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HOME FROM PARIS, RELUCTANTLY…

While I’m still dancing in a fading memories of Paris, En Route is in the Bay Area for several days, will be home for a day & then to Florida to see his mother.

He is here spotted in one of the many stops to refresh ourselves… coffee or bieres or cocktails & to rest our feet after all the happy walking we did. I was fascinated by the complexity of its lighted ceiling.

We also used the Metro to move around the city every day. It is a deliciously functional subway system & is busy at all hours of the day. It was one of the places I indulged in my favorite traveling pass time… people watching… seeing a wildly ranging population from weary working folk from every Continent, through restlessly colorful young balancing people… lovers… shoppers & tourists… business men & buskers, beautiful eyes… lips… holding subtle stories of genes mixing… faces from whom I wanted another smile…

Many Paris Metro stations seem redesigned evolutionarily in styles pertinent to their neighborhoods. This copper-sheathed one noted ones arrival [finally!] at Musee des Arts et Metiers, which we had no time to explore… we were on some other mission.

But the streets of Paris want to be walked, particularly in the Marais, where we were. The streets in this old arrondisment are narrow… fortunately motor vehicles are few.

Simple things become poignant framed inside such long history…

I’m still sorting 600+ images, piles of neglected paper on my desk & then feeling the tug between blog & wax…

TIME!

We had coffee behind this clock in Musee d’Orsay, which has been telling time since this building was originally a grand train station & is now a grand museum containing fabulous collection of early twentieth century art… lots of the Art Nouveau which Paris is so rich in.

But then, the city is so rich in everything. We visited more than a dozen of the city’s hundreds of museums. A pass is available which allows one access to many of them without waiting in line for tickets.

The crypt beneath the parvis in front of the Notre Dame was illuminating about the deep history of the Roman settlement which became Paris. It was called Luticia & these foundations were discovered when the medieval buildings, which had long occupied this space, were removed to give more air around the cathedral.

I was intrigued by the under floor heating system, which ducts are indicated by the red lights in this view.

This archaeology is covered by the grey paving seen from our hike to the top of the cathedral’s bell tower.

I wonder what Monet thought about such history as he painted this one of many giving credence to this famous facade…

Directly in front of the Cathedral’s portal is the Mile Zero marker. the point from which distance to anywhere was France is measured. It signified the beginning of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which Stephen has completed, albeit not on foot along the traditional route. But his feet here recall that beginning…

Inside the walls which look almost castle-like in the shot above, which I like in black & white, Notre Dame’s famous rose windows offered a challenge for my camera…

Details of the old chandelier, displayed in rather decrepit state, suggests potential resurection as a bell…

My favorite of the images I made up above the roof of the Cathedral in the gallery of guardian gargoyles is this peek through a quatrafoil… showing one of the water spouts…

The Gustav Moreau museum, his studio, has a marvelous spiral staircase almost as convoluted as his work, many unfinished canvases of which were hung frame to frame in this enviable workspace.

This detail of one painting is illustrative of his work.

Another spiraling form caught my imagination in the Musee d’Orsay which is an inspiring space mentioned earlier but shown below, yet I add this curious brush also found there both because I have a bit of a brush fetish & because I have no idea what this was used for. My imagination runs a bit wild…

The vast space originally collecting trains now collects artwork from the era when is was first built around the turn of the last century.

The arched space has numerous supporting arches which have been cleverly closed to create galleries & to contain modern ventilation, in a way leaving much to appreciate of the terra cotta ceiling tiles.

There are fabulous collections of Art Nouveau furnishings which sometimes echo such space…

A model of another roof presents a further take on the mechanical aspects of basic geometry.

An allegorical figure along the roof line captured a bit of sunlight on an overcast day. We found weather that week not unlike typical Seattle in this season… light rain, the occasional downpour, & celebratory sun-breaks like this…

While I couldn’t grab this rather baroque nouveau bon bitty mot of a mirror in better focus, I was seduced by its slippery shape… perhaps as preparation toward making a self portrait in a shop window candlestick.

The Musee du Monde Arabe had intrigued me on my first visit to Paris because of the system of light control on its facade. Built like clockwork or a camera oculus, aluminum leaves spiral to close the amount of light entering, not unlike mid-eastern latticework, taken well toward some mechanical extravagance.


Its collection was more interesting than we had time to absorb, yet I saw inspiration for bells in these animal shaped ewers.

The Museee des Arts Decoratifs was an exploration I made first on my own, knowing such to be a more personal interest, but Stephen joined me for a second visit, when we took in the section on publicity & a fascinating exhibit celebrating the color RED. It is housed in a wing of the Louvre, as seen from this view from the Tuilleries gardens.

It had two rooms displaying jewelry, inside which no pictures were allowed, as if one could use the rather disfunctional lighting to grab any image. I was disappointed in not being able to see some pieces at all, nuch less to veiw into their fullness of form or function. But it did BLING!

These pieces were not there but they are of a style which was an early influence. I saw them in the Musee de Cluny

The older Opera Garnier is the one with Chagall’s ceiling paintng, but we were staying near the Opera Bastille which is a modern building.

BASTILE…

Remnants of the ancient prison are to be found in the Place de la Bastille Metro station which delivered us near the Zen Center where we had a studio much like the one we enjoyed on my first visit. Removed into a courtyard we enjoyed delicious quiet with the capability to make morning coffee & to sup simply, as we did several times. This view of the cicle shows the Opera building which replaces the centerpiece of the revoution with a glassy facade.

I have loved this gilded angelic figure atop his column centering this traffic circle as one of my first landmarks from my first visit. The “M” designates the Metro station we used.

We enjoyed the more usual attractions like the Eiffel Tower at night…

& the Arch de Triompe.

LOUVRE…

The Louvre, of course, is worth one’s lifetime, being perhaps the largest trove of art in the world. I’ve only ever spent only two days there… now I can only look forward to the completion of that study.

The old palace is enhanced, in my opinion, by its new pyramid entrance, under which has been dug deep into the ancient courtyard, making a reception area & cafeteria… as well as an entire shopping mall! It provides a connection between the three vast wings, allowing one to trvese what one used to have to walk the entire peremeters of.

This time I saw the Mona Lisa… at a moment with a smaller than predictible number of the consumers of Iconoplasty who have caused this institution to be displayed like a corpse on the slab behind glass as the last defense, knowing there must be cameras recording every visitor’s every move.

Life in peril naturally becomes some surprizingly calm version of herself… That‘s her allure!!!

I found many stimulations toward work I would want to do toward the “Table Slave” series… or for bells…

I am reminded that a hippocampus I saw in the Uffizzi was the original notion which evolved to become the SEAHORSE Bell… It would seem I am entitled to revisit that idea… I do prefer living in a world which offers at least several choices…

I’ve always had a thing for tassels… which were one of my symbolic signatures when I was a young painter.


Align CenterThis gallery in the Louvre contained the crown jewels…

A case full of snuff boxes delayed my seeing them…

Along with these objects I’d seen only drawings of… suggesting mysterious bells…

MUSEE BRANLY

The new Musee du Quai Branly, an ethnographic museum, became an unexpected favorite… we went for three explorations & only began to apprehend how well the concept of the architecture created a rich experience of remove into the earlier parts of our psyche we tend to view as other.

An imposing glass wall running along the sidewalk claims the site from the Seine without hiding the fascinating contemporary building & shields a garden dropping gently beneath the bean-like hulk of the museum rising above. It is planted with lighted lucite rods which project color onto the underside of the building at night. The nearby Eiffel Tower disappears as the walk collects the stream of current humanity, with the request to form a queue for tickets to swim upstream from this symbolic conceptual river, La Rivere is the concept of this museum, not unlike the watery one at our back, flowing through the city,

Fortunately we had purchased passes which allowed us to skip waiting in such lines at most of the city’s museums. Even-so I noted screens showing enticing images of objects from the museum to those who did have to wait.

Up out & around, one last surprising peek of Eiffel’s archetype through neighboring buildings finally introduces the main lobby surrounding a large multi floored glass climate controlled cylinder rising from basement to roof, housing the storage of an immense collection of musical instruments.

Continuing along a undulating walkway with projections of water on the floor brings one ever closer to the mechanique of ducts & wiring hanging from the ever more impending ceiling, which is in fact the floor of this pod which was seen lit by those garden lights.What seemed on our first visit to be a puzzlingly long journey became an intriguing architectural concept transforming modernity into a personal expedition back into the archetypal “native” time of humans living before our industrial age. The path closes in like a dark birth canal at one place before opening into a world of ethnographic study in the main volumes of the display space. The building’s interior begins to inform its exterior in an unusual dialogue.

The walls become more inviting from raw concrete to sculpted forms covered with thick saddle weight cowhide… the invitation to touch is irresistible! This hands-on aspect brings one into various multi media opportunities to interact with & to study forms of everyday art which made the lives of these peoples richly complex in what seem like simpler times. We each still have so much of that primitive heritage in our psyche. The tactile invitation seemed to connect me with my fingers in a tellingly visceral way…

Undulating interior walls formed a central canyon sculpted in this leather covered adobe so that many small carrells were formed with intimate seating for one or two bodies to share video terminals offering interactive menus of archival film, music & information, telling deeper stories to those who chose to explore further the stimulation of objects displayed nearby. These walls were low compared to the immense amorphously open space of the building. Touching that rather raw organic surface grounded one in an interesting ways while it also became an intriguing palette to inform one in non verbal ways.

I thought much about my friend Jane, whose sighted fingers would love finding tactile access to information in that leather embossed with a floor plan of a pueblo, for instance, or a temple complex in Southeastern Asia in low relief above a cast bronze model explaining its roof’s form. Braille plaques would assist her with more formal language, but my finger tips also enjoyed tasting such strongly tactile information. My eyes could appreciate the lovely subtle visuals of that floor plan as well… this museum captivated many sensibilities & felt ever more right to my curiosity.

Rectilinear boxes seen from the street, attached like some space station made of modules onto the generally amorphous pod-like architectural assemblage become carrels in which to study various cultures. Handsomely lighted cases presented the huge collection in smaller studies of carvings in wood or bone or metal, constructions of fabric or feathers, weapons & tools, fashions & exotic ritual objects. The transparency & reflection of so much glass were used to blend invitations to move around through what continued to be an exciting journey presenting so much intimate & very personal history in the conceptual liquidity of La Rivere… this river of primordial time & place now mostly lost to those of us who use clocks to tell time. .

A forest of larger totemic carvings commanded some of the lofty space, sharing it with several mezzanines floating like Aztec cubist clouds, continuing the sculpted visuals suggesting more of the hand-made than our habitual geometries. These were further galleries & a multimedia space where one could access yet more of the archival music recordings & film. There seems a lifetime of study available in this museum, which continued to blossom for me. I want to return again… & again… turning three times.

WEATHER