March 30, 2006

Cesaria Evora

In yet another example of how "chance" encounters can have a lasting influence, I'll tell you the story of how I discovered the wonderful music of Cesaria Evora.

In November of 2001 we made a business trip to Paris - the first trip since 9/11 and we were pretty shaky. The flight was fine, but the crush of people waiting to clear immigration at Charles de Gaulle Airport was terrible. Many international flights had arrived at the same time, and the immigration facility was overwhelmed. So we waited with the crowd of people and slowly made our way forward. Ahead of us in line was a group of about 10 musicians, carrying their instruments and Cuban passports. They didn't speak much English but as we were all in line together we started talking and I asked them where they were coming from and where they were going. It turned out that they had just flown in from Toronto, Canada, and were going to record an album in Paris. They were the back-up band for Cesaria Evora, whom I had never heard of before, but they showed me her picture and the announcement for a new recording. I later asked some French friends if they knew her music and everyone knew and loved her.

We returned to the States and bought one of her albums, "L'Essentiel". It was fabulous. She is a native of Cape Verde, off the coast of Africa, and sings in a lovely Brazilian-inspired style, like a Portugese version of Buena Vista Social Club. I bought 2 more albums "Café Atlantico" and "São Vicente" and love to listen to them with a glass of wine in front of a fire in the evening.

Last night we went to a concert she gave at the old Beacon Theatre on Broadway. It was her only New York appearance and I was thrilled to get tickets. The audience members were middle aged professionals who worshiped Evora like cult followers. Very un-assuming, Cesaria Evora followed her band onto the stage in bare feet and smoking a cigarette. Without any words of introduction, she started singing and the crowd went wild. She is an older woman, but with a beautiful, rich voice, despite the smoking! Backed up by a superb 9 piece band, Cesaria Evora sang her classics and a few new songs, in French and Portugese, for 90 minutes, with one little on-stage cigarette break during which we were entertained by her sensational sax player. As an encore, she sang the classic "Besame Mucho" and many of us sang along. By the end of the evening the audience was on its feet dancing and everyone went home on Cloud 9.

You can check out her story and her music on at Enjoy!

March 28, 2006

Home Again

We're back in New York after a wonderful time in Old Europa. Thinking back over the past 2 1/2 weeks, it seems like both a short time and a very long time! Maastricht seems like ages ago, but sitting here in bed drinking coffee and looking out the window at the still leafless tree, it seems like we've never been away.

Actually, we left Paris in the nick of time as they are expecting massive demonstrations and a general strike today, Tuesday, as further protest to the CPE (student employment contract). The students have now been joined by the "Voyou" (thugs) and the "Casseurs" (looters, literally "breakers"), who have turned these demonstrations into violent gatherings where people are really getting hurt.

Now the season is getting underway here with more art fairs, the Book Fair, museum shows and lots more to report on. Saw some daffodils from the taxi last night and that's a sure sign that Spring is in the air! Bye for now!

March 26, 2006

Guten Morgen Frankfurt!

A short report from Frankfurt where it is raining, but mild. Arrived yesterday and were able to see an exhibition of the Watercolors and Pastels of Max Beckmann at the Schirn Kunsthalle in the historic part of the city. Max Beckmann is not my favorite artist, but his works on paper are more appealing than his heavy paintings. Such cheery titles as "The Morgue", 1922, "The Murder", 1933, and, "Hell and Limbo", 1949, describe the dark and sinister aspects of his work. There were a few lighter subjects, such as a view of a couple seated together drinking champagne at a Berlin cabaret in the 1920's, and an impressive self-portrait. Max Beckmann was a major figure in post-German Expressionism, and oddly enough, dropped dead of a heart attack on Central Park West around 64th Street in the 1940's!

Last night, we were invited to dinner at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Ewald Rathke, a gallerist and art dealer of the old school. Very proper, very knowledgable and very fine material. The kind of art dealer who would help his clients to form solid, intelligent collections, and not just sell them what's fashionable at the moment. Frau Rathke is a fantastic chef and once again we were treated to a wonderful evening of gourmet delights and wonderful conversation. We returned to the hotel after 2 AM and with the arrival of European Daylight Savings Time this morning, are pushing to get to the train station then to the airport. Back to Paris, another, final, art fair, then the big pack up and flight home tomorrow afternoon.

It's been a great trip and made even more fun with the added dimension of sharing our adventures with you! Back soon!

March 24, 2006

Au Revoir Paris

This was one of the very few breaks of sunshine in an otherwise dark and rainy day. Thought the clouds over Notre Dame were dramatic.

We are leaving Paris tomorrow to see some colleagues in Germany, so this will probably be my last Parisian update. We are sitting at our favorite location, the Cafe Mondrian, blogging to the beat of American 1960's pop music and enjoying a final kir, before meeting friends for dinner. It has been a wonderful stay, despite the lousy weather and the constant student demonstrations.

You may have read that yesterday was a particularly bad day here in Paris with outside agitators coming in to really stir up some violent protests. Fortunately, yesterday's activity was centered near Les Invalides, in the 7th Arrondissement, and we did not have much action here, but we did have another HUGE police presence.

Today we visited the Louvre to see a wonderful retrospective "Ingres". It was a 45 minute wait to get in, but really spectacular. I am not a huge Ingres fan, but some of his work is really impressive. For instance, his portraits of Napoleon I's Coronation are amazing, and his "Odalique" series of female nudes in the bath or reclining are very sensual and beautiful. The Frick Collection lent it's famous portrait of the lady in the blue dress, and she had pride of place in a room full of outstanding female portraits.

I am sorry to be leaving Paris after such a nice time, but happy to come home and looking forward to the next time.

Next stop... Frankfurt!

March 23, 2006

Exhibition Reviews

It's hard to believe, but the sun was actually shining here this morning - but not to worry, by lunch it was cold and cloudy again! I took the opportunity to take this shot out our living room window. The church spire in the center is Sainte Chapelle, Louis XIV's personal chapel. On the far right you can see the crazy roofline of the Centre Pompidou, where the Dada Exhibition opened last October.

Despite the cold and rain the past couple of days, we did get out and visited some fantastic museum shows. Yesterday we saw an exhibition of works on paper by the Belgian Surrealist René Magritte at the Musée Maillol. It was a very well chosen selection of drawings and paintings, all on paper, and covered some of his most famous themes - the man in the bowler hat, the pipe (This is Not a Pipe), and some lesser known works. I know some of you think that Magritte is now a cliché, but it was beautiful show of some really fine work.

Then we went over to the museum at the Grand Palais and saw the recently opened show of works by Henri Rousseau "Jungle Images". Here was someone who spent his entire life within the Paris city limits, basically no education and no art training, who turned his hobby into what is now considered some of the finest naïve work of the 20th Century and was a huge influence on Picasso and Apollinaire. The critics referred to him as "The Customs Official" as that was his vocation, but he used his visits to the Botanical Gardens and the Zoo to imagine exotic worlds with wild animals and jungle plants. It was a great exhibition - including "The Dream" on loan from MoMA, NYC - and left one in total awe of this man who so believed in his dream of being an artist that he entered his works in the "Salon des Independents" to regular derision , each and every year. Now of course, his work is priceless and hangs in the greatest museums and collections in the world.

Finally, today we went to the newly re-opened "Musée d'Art Moderne, de Paris" to see Bonnard "The work of art, suspending time..." the first restrospective of his work in France in 22 years. The show offered 90 paintings and numerous documents, prints, photographs and even a set of his agendas from 1926-1947 with drawings on each page. Truly beautiful works in fabulous colors. I think there is very little more beautiful than a Bonnard bathtub painting, and it's easy to see how he influenced the Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko.

That's the art review for now! Riots are quiet, but 31 armored cars just passed by the Cafe Mondrian so maybe we're in for some more excitement!

Bon soir and see you soon!

March 22, 2006

Salon du Dessin/The Drawings Fair

Last night was the Professional Preview for the 2006 Salon du Dessin, the premier venue for original drawings from Old Master through Modern. For the third year it was held at the fabulous Palais de la Bourse, the former Paris Stock Exchange that is now beautifully restored as a meeting and exhibition space.

The opening was very well attended and the quality of the drawings offered for sale was outstanding. Especially beautiful was a watercolor depicting the paintings gallery of Emperess Josephine at her private home Malmaison, done by Berthault, also a black chalk sketch by Claude Monet of his wife, Camille, done in 1865. 20th Century works of interest included a set of 6 gouaches of playing cards done in 1908 by Carl Otto Czeschka in the Wiener Werkstätte style, and a pencil drawing portrait of Jean Cocteau by Moïse Kisling, done in 1916. For me, the most terrific item were 2 groups of watercolors done by P. Holland. 4 watercolors documented a partial lunar eclipse that took place on August 3, 1887, and 5 more recorded a total lunar eclipse on January 28, 1888. The set of 9 was priced at 45,000 Euro at the stand of Day and Faber, London.

It is raining and still cold here in Paris. The demonstrations have cooled off a bit, but a general strike is expected next week if there is no advancement with the contract talks. Will try to catch a few exhibitions today, and will be blogging again with more art adventures very soon!

March 20, 2006

Monday in Paris

This photo was taken directly in front of our apartment building on the Boulevard St. Germain on Saturday afternoon. The "CRS" or French Riot Police were gathering and preparing for the evening's student demonstrations. By 6 o'clock the street was packed with police armored vehicles and hundreds of officers in full gear with tear gas and masks. We had laid in provisions for dinner, in case we couldn't leave, but things were still pretty calm at 7:30 so we ventured out and enjoyed a nice dinner at Le Petit Pontoise in the 5th Arrondissement. By the time we got back to our house, around 11, the demonstrators were literally coming down the Blvd. St. Michel, just 200 yards from the house, so we ran to get in before the street was blocked and we would be caught up in an angry crowd. We were safe and fine in our apartment, but we could hear the shouting and the sirens for a long time.

By Sunday morning, all was quiet and appears to be over for now. Guess the students finally have to get back to their books and get ready for exams. Now it's back in the government's court to decide what to do about this student employment contract that has stirred up so much trouble. Frankly, as an American, it is hard to understand how a new graduate can expect (or even want) a life-long contract with their first job.

Yesterday was a beautiful, almost Spring-like day and we walked all the way to the Grand Palais to re-visit Art Paris and see how the fair was going. Pretty well by all accounts, especially the contemporary art dealers seemed happy. Then we went to the Musée Jacquemart André to see a special exhibition of old master drawings done around the time of Goethe, as well as the permanent collection of Caneletto and Boucher paintings in the magnificent mansion setting.

Today is is cool and rainy and we are heading off to see an artist friend in the suburb of Garches. She is a lovely lady and she has a wonderful cook who makes a chocolate soufflé that is just divine!

Back soon!

March 17, 2006

Café Mondrian

Hello from my new office away from home! The Café Mondrian is on the Boulevard St. Germain near Rue de Seine and they offer free wireless connections so I can use my own computer while I enjoy a kir and watch the people go bustling by.

Today was very exciting with the student riots, but the big day is supposed to be tomorrow when busloads of protesters and riots are expected to arrive from the Provinces. A little excitement last night after dinner when the riot police had totally blocked our street and forbade us admittance. It took 3 tries, at 3 different locations to finally gain access to our block and our temporary home! Hopefully we will be able to go back without incident tonight, but Saturday is anybody's guess.

It is still cold but sunny here. Found some great prints and can't wait to share them on the website ( when we get home.

Now we are heading off to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Moissonier. Husband and wife team offers some great Lyonnaise cuisine.

A bientôt!

March 16, 2006

Paris Update

It's still cold here in Paris, but I think we have finally conquered the WiFi Challenge and am sitting at the Café Mondrian on the Boulevard St. Germain having a kir and posting a Blog!

Above is a photo taken this morning from my kitchen window on the 7th Floor. What a fabulous view! You should see it at night with the full moon! In case you've seen or read about the student riots here in Paris, they are taking place at the Sorbonne, right outside our front door - literally. When we came here tonight we passed busloads of riot police in full gear. Imagine, the students are protesting that they will no longer receive lifetime contracts with their first jobs.

Did some great shopping today and found some fabulous prints that I will put on the website as soon as we're back. Some nice surprises for me and for you too!

Lots of great exhibitions here - going to the Bonnard Show over the weekend, also Rousseau, Bellmer, and Los Angeles 1965-1985 at the Centre Pompidou.

Keep the Faith - I'll be back!

P.S. As we sit here, at least 25 small armored police vans, no exageration are passing by the café en route to the Sorbonne. Guess things are heating up!

Art Paris 06

Bonjour! It is a beautiful sunny day here in Paris, but still no signs of Spring and too cold to sit outside at a cafe.

Yesterday afternoon was the Professional Preview of "Art Paris 2006". While this is not a new art fair, it is the first exhibition to be held in the newly renovated Grand Palais - an enormous glass pavilion on the Champs Elysée which has been closed for repair for the past 10 years. What a beautiful site for an art fair - a Turn of the Century masterpiece of glass and wrought iron! From now until Monday it will be home to 108 galleries from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and New York. The artwork exhibited ranges from Modern Masters to Contemporary and features special niches for large-scale sculptures along the perimeter of the building as well as the exhibitor booths. An excellent show and an appropriate venue for the inauguration of this magnificent new/old space.

Due to connection problems I have had to post my blog from a Cyber Cafe and therefore cannot include photos - sorry! I'll be back with the images as soon as I can! See you soon!

March 13, 2006

Report from Maastricht

Hello from the historic city of Maastricht, Holland!

Once again, The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) is extraordinary! We arrived this afternoon on the train from Paris, and went directly to the fair. Approximately 250 of the finest dealers in paintings, porcelains, antiquities, jewelry, furniture, objets d'art etcetera, etcertera are gathered in what is normally a very modern convention facility that for 10 days every March is transformed into a fantasy land of beautiful objects. Simply entering the fair is breathtaking - thousands and thousands of tulips are gathered into bouquets inside plexiglass cubes that are staggered from floor to ceiling.

Notable presentations so far - a Spanish 18th Century Psalterus (stringed instrument like a harpsichord) inside a painted case at Jaime Eguigueren from Buenos Aires, sterling silver horse equipage at Arte de Hispanoamérica, also from Argentina, a pair of painted clay figures of European gentlemen done by Chitque of the Qing Dynasty (1730-1745) at Jorge Welsh from Lisbon, and most outstanding of all, a Venetian gondola armchair from the later 1700's at Frank C. Möller, Hamburg. But really, there is so much to see, and of such high quality, that it is truly overwhelming.

The City of Maastricht has bent over backwards to welcome both exhibitors and spectators to this annual event. Dinner at 'T Pak Hoes was outstanding - dare I say, better than many French restaurants.

Many thanks to Michael Findley of Acquavella for his gracious hospitality, and Anthony Meyer of Galerie Meyer Oceanic Art for the restaurant recommendation.

Looking forward to tomorrow and next year!

March 07, 2006

Heading off to Paris!

It's time for our Spring trip to Paris! This trip will be especially fun because we have been blessed by a friend with a sweet little apartment on the Boulevard Saint Germain and we can pretend to be Parisiens as we shop for baguettes, fromage and vin rouge!

Next Monday, we will take a train to Maastricht, Holland, to visit The European Fine Art Fair, or TEFAF, considered to be the greatest art and antiques fair in the world. Maastricht is also historically very important as the oldest city in the Netherlands, the first Dutch city liberated by the Allies in 1944, and more recently, the site of the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 that created the Euro.

After TEFAF is the opening of "Art Paris", a brand new art fair in the newly restored Grand Palais. It should be a great opening and of course, I will post a report.

Finally, on the 21st is the opening of the Salon du Dessin, a first class drawings fair held in the elegant Palais de la Bourse, the former Paris Stock Exchange which is now a totally up-to-date meeting and exhibition facility. It is a perfect setting for the beautiful drawings shown here by prestigeous galleries.

So, you can see we have a full agenda and I am very much looking forward to Springtime in Paris! Naturally, I will do some shopping for prints and other goodies which you will be able to view on my website:

I hope you'll check the blog for my travel reports and of course the website to see what new treasures I've found! A bientôt!

March 02, 2006

Works on Paper 2006

The 18th Annual Works on Paper Exhibition opened with a benefit preview last evening, and to the general public today. Despite the snow, the aisles were full of eager spectators viewing this year's offering of prints, drawings, watercolors and photographs from Old Masters to Contemporary.

With exhibitors from across the United States, as well as Canada, England, France and Germany, there is truly "Something for Everyone". I particularly enjoyed seeing the Warhol "Shoe" watercolors at Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, the collages by Hilla Rebay at Gary Snyder Fine Art and the magnificent Helleu etching at Galerie Grillon.

If you happen to be in New York this weekend, take a couple of hours to visit the Seventh Regiment Armory, Park Avenue at 67th Street, and enjoy the variety of "Works on Paper".