We enjoyed the rare opportunity of a lazy day to work en atelier yesterday morning. I finished up Pont de l’Archevêché, while Miss Cyd completed a watercolor of the Moulin Rouge and caught up on her Photo Stream postings. Later, we walked over to the Place Saint Sulpice and had a delicious brunch at Café de la Mairie, where Miss Cyd had a Croque Monsieur and I enjoyed one of the best ham, cheese, and mushroom omelets I have had in quite some time. We shared a pot de Chardonnay with our meal and finished up with some espresso for me and a cappuccino for Cyd. Sated and happy, we went to the organ recital by Ben van Osteen at l’Eglise de Saint-Sulpice, which is just across the street from the café. It was totally amazing to hear classical music from this organ played by a master organist. Mr. Van Oosten, who teaches organ at the Conservatoire de Rotterdam and performs in concert on church organs all over Europe, played pieces by Widor, Boëly, Bach, Mendelssohn, Vierne, and Dupré. All of these musical selections sounded so incredible within the nave of Saint-Sulpice. It was truly an honor and a privilege to be able to sit there and enjoy his artistry. While being swept away by the wall of sound emanating from the organ behind us in this space, I sketched the pillars and the sculptures on the left side of the apse in ball point pen and may turn this sketch into a painting later on.
After the organ recital, Miss Cyd and I strolled through St. Germaine des Pres to the Great Canadian Pub for a couple of cold Kilkennys and met several interesting folks while we enjoyed our beers and a nice plate of nachos with chili. The first person was a Danish lawyer for the European Union who speaks five languages. We had a great chat about politics in the EU and the outlook for the EU economy. I am delighted by the strength of the dollar on this trip, which made for a very favorable exchange rate from our perspective, but obviously the folks in Europe have a more jaundiced view of this economic dynamic. The second person was a nice young nanny from New York who was in Paris to meet a friend of hers from Geneva, and the third person we met was a real American painter in Paris. Ealy Mays has lived in Paris for many years since shortly after he married a French woman in Mexico. He and I had a great discussion on the political situation in the USA. He is very concerned over the rise of socialism in America as he has experienced that political reality first-hand for many years here in France. It has been enlightening to examine the varying perceptions of American politics from European citizens and media outlets, as well as expatriated Americans, who are not constantly lulled by American media.
The view of the USA is vastly different on global news shows, like the BBC, from the perspectives depicted on American television. Ealy is from West Texas and has no illusions about American politics or the current and former administrations. We also talked about an upcoming retrospective that he is planning with the Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta this coming summer. I checked out his work online after we got back to the flat tonight and found it very interesting. I hope Ealy’s Atlanta exhibition goes well for him as he is friendly and seems to be a genuinely nice guy. After reading about the Impressionists (Roe, 2007) and the financial and personal difficulties they experienced during their lives, it was very refreshing to find an American who has not only found success, but has enjoyed a good life painting in Paris.
Today, we are planning our trips to the museums for tomorrow and Wednesday. We stopped by the Souvenirs et Services office across from Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité this morning to pick up our two-day Paris Museum passes, which will allow us to bypass the long lines and get right into the exhibits we want to see. While we were on the island, we went to Notre Dame and caught the noon mass on our way to the Paris Bastille Harley Davidson store for our obligatory T-shirts. After the Mass, we stopped by one of our favorite cafés in Paris, the Café Panis – just across the Petit Pont from Notre Dame – and had a nice brunch with a good bottle of Chardonnay. It was every bit as good as the brunch we had yesterday before the organ recital at the Place Saint-Sulpice.
We took the #4 Metro from St. Michel to the Strasbourg – Saint Denis station and transferred to the #8 to Chemin Vert station, which got us right across the street from the Harley dealer. We got our T-shirts and headed back to town. Since it’s also looking like another shipping box is necessary to make weight on our baggage heading back to the US, we stopped by Le Poste on rue Bonaparte to pick up another Colissimo XL box on our way back to the flat. It took 1o days for the last shipment to travel from Aix-en-Provence to my neighbor’s house in Benson, but it made it just fine, so one more box for souvenirs and paintings and we should be good for baggage on the way back Stateside.
We are looking forward to our visits to the Museé d’Orsay, the l’Orangerie, and the Louvre over the next two days as we wind down our stay in Paris. We got quite a bit of painting and sketching done while we were here in France, so I am happy with the progress I made on my own personal growth and learning as an artist of questionable repute, now it is time to wallow in the art of the old Masters for a couple of days to carry those memories home with us.
Joe and Cyd
Roe, S. (2007). The private lives of the Impressionists. London, England: Random House – Vintage.