Saturday, January 28, 2012

Round and Round

It's not entirely clear why we spent much of the afternoon circling Paris on the metro.  Seriously. We went from Villiers to Victor Hugo on the 2 for brunch. Then Boissiere to Place d'Italie on the 6, then walked a bit, then got back on the 6 at Quai de la Gare and took it to the very end at Nation.  There, we got on the 2 line and went about 27 stops home to Villiers.  This is basically what we did:

I'm a genius at Microsoft Paint.
We started our day with a great brunch chez Mr and Mrs Magnum.  When we left to head home, it actually wasn't raining so we decided to do some exploring.  We headed to the 13th arrondissement, primarily because we had just read an article about how there was all this great stuff going on for the Chinese New Year, and the 13th is basically the Chinatown of Paris.  Except its not clear where, when, or what all the "great stuff" was because the Chinese New Year celebration we saw consisted of about five stands of Chinese snack food outside the mairie.  Apparently tomorrow there's a big parade (of course!).

Resolved not to let our extremely long metro ride go to waste, we switched plans and headed to the Marche d'Art Contemporain being held this weekend.  As we walked down a largely empty street to what looked like a row of warehouses, and then walked down a largely empty road by all the warehouses, I was really glad it was the middle of the afternoon and not after dark.  Thankfully, our adventuring paid off with a really wonderful selection of artists showcasing their works, primarily paintings with a bit of scultupre and some random jewelry thrown in.

The artists seemed all to be French, though not all of them are Paris-based.  We had a great time walking up and down the aisles with Baby Oil, who is a crowd pleaser even in a crowd of artists.  Of course, Baby Oil seemed more enamored with the transparent plastic chair at one of the stands than any of the art.  But everyone seemed impressed that we were starting him early on art appreciation.

In the back of our heads, we have this idea about buying a piece of art before we leave Paris and as I've mentioned before, we seem to have a hard time liking the same art.  Today was another breakthrough, however, as there were several artists that we both very much liked.  Anne Christine Wellenstein was one, a woman in her late 30s who does many lovely paintings of urban scenes in Paris and other places like Barcelona.  She was even nice enough to let me try out some of my terrible French on her AND she told me I spoke French very well.  I really do appreciate it when people lie about this, it makes me feel good even though I know they're full of it.
One of our favorites. Le Balcon. Credit: Anne Christine Wellenstein, image taken from her website.

Another one we loved: Bir Ha-Keim. Credit: Anne Christine Wellenstein, image taken from her website.

Jeepy was another great character.  At least, we are assuming his name is Jeepy since his card says Jeepy and his website says Jeepy, though we don't understand what kind of name Jeepy is. But we loved him because he spent at least 10 minutes talking to us about his art, and how he feels about the different ways that light plays a role in his paintings. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what he was saying.  Even though I asked him a few questions in what is obviously beginner-level French, he seemed to oblivious to whether we were comprehending his commentary.  Our constant nodding and stating, "Quelle interesante!" probably didn't help our cause.
Grand Matin. Credit: Jeepy, image taken from his website.

One of the artist's favorite works of his own. Intensite. Credit: Jeepy, image taken from his website.

It was fun to chat with artists, and to see art that we really liked.  Of course it turns out most of the stuff we liked was still well out of our price range!  But who knows, maybe by the time we are ready to buy art we will either a) have achieved our goal of independent wealth, or b) still be pretending like we have all the money in the world to do whatever we want to while living in Europe.
Jamil Amhis, name not listed, image taken from his website.

Lionel Borla, Rhythme Acoustique. Image taken from his website.

In any event, after leaving the art show, we thought it would be fun and/or funny to take the 6 line to the end and then switch to the 2. In part this is because we were unsure of the fastest way home. I think we also believed that this would somehow be an enlightening experience.  And while I love the glimpses of various neighborhoods when the metro briefly rises above ground for a few stops here and there, for the most part underground metro stops all look the same.  We tried, really we did, to come up with pithy observations that would merit the extremely long metro ride.  The best we came up with was, "Well, it's something to do when it rains?"

It's not fair to consider this afternoon an exploration of the 13th arrondissement, but it was good to know that there can be really great art at the end of a long train ride. And also that Baby Oil seems to love riding on the metro.  I have a feeling that could come in handy one day...