire evening. Erica Simone didn’t walk away with the first prize given by the judges, but she did win the “Prix Choix du Public” (Public Choice Award).
The festivities didn’t end there, as the following night, one of her photos from the same series was on display at the Bastille Design Center and facebook.com/Bastille-Design-Center, again as part of the ParisArtistes program (parisartistes.com), where 70 contemporary French and international emerging artists’ works in a wide variety of diversity of media were displayed and honored. Built in the mid of the 19th-century, the Bastille Design Center at 74 Boulevard Richard Lenoir in the 11th, was just a hardware store until 2005. Today, this three-level open gallery is a veritable showcase for Paris artists and one of the city’s hidden gems.
Saturday morning, bright and early, newcomers to Paris gathered at the American Church of Paris to attend the 54th annual Bloom Where You’re Planted program. I was the second of the keynote speakers to address the participants, in the sanctuary of the church. Flagged with a host of questions about finding financing, how to secure a long-term rental and host of other property-related inquiries, it was obvious how difficult it is for newcomers to find their way in the maze of French real estate. The pile of Eiffel Tower keychains attached to business cards I set on the podium for anyone to take got scarfed up in the blink of an eye as a result.
Peter Caine of Paris Walks preceded me with a wonderful overview of Paris history in three parts — from which I learned many things I didn’t know before, such as the fact that Baron Haussmann, regardless of all the amazing changes he made to the city of Paris, the Paris we know today, was accused of falsifying accounts and was used as a scapegoat and ousted from France!
Craig Carlson, proprietor of two restaurants named Breakfast in America and author of Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France, spoke just after me, and after he and his partner, Julien Cameroy served up pancakes and bacon for breakfast to the attendees. He had us all cracking up with his hilarious tales of what it’s like to start such a business in France! (Entrepreneurship in France is not for the faint of heart…)
The day followed with the church auditorium set up with a couple dozen stands represented by a variety of organizations and services where attendees could gather information. Plus, a table of books for sale was set up by the Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore and for book signings by authors, Craig Carlson, Cara Black (the Aimée Leduc Murder Mystery Series) and Lisa Anselmo (My [Part-Time] Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home). Both Lisa and Cara spoke after lunch was served. Lisa talking
about how to “Create Your Best Life In Paris” with her tips on how to navigate the challenges of expat life, learn from them, and actually use them to create a more satisfying life — beyond your time in Paris in a fun and informative way, speaking very much from the heart. Cara gave us insights into how she got started writing and why everyone can tell stories, of any kind.
A special thanks goes to Sherry and David Finkelstein, the directors of “Bloom,” the American Church of Paris and all the other organizers of the event. I left before the “Wine Down,” when everyone came together for wine, cheese and other snacks, but just in time to prepare for La Nuit Blanche.
“Sleepless Night” (not “White Night” as it literally translates) is an annual event in Paris that invites you to see the city in a different way, at night, lit by moonlight, neon and other lights. Always on the first Saturday in October, in all parts of the city, “artists present installations, exhibitions, concerts performances, trails, staged scene sets and creations that explore all facets of contemporary art and offer a new view of the city.” Paris transport stayed open all night so that we could visit some of the “dozens of avant-garde projects of international artists. First organized in 2002 by the then mayor Bertrand Delanoë, and like the summer Fête de la Musique, it has spread around the world to other cities in France and other European capitals.
With friends, we queued up for an hour to enter the Musée Picasso to see the new exhibition that opened that evening , “Picasso Tableaux Magiques” (on until February 23, 2020). Free and open to the public in honor of La Nuit Blanche, these paintings “that Picasso did over a period of some four years (summer 1926-spring 1930) form a cohesive group, which Christian Zervos would later (1938) term as ‘Tableaux Magiques.’ Principally figure paintings, mostly of women, provide an interesting perspective on how Picasso viewed women (this is me talking). I’m not a big fan of the artist, but more because of his relationship with women than with his work. These were certainly not among my favorites.
In the courtyard of the Hôtel Salé, the private mansion that houses the collection and was awarded the Historic Monument status in October 1968, was a choreographic dance performance that took place between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. by Yaïr Barelli, “Sur l’interprétation – titre de l’instant,” a kind of real-time creation. I didn’t “get it,” but I’m sure the “more intellectual” French did!
In the knick of time, we trekked down to rue St. Antoine to see the final moments of the parade that started earlier at Place de la Concorde and ran along rue de Rivoli to the Bastille. The recurring theme in all parades I’ve seen in France, with the exception of the annual military parade on July 14th, is that the floats and characters are ghoulish, grotesque and frightening! This is certainly true for the Carnaval de Nice; something that never ceases to amaze me. Their idea of “fun” is in complete contrast to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, where the floats and characters are colorful, pretty and happy.
It seems to say a lot about French culture…but what, I’m not entirely sure. There was one exception, and in total contrast to the others: a hot-air balloon of a woman, wearing glasses just like mine, and written on her top was “Yes to all!” After Lisa Anselmo’s talk at the American Church, during which she talked about how the answer is always “No!” until you negotiate a “Yes!,” it struck me how the parade balloon didn’t fit the scene at all. Who was she, I wondered? And how did she get in there among the ghouls and goblins? Maybe she was the American in the crowd…? I hoped so.
Wednesday I’ll be in Nice, taping my first “Mediterranean Life” episode, another show by HGTV with our client, Donna Kuker and her sister. The format is a bit different than House Hunters International — so stay tuned for a report next week on how that goes down!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(at Objectif Femmes)
P.S. Don’t miss tomorrow’s Après Midi when author and speaker Lisa Anselmo discusses her memoir, My (Part-Time) Paris Life (St Martin’s Press), and shares how you can create your own story — one that resonates and sets you apart. If you want to write a book, start a blog or podcast — express yourself artistically in any medium — Lisa will show you how to uncover your unique voice and find a passionate following.
P.P.S. To hear another one of our favorite authors speak, come to the American Library October 23rd at 7:30 p.m. for “Evenings with an Author” when Cara Black discusses her latest murder mystery, “Murder in Bel-Air.” See americanlibraryinparis.org/event/ for more information.