Slowly decorating my “home away from home” with a little of my own personal touches. While out running errands a few months back, I just happened upon a pop-up gallery exhibition. I wandered in, gave the awkward head nod that always seems to puzzle the French, as they prefer words – even in their quiet and mumble-like state. There were two artists exhibiting. The first, a painter, his work vibrant and bold, did not move me in a way that begged one to stay longer. The other, a sculptor of metals, his work invited me to cancel any further plans I had for that afternoon.
Among the artist’s works were a family of wooden totems, which I completely fell in love with (he rarely works in wood). I had not calculated art into my stringent budget. I lingered long with the totem family, contemplating, running and rearranging numbers stolen from other necessary obligations. While I stood there trying to make “a dollar out of fifteen cents“, the curator came over. She wanted to know what it was that had drawn me to the artist’s work. Hope. As corny and cliché as it sounds, it’s true.
While I immediately recognized a pain and suffering, there, too, was a sense of rebirthing – a knowing that life is filled with a complex of opposing emotions and realities. She then asked what it was I did for a living, and what brought me there to Paris, a question I dread a bit, knowing that so many writers have come to Paris in seek of some intangible thing. As with so many people (creatives in particular) I’ve met here in Paris, she was curious to hear more about my work, and suggested we meet for drinks in my favorite Jardin. I am looking forward to this, once the Parisians have returned from vacances.
I was also introduced to the artist, who appeared so reserved – almost shy-like, yet so very much attuned to his surroundings. I returned to the family of totems and started picking my favorites, even going so far as to identify each member of the family. The father – stout and overpowering. The grandmother – just as powerful and sturdy. The children – in all shapes and sizes, each with their own matching personalities. It might sound strange, but I had already begun to bond with the art, which, for me, had come to life. No matter how many ways I recalculated the cost of living abroad, my budget would not budge. I left the gallery empty-handed, but deeply inspired.
The curator and I kept in touch. Last month, while my family was visiting me here in Paris, the curator and artist invited us to his studio. That evening, we spent a couple of amazing hours discussing art and books and politics and France and America and basketball (as the artist is a retired professional player), while a cool summer breeze and the Eiffel Tower in the distance kept us company as night turned into day over the enchanting rooftop patio. I also got to visit with my totem family, knowing I could not possibly work all 8 members into my tight budget. But, as a writer, and someone who identifies as an artist, I know the importance and necessity of art and supporting artists, especially those with whom you connect.
Needless to say, numbers were crunched, stretched and pushed all over the place, allowing me to take home one member of the family, with hopes of bringing two more members home with me in the not-so-distant future. I’ll always support the art I want to see in the world, and I’ll always continue to leave myself open to great possibilities while connecting with others.
Check out the artist and his work: Gregory Morizeau