Friday, September 18, 2009

Paris, Day One

September 18, 2009

At the steps of our Paris apartment, the woman in the broad, colorful straw hat greeted us with news that the plumber locked the top lock, for which she did not have the key, and we would join her for coffee at the restaurant two doors down.

An artist, she is, who helps manage apartments for extra cash. Sweet woman of 59 years whose bottle-black bangs, parted in the middle, are carefully tucked over where some women have crows-feet and held in place by the hat. The colorful shawl over the flowing, untailored dress completed the look of a French country artist, despite the fact that we were in the urban and urbane Marais district, and Barbara Navarro was an American transplant of 32 years, now a dual citizen.

One can't be an (uncommercially successful) artist in America. Here, they get their health care. In the United States, artists cannot not afford it.

With great enthusiasm, she told us about her life. Barbara spends her winters in the Amazon jungles of Venezuela and spends her art energy on creating and burning art to draw attention to the issues of deforestation.

The apartment is quite nice, displaying a creative use of small space. Purchased by a Portland Lawyer just two years ago and then remodeled, everything is new, even though the crystal chandeliers and furnishing carry forward the classically French style. The building was constructed in the 1600s, and during the remodel, they exposed the 400 year old support beams to open up the room. The plumber did not complete his work, and there is a bit of a leak under a drain, and the washing machine is out of order, so I write this paragraph in the Laundry across the street.

In the laundry, a nice colllege professor, fresh from his PhD in Boston, showed us how to use the machines and gave us a couple of visiting suggestions: Notre Dame for music on Sunday, and Normandy as a day trip.

Back to yesterday.

We got our 4-day museum pass and enjoyed the Orsay yesterday, where I completed my trifecta of posing with Vincent in Chicago, Amsterdam and Paris. Forget art history classes, the only way to appreciate art and learn art history is go visit the great museums. The audio guide did not have to tell us that a 19th century artist was influenced by the Dutch Masters, we were just in Holland viewing their work.

We found a busy restaurant in the Marais for a later dinner and slept soundly in a very comfortable bed.

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