Honorable Mention Award

It feels good when your work stands out and catches the eye of a juror. In this case, my porcelain sculpture The Unbearable Heaviness of Being (I ) received an Honorable Mention at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts where it was exhibited in a show entitled For and About Women. The juror was Traci Horne, art history professor at VCU.

I made this sculpture several years ago, and it has been exhibited at various venues. I am constantly reviewing calls for artists to see where past works may have a chance to be exhibited, often years after their creation. This particular work was part of a series examining the high price women pay as ‘collateral damage’ during wartime.

Interestingly, I have just recently begun sculpting a new series of small porcelain figures , but with a different emphasis. I want to create almost androgenous  miniature figures which project those BIG human emotions like inner turmoil, fear or introspection. 

Down Under

Yes, they really are this cute!

Forget culture shock. How about temperature shock? Straight from a freezing cold Paris to the heat of Melbourne’s waning summer. A brief stay in Australia to participate in two family weddings did not leave much time for art. However, I did get to see (not once, but twice) the brilliant Ron Mueck exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in the heart of Melbourne. Mueck plays with our minds and our senses by pairing realism with exaggerated scale in his hyperrealist sculptures. A lot to see and a lot to think about.

Woman in Bed sculpture
Ruth and I in 30 years. Hard to distinguish which are the sculptures!

All good things come to an end…

My time in Paris is up. But the work I did, the friends I made, the culture I inhaled, the memories and the experiences I lived,  will all come away with me. What was clear to me on the eve of my departure was that Paris still feels like a home away from home and I intend to come home again soon.

I am very pleased to be able to share an article published in Bonjour Paris in which I write about the artistic project I was working on in Paris. Over the coming months I plan to expand this work  though at this early stage I am not sure exactly what direction this will take. Time will tell.

Detail of my painting

…and the good times just keep on rolling!

This is certainly one trip I will never forget. It has given me so much culturally, creatively, intellectually and socially. My days and nights are full of exciting events, great food, intense conversations and hard work. Here are just a few of the recent highlights. The Elles exhibition at the Centre Pompidou is mind blowing. A wonderfully curated exhibition from the Pompidou center’s collection following the path of modern and contemporary women artists, and very relevant to the work I am doing here in Paris on female sexuality. Many of the works were very risque and explicit and it was quite incongruous to see a group of nuns there. Followed them around a bit to get some shots.

Waiting in line at the Pompidou center it finally dawned on me what THE French accessory is. Scarves. Big, huge, wrap-around-your-head scarves, like the gorgeous young woman below. The bigger the better. And of course you must wear it as though you are not almost choking to death in its tentacles!                                                                                                             

Yesterday even though it was below zero, I headed off with a friend to Auvers sur l’Oise to make a pilgrimage to Van Gogh’s house and his final resting place. It was a wonderful experience to walk in his footsteps and see where he set up his easel for some of his most famous works. The cemetery where he is buried is delightfully understated, making it feel so much more authentic.

Sign leading to the cemetery

Typical village house Van Gogh loved to paint
Caught in a sudden snow storm
I have also been printing my etchings whenever I get the chance to use Yael Braverman’s press. I have now completed four copper etchings and really love the process and the results!
Me at the etching press
Additionally I have been invited to Israeli folk dancing classes, salsa discos, champagne lunches, studio visits, avoided stepping in French doggie doo, have gotten used to the slight whiff of sewage in many old Parisian buildings, seen the most incredible collection of Islamic art in the world, and have survived waking up in the middle of the night with a mouse on my pillow, but that’s another story… All this is over and above the daily work I am pursuing at the Musee d’Orsay, which I hope will lead to a very interesting project.
Now to leave you with a good taste in your mouth, so-to-speak, this is the dessert platter I had recently at a very ordinary bistro. It is called cafe gourmand, which has a little bit of everything. Bon appetit!

 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Being in Paris seems to be sending out good vibes for my work back home. Here are the highlights regarding exhibitions and art-related news.

1. An announcement that the Fuller Museum exhibition The Perfect Fit will be travelling around the US visiting various museums over the next 24 months. Among the works will be my installation If the Shoe Fits.

2. Shocham Gallery in Tel Aviv is including my work in their February exhibition on Balance/Imbalance featuring artist mobiles. They are featuring a small number of my floating porcelain pages from the Living Without Them exhibition at the American University Museum in 2008. Last month they included my video from the same installation for a group exhibition called Eco-Book.

3. Two of my works will  be exhibited at a very interesting show in Washington DC called Art of the Soul. My video entitled If The Shoe Fits…Buy It and an installation called Basic Needs.

4. My painting of a couple of DC detectives Double Trouble was admitted into the prestigious national portrait show opening in February in Punta Gorda Florida. The judge is Peter Trippi.

5. My porcelain sculpture The Unbearable Heaviness of Being I has been selected for inclusion in the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts in a show entitled For and About Women.

I’m exhausted just listing all this, and the coordination from this part of the world has required a group effort. Thank you.

What planet am I on?

This last Sunday was extraordinary in terms of experiences that would be hard to find or recreate outside of Paris. Beginning with a breakfast straight from my childhood – fresh buttered baguette dipped into a huge bowl of cafe au lait. (I will get back to the calorie counting and limited cholesterol diet when I get back!) Next on the agenda was a serious attack on my meagre choice of clothes (after all, I only brought five pairs of boots with me!) to find an outfit that would not embarass me at the very exclusive, invitation-only, unveiling of next season’s Dior menswear collection. I was quite happy with what I came up with…. 

Being at the Dior fashion show was a real trip. The hype and buzz were palpable. Hundreds of people gathered to see what the House of Dior would come out with which will influence global fashion trends and trickle down to the ‘masses’  in watered-down versions. There were scores of photographers, TV crews, gay designers, models, fashion buyers, and even some real live famous people like Karl Largerfeld and Kanye West! The chief createur had designed the runway with a sort of horse dressage feel with the audience sitting in raised seats around the runway circle. Music blaring, the thin, rather sick-looking male models with hairstyles that needed serious hair product to produce, came striding out in some of the most gorgeous clothes I have ever seen men wear. I must admit I was sceptical about just how innovative one can be with men’s suits,  jackets, coats and pants. But it was thrilling and required real talent and vision to produce the whole collection.      

While in Paris I was very determined to also do some watercolors but did not want to do the usual gorgeous Paris scenes which have been done to death. I had the idea at the fashion show to do a small series on the people watching the show, rather than the models. Here is one example so far.

 In the evening I was invited to an art opening at a private apartment in Montmatre. It was quite an evening, the hostess being Grace Tashima who regularly opens her gorgeous Parisian apartment to all manner of artists, wannabe artists, writers,  mathematics professors, art critics, photographers, and moi!  There was a very interesting photographer/dancer couple, David and Marie. Marie kept insisting that David photograph the two of us as bookends with various guests sandwiched in between. Here we are with Grace sandwiched in the middle on her famous red couch.

The evening ended up with a date to rendez-vous with Grace, an invitation to a private soiree where an opera singer will sing several cantatas and a very interesting conversation with the featured artist Christian Gorget about the cathartic nature of creating art. So yes, as my son Anton asked me, What Planet Am I On?

How much can one person cram into two weeks? Plenty.

Impossible to sum up the incredibly rich, stimulating, creative and exciting time I have been having so far in Paris. So lets just take the last 24 hours as an example. But first just a few photos to set the stage….

OK. So now you get the picture  – no pun intended! Yesterday morning I turned up for ‘work’ at the Musee d’Orsay from 9:30 to 1:00 (I am going to be posting a separate blog detailing a very interesting art project I will be working on during the remainder of my stay. Essentially I have been authorized to be an official copiste at the Musee d’Orsay, hopefully capturing on video some of my painting as a type of performance piece). Following an intense painting session at the museum,a delicious lunch and coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but the coffee here sure beats Starbucks! Then off to make my first ever prints from the copper engravings I have been working on. Just love the results and the impression the copper plate makes in the paper.

After a quick dinner of goat cheese, baguette, and  radishes I popped over to another artist’s studio to meet her artist’s group for some champagne and dessert. Painters, photographers, sculptors, print-makers.  Back to my own freezing loft to finish off a quick study of a striking looking woman who works at the museum and matches her outfits to her red and black striped hair.

Today I met some friends at the Grand Palais to see one of the most spectacular installations I have ever seen by Christian Boltonski. More coffee and then rush off to attend an opening of an exhibition by artist Gilles Hirzel at the Assemblee Nationale. Very chi-chi – had to be on the ‘list’ to get in. Very powerful works on canvas made from found materials. Don’t sit back yet. As evening settled in I was invited to yet another opening in the very chic Faubourg Saint-Honore. Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana and Dior stores rubbing shoulders with exclusive book stores and galleries and restaurants…Then a taste of Paris commuter traffic as I got a hair-raising ride back home. This weekend, I have an invitation to the unveiling of the next season’s Dior Menswear collection, another gallery opening and a dinner party. So sorry you can’t all join me! And oh yes, I did have to get a beret, didn’t I?

Reporting in from (a very cold) Paris!

Four days into my six week stay in Paris and all I can say is mon dieu! I am extremely fortunate to be staying in an artist loft in Ivry sur Seine thanks to the generosity of artist/healer/psychotherpist Magdalena Groszek. My first impression of the huge warehouse/converted loft was WOW! Every corner reveals a beautiful tableau of objets d’art and effortless scenes that say “Yes, you are in France!”

Despite the bitter cold, there is something to be said for the greyness that seems to envelop Paris like a second skin during the winter. However, having said that, this is the coldest winter spell in about fifty years, and it is hard to heat up a warehouse. Thank God I brought my fur hat and coat….

One of the most exciting and rewarding things that I have experienced here is the open exchange of ideas amongst the artists and musicians I have met so far. I have been invited to about five artist studios, two of whom live in the communal complex I live in. Check out Francoise Toulouse and Yael Braverman. The three of us are going to an opening I was invited to which will exhibit Argentinian artists working in Paris. Tomorrow I am off to the Musee Rodin (one of the cornerstones of work I wish to pursue on Feminine Sexuality and Aging), and Thursday I will be off to the Musee d’Orsay to hopefully see Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde. I can’t wait to visit the innumerable contemporary galleries but I need to be extremely picky in order to protect the timeI have to actually create.  So far I have filmed two very interesting video interviews on my Flip camera, completed two small paintings (just to get the juices flowing), and decided this morning that I will try to keep a sketch journal of the wonderful people I am meeting and drew my first subject this afternoon. (Photos of works in progress to come in the next blog entry I hope).

Despite the fact that my French is not too shabby, it is still a stretch trying to keep up with the conversations that flow around the wine and cheese on subjects as diverse as existentialism, art, love, life, and what is truly important in life….! But every day comes with major and minor lessons in cultural differences. For example, being discretely told by a friend that requesting milk in one’s cafe is a big no-no after breakfast hours. Espresso is de rigueur! Going to the supermarket today I was also surprised and delighted by the lack of calorie content listings on the delectible patisseries! Finally one more lesson anyone visiting Paris should know – when biting into a delicious galette pastry, beware of the hidden feve (a small plastic figurine about an inch tall) hidden inside the galette. Apparently it is good luck to be the one to bite into the slice which contains this hard inedible object hidden inside. I am certainly lucky because I did not break a tooth when I unknowingly bit into my tiny alien creature! A bientot mes amis!!

When art and philosophy meet…

Following two pretty intense years of back-to-back exhibitions, it is both exhilarating and scary to have unlimited time to simply create. I have folders full of ideas, so many in fact that my life will run out far sooner than the ideas will! I have been working on some small-scale ceramic sculptures but the painting studio has really been calling to me. So I decided to take up a very small canvas (always a good way to break the ice) and I began painting a beautiful skyscape of majestic, glorious clouds backlit by the sun. I could not get away from the thought that such scenes have always inspired Man to seek spiritual answers to explain the meaning of our world and our purpose in it. Yet as I read the daily news barrage of violence and death I am often so distraught that I lose all faith in mankind and the very notion of the existence of a “higher power” and that is how the diptych Vacancy came about…

Vacancy

Gas station paintings hit the road!

Umbilicus Americanus I and II  were created  following a return visit to the United States in 2002 (I had been living in Israel for many years). We stopped at a gas station in Pennsylvania and the mundane scene seemed suddenly quite foreign to me after years of Middle Eastern landscape. I was struck by the size of the people, the size of the cars, the sheer size of the gas stations, the largesse of the land and the general feeling of entitlement which its citizens possessed. The scene revealed much about excess, consumerism, the growth of surburbia, supermalls, the infamous American love affair with the automobile and our dependence on foreign oil to keep all this going.

Umbilicus Americanus I

Umbilicus Americanus II

The paintings have been exhibited numerous times in the US and were recently featured on the homepage of  Board of Investment Art . But now, the paintings have found their final home – in the University of Maryland University College’s private art collection. I believe that the paintings belong in an educational institution and I look forward to their inclusion in the upcoming UMUC exhibition of recently acquired works at the new Largo building in December.