Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recognizing an old friend in Bordeaux . . .

We've just got back from a quick and fabulous trip to San Sebastian, Spain, but while I'm putting together a post or two about that -- pintxos! shopping! beach! -- let me tell you about a friend I was thrilled to recognize in the park just around the corner.  . .

This green space, on a hot day last spring, was part of what made Bordeaux so inviting to us, with its mix of great buildings to sketch, lawns to sprawl on, a children's playground, a running/walking circuit of that very typically French gravel, a "lake," stream, and waterfall. It's always full (at least until the gates are locked in the late evening, and we then have to walk the long way 'round rather than take our pleasant shortcut), and we love watching the families picnicking, the teens sitting in circles on the grass, occasionally one of them playing a guitar, sometimes a group have set up a low tightrope between the trees and we stop to watch their athletics.

And this is a space we indulge our athletics as well. Which is what I was doing the other morning, running with Paul when, on our 3rd circuit 'round, I had a twinge of recognition at the style of this statue.
 I thought I recognised the sculptor's style, but when we looped around again, I saw that the interpretive plaque below had been eroded beyond legibility.
 But I made note of the name of the person represented by the statue, and when we got home,
 I googled "François Mauriac statue in Bordeaux Jardin Public"
and found that the sculptor is, as I'd guessed, Ossip Zadkine
 whose studio we discovered serendipitously in Paris a few years ago
As with an Odilon Redon painting whose style I recognized immediately a few weeks ago in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, I was delighted to realize my experience looking at art has formed a (very modest) base. Visit by visit, I've shaped a lens that informs the way I now approach new-to-me art, and occasionally, as last week, I'm rewarded by recognizing an old friend. The other reward is the way such a viewing pulls together into the present moment all those other moments standing in other places looking. That cloistered garden in Paris, the old-wood-vanilla and slightly damp mineral-stone smell of Zadkine's house, the way his studio filtered light, the eclectic and thrilling clutter of his tools, sculptures, sketches in that studio, the sound of other visitors' footsteps on the stairs -- all that comes back to me, a mélange of sensory impressions now mixing with the sound of my Mizuno runners crunching over the gravel, the freshness of the spring air on my sweaty cheeks. . .

But yes, we did go home and change before the photos were taken -- you'll note that this long Gap tank dress is getting a lot of play . . . and I've been tying my Hermes scarf to my black bag to lighten it up a bit. . . Those of you who are skeptical about Birkenstocks, I have to say they are quite common here, and I know I'll see many in Paris as well. I can't imagine ever coming here without them in May as they are really the only sandal I can walk and walk and walk in . . .
Finally, since you were all so kind about my sketch last post, I'll show you another. This statue of lithographer Carle Vernet can also be found in the Jardin Public (you can read -- in French, sorry -- about all its statues at this very informative site, I'll admit I felt quite pleased about how he turned out.
But if you really want to see a French park statue beautifully rendered in a watercolour journal illustration, check out my artist friend and teacher's travel blog -- she's beginning a French adventure of her own and chatting about it here. Meanwhile, we're off for another French lesson this morning, and I have some homework to do first.  Perhaps while I'm gone you'll leave me a comment -- I'm curious to know what you've been learning lately, and wondering whether you can think of moments when you realize that what you've learned in the past has started to "gell" so that you've got new eyes for seeing, or new skills for doing . . . eyes, skills, whatever, that crept up on you gradually to surprise you with their usefulness. . .

13 comments:

  1. What fascinated me about your moment of recognition was how all of the prior moments were gelled in that one moment. It is as though you were holding many moments in memory at once! I do not yet have this sort of history with any artist, but you make it sound worth pursuing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Terri -- I could almost feel the moments telescoping inwards . . . back to me . . .

      Delete
  2. That is really cool that you accidentally discovered those pieces and that you were able to recognize the style of the artist. I love it when the stars align like that!

    Re: Birkenstocks. They aren't really as omnipresent in Spain, so I wouldn't have packed mine even if they hadn't bit the dust finally last summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might be fooling myself about Birks here in France, but one does see them regularly although it's still early for sandals in general. I would have liked to grab a pair of espadrilles when in San Sebastian, but we only had an hour or two for shopping.

      Delete
  3. Hi Mater - I had a huge such moment many years ago. I had been learning German since the age of 14 and had 2 years of university under my belt, but didn't really feel like I could speak the language - read and understand, yes, but I was never comfortable with conversation. At the age of 20 I went to Germany for my year abroad. My teacher mentor met me at the railway station and, as we drove along the city streets, I suddenly realised that I was speaking fluently in German! I would hope that I've learned many things since then, but that has really stuck with me.
    I love the look of the Gizeh Birkenstocks, but sadly I can't tolerate the toe post - shame, because I think they're the only ones with a bit of flair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! your German-speaking moment is exactly what I mean -- it must have been so exciting!
      The Gizehs are my favourite style too -- I sometimes jam my foot into the toe post, and feel as if I'm going to dissect my foot (!), but other styles look much clunkier.

      Delete
  4. Haven't even read this yet but I have to say that San Sebastien, a place I'd never thought twice about, has been visited and discussed by no less than 5 people I know in the last 2 weeks. My parents just came back from a 2 week stint there and loved it. And I adore pintxo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should go! You would love this place, truly! We're going back, next year if we can manage it. . . I'll post more on it later.

      Delete
  5. Again, your paintings are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'd have to think about this for a bit. I love those moments when something from the past gels with the present, when layers of learning form a cohesive whole. I know it's happened to me, but I can't think of an example just now.

    I'm loving these posts from Europe - they are the very next best thing to being there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given your study of languages as well as your mastery of arts and crafts, I'm sure there are many examples.
      Glad you're enjoying the Europe posts. I really have fun writing them -- just wish there were many more hours in a day.

      Delete
  7. I enjoyed your story of recognition but more importantly, that watercolor is wonderful!

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...