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A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 4: Impressionism and Terrorism

When I was teenager I bought a poster by an artist named Maurice Utrillo. I had never heard of him, but I was attracted to the style and the scene and the poster hung in my room until I moved out after college. I learned Utrillo was an artist from Paris and I remained a fan until today. As years went by, I learned about the Impressionists and developed a lifelong love for the work of Claude Monet. I visited his beloved home in Giverny fifteen years ago and was enthralled to see where he created the water lily paintings and to discover the story behind his home, his family, and his life. I was most struck by learning about the rowboat he designed replete with a stand for his easel that enabled him to paint from the center of his pond, facing the water, facing his bridge, painting the water he had created, from the water.

On my first and second trips to Paris, nearly fifteen years ago, I tried to visit The Musee de l'Orangerie where his oversized murals were exhibited. Painted towards the end of his life, Monet donated the eight murals to the city of Paris as a haven of peace offering a "refuge for peaceful meditation..." Both of the times I was in Paris, the museum was closed for renovation. Today I got to see the murals.

What makes art great? I was moved as a teenage by the poster by Utrillo. Today, I was moved to tears by the quiet beauty of the murals of Monet's pond and his water lilies. I thought about Giverny and him sitting in the middle of his pond, painting in solitude. Perhaps the sound of birds and his children playing were all he heard. He painted the same scenes again and again; always different in light and movement and yet the same. The willows draping gently, dangling over the water. The colors changing as the hours passed. Morning light, clouds, sunset. Pale blues, dark blues, greens, hints of pink. I sat on a bench and watched people's expressions as they came in. The huge paintings surround you in an oval room flooded with light streaming in from overhead skylights. Their faces, like mine, were awestruck.

Louise Rosenblatt and others have written about art being a transaction between viewer, or reader, or listener and the artist's work. Meaning comes from that experience. Art, books, films, and music have the power to move us beyond word to sheer emotions.

As I sat in this magnificent city built by dreamers and romantics, by lovers of beauty and freedom and ideals, I was struck by the madness going on just outside the city today. A search for terrororists who murdered journalists and police officers is creating havoc, drama, and terror. They murdered people in the name of religion and their intrpretation of their god. For me, God is in the beauty of every day experiences. I don't comprehend people who kill for any reason at any time. They must clearly lack beauty in their lives and therefore, lack the meaning that makes living so worthwhile.

These pictures show flags at half mast, & signs in stores, & graffiti on walls in the city today.
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Posted by teethetrav 08:31 Archived in France Tagged paris de musee monet charlie terrorists l'orangerie je_suis_charlie utrillo Comments (0)

A Month in Paris in Winter

Day 2: Terror and Sales

By now you have heard about the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris yesterday January 7, 2015. I was out and about on my first full day in Paris. You see, Paris has two sales periods per year; one in summer and one starting--you guessed it--January 7. I did not plan my trip around this, but as luck would have it I am here for the sales, les soldes.

I am not an avid shopper, but I have coveted a Louis Vuitton forever and made my way on two metros to the Champs-Elysees to visit Louis. Turns out, Louis never goes on sale. You wouldn't know that from the amount of people in the store and the voluminous number of products flying off the shelves. A bag that I liked was actually out of stock! But one that l loved was right there calling me. It is brand new and has the traditional monogram but a salmon-colored trim and lining, a removable shoulder strap as well as two chic handles. The price? Well, you know what they say: if you have to ask...Since Louis never goes on sale, I will consider this purchase while I am here. The dollar has been growing stronger, so I'll wait it out while I decide.

I walked the Champs along with a massive number of tourists and Parisians searching for bargains. And bargains there are. Everything (except Louis) is 50 to 70% off. Monoprix, H & M, Promod, Zara, everything is on sale and people were out. I window shopped and bought one warm sweater for 12euros (did I mention it's freezing?). I walked towards the Tuileries and watched as workers removed hundreds of wooden structures that had housed the recent Christmas market. At one point, a large parade of police cars went by but no one seemed concerned or like anything out of the ordinary was happening. Eventually, I asked a security guard where the entrance to the Concorde Metro was and he told me. He didn't seem concerned either.

By the time I got back to my apartment at around 3, my mailbox was filled with concerned emails from my family asking if I was alright. I had no idea what they were talking about. I read a link about the attack my son sent me and I turned on the news. Twelve people were dead. Murdered over a cartoon while Paris shopped the sales.

By late afternoon and evening protesters were out in droves wearing "Je suis Charlie" ('I am Charlie) signs. The French refuse to stay in and be afraid. Good for them. Tomorrow I will be out and about. Otherwise, terror wins.

Posted by teethetrav 07:40 Archived in France Tagged paris france charlie terror je_suis_charlie hebdo i_am-charlie Comments (0)

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