Cézanne, Art & Poetry

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.
Paul Cézanne

Fete de Cézanne

While visiting Aix-en-Provence in 2006, I had the good fortune to arrive at the beginning of fête de Cézanne. Paul Cézanne 1839 – 1906, a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter. His work was instrumental in bridging the transition from 19th century Impressionism and 20th century’s line of enquiry, Cubism.

Born in the town of Aix-en-Provence, he had a fondness for painting Mont Sainte-Victoire. He left over 60 paintings of the mountain. His studio remains as he left it. Now owned by the University, it is maintained as if he just stepped out. Even the basket of ripening apples is kept so that there is fruit in each stage and the aroma permeates the room. Over a hundred years since his death and his spirit lingers large. The grounds that surround the studio are a maze of paths dotted with work by students. I must admit to visiting more than once and it remains one of my two favorite places I have visited since first visiting France. While I do appreciate the policy of no cameras inside the studio, I do wish I had photos of it to share. You will just have to visit it yourself!

Upon returning to California from the first visit, I was approached by my friend Carol. Carol, an artist, was putting together a limited edition art book with a grant from the Art’s Council. As we talked, she asked me about art & France. I told her that “art is the loom the tapestry we know as France is woven upon.” She asked if she could quote me. Bien sur! (of course) Then she told me that she would require a poem from me that would speak of art & France. That was what brought about the writing of the poem below.
Dans le jardin de Cézanne
Meditations on Visiting Atelier Cézanne

One hundred years
After his death
The doors to his shrine
Open to the masses
I but a privileged pilgrim
A witness – I inhale deeply
The plethora of scent
Aging fruits
A wicker basket
Darkened by harvests of the past

A long shelf balanced
Across the western wall
Dusquenoy’s cupid keeps company
With the three skulls of death
Enlightenment radiates
From the northern exposure
A burst of light
Color spreads wantonly
I am humbled in each direction

Le choeur fantôme
Intones hymns of praise
Peaches, apples and pears
Whisper of fields they have known
An old apple dreams of freshness
Home is Aix-en-Provence
Sainte-Victorie
He paints their secrets
With celestial vision
And transparency

Since moving to France, I have returned to visit Atelier Cézanne and was just as moved as my first visit. Having spent six weeks exploring France on my first visit and living here for over four years, I continue to be delighted at every turn. However, I must admit that to date, my favorite places are Montmartre and Atelier Cézanne. There is no doubt that I shall return again and again.

Bisous,

Léa

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In Memoriam: George Whitman

“Be Not Inhospitable To Strangers Lest They Be Angels in Disguise” – George Whitman

Today, this blog is dedicated to the man who made this Mecca for writer’s and reader’s  all that it could be. George Whitman, an Angel in Disguise, died on Wednesday at the age of 98 years young.

No doubt, his spirit will linger on in every corner of the shop, between book and page now safely in the hands of his daughter and those entrusted with Shakespeare & Company’s care. The highlight of my first trip to Paris was when they accepted my first poetry chapbook and added it to Poet’s Corner. The receipt is safely tucked in the journal I carried around France.

Recently, on my other blog: foundinfrance.wordpress.com, I focused on Shakespeare & Company. It is a place that holds fond memories and I shall return.

If you have not experienced a visit to Shakespeare & Company, it is an unforgettable experience. When you cross George’s threshold, you enter another world. This is a world of books, writers, readers and a remarkable chapter in Literary History. George and Shakespeare & Company are each legendary in their own right.

Sleep well. Your rest is well earned and know you have made a difference in countless lives. To George’s daughter Sylvia and the many others who are dedicated to continuing George’s legacy, I offer my sincere condolences.

Bisous,

Léa

Bread & marriage

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”     –  Dorothy Parker

BREAD & MARRIAGE

years and years

of baking bread

bread I did not eat

did not want

the emptiness remained

feeding family

feeding others

the staff of life

kneading

always

needing

divorce

can be a beginning

i don’t bake bread

anymore

but the emptiness

has gone

other hungers

emerge

-Bisous,  Léa

Finding voice

Finding voice…

Be tells me to keep writing

Cait tells me to just write

My past tells me I can’t write

Fear writes for me

Anger writes the loudest, and is most prolific

Joy is silent, nearly invisible

Sadness drones on and on

Pain is sharp, isolated, and intense

Journals are scattered about my home

Tossed into the recesses of the car

They harbor numerous attempts of binge/purge

When moving I will devalue their loyalty

As I shove them through the shredder

The ghosts of childhood critique every effort

They silence me with threats to expose my failure

Deep inside the struggle

To break through the barriers

Quakes with revelatory thunder

Bisous,

Léa

Bonjour, bienvenue and caution: enter at your own risk!

“Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.”     – Natalie Goldberg

We embark on the scary journey with each writing effort. For some it is a desire to write, publish, and make money or fame. For others, it is a need to learn about what hides inside us. Most find it combines elements of both and the numerous variables that make us unique yet us in the world of words.

While much of my work in the past came from the angst, I find it is the darkest times where the writing stopped. To write is to sift through the perceptions, wounds and wonders that color and shape our words and our lives. The exquisite sting of creation motivates us onward.

Bisous,

Léa