Friday, July 31, 2009

l'Auberge Provencal

l'Auberge Provencal located in Place Nationale
dining in the garden of l'Auberge Provencal
tasting the oysters
shrimp with risotto
the beautiful garden of l'Auberge Provencal

Dining at l'Auberge Provencal

Since I have been in Antibes last year ... I have always wanted to dine at l'Auberge Provencal. It's a quaint and very old restaurant ... with a lovely garden restaurant situated in the rear of the ancient building. There is a central fountain ... and tables dressed in white linen and country chairs ... and polished silver and glass ware. It beckons you in.

I had the wonderful opportunity to dine there on July 27th. Oysters ... wine ... shrimp risotto ... and petite cafe ... very lovely.

And ... hopefully next year I will be exhibiting a new JAZZ series at the l'Auberge Provencal ! They have a lovely area exhibiting paintings and sculpture ... and for the 50th Anniversary of the Jazz a Juan Festival ... I can't think of a lovelier place to be than l'Auberge Provencal.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Le Rustic Cafe - July 22nd

I thought I'd share a little of what the old city of Antibes looks like. This beautiful building is where I live. It's the Villa Fontaine. So each day I enjoy living here and the view from the bedroom on the second floor is outstanding. You see over the clay rooftops and lush gardens to the Mediterranean Sea. It's not a bad way to wake up, n'est-ce pas ?? !!

This is the little house behind my villa. I thought that these were children's bicycles ... but then I saw an older man riding one of them ...

This is the little street behind my villa - Rue de Haut Castelet. It's centuries old ... with inlaid cobblestones, tiny houses, potted plants, shutters ... and quaintness beyond belief.
This is the street in front of my Villa - incroyable !!!
On the way to the Marche Provencal ...
turning the corner ...
the tiny cobblestone street by the Esprit Restaurant
Jim and Diana ... stealing a kiss ...
dining in Place Nationale ...
Dining at Le Rustic
Moules Frites and Vin Rose ...
Salade Nicoise
Pizza Marguerite
Oh Happy day !!!

I cannot really describe how beautiful Antibes is ... photos cannot begin to capture it's charm and quaintness. Imagine you are in an ancient village .. settled by the Greeks, then the Romans ... ancient architecture ... stone and cobblestones ... and the aromas ... with every step the flavors in the air change ... scents of lavender then frommage .. then the salt from the sea ... and then expensive cologne ... it's really apparant .. especially when you're used to just smelling car fumes and cigarettes. And the beauty of Antibes ... the palm trees and flowers .. and gardens ... it's pretty much the most beautiful place on earth. You can hear church bells, not the sound of new bells ... but the clank of the old bells ... and singing ... and people whistle in Antibes ... and, people seem so much happier here, they smile more and laugh often ... I think the secret is ... that they live in Paradise ...


The Poissonnerie

La Poissonnerie - acrylic 30" x 30"

Time is fleeting by and I have only one third left of my residency in the Villa Fontaine. I need to focus on painting and painting well ... and maybe painting over the paintings that I feel are lacking - which might be all of them (except for maybe one or two). A favorite subject of mine is the fish market - the Poissonnerie. I've painted dozens of paintings of fish. You can see them on my comprehensive website: I'm attracted to the textures and the colors and the mix of the beautiful and the grotesque.

So it's 9:00 a.m. here and I'm getting ready for my long walk around Cap d'Antibes. I need to photograph the small harbour with the little wooden boats. I've already taken dozens of photos there, but with the theft of my camera, sadly, they are all lost. So now, I begin again. Plus, I need to shed some pounds after eating and drinking my way through the Riviera with Jim and Diana ...


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The beauty of Lingerie - the secrets of french women

Ok .. I'm just going to be frank about this subject. French women love lingerie. And they pay big bucks for the most beautifully constructed pair of top and bottom. You don't necessarily need to pay top dollar for beautiful intimates ... I bought this pair at the Thursday market for 5 euros ... maybe 8 dollars.

French women care about how they look. They are beautiful and sexy ... and they not only do this for men, but for themselves. You can imagine if they are wearing something so sensuous on the outside, what they could be wearing underneath. No big bloomers for sure.

American women take notice: yes, Victoria Secret is an investment ... so maybe once a year buy yourself something exquisite .. not just for your man .. but for You !!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thalazur - the spa of Antibes

Now, I did mention the crime in the French Riviera. Yes, yes I know crime happens all over the world ... but what better place to be a criminal than in one of the richest resorts in the world? Unsuspecting tourists arrive with their new expensive camera, their iPods, their laptops ... are away at the beach for most of the day ... eat out at the cafes in the evening ... and sleep with their windows open.

Sadly, yesterday evening, my very nice neighbors visiting from Belgium were robbed. They had the exact camera that I have - the incredible OLYMPUS e620 - just purchased for this trip. The robber climbed up on their car and hoisted himself into the upstairs bedroom window where their daughter slept. She awoke to see him reaching for her iPhone ... and then he ran ... carrying with him their belongings. It's a real problem here. WHO are these people that steal ??? I live my life and support my life as an artist ... certainly in the lowest earning bracket in the United States ... and saved everything I could to purchase the things I brought with me. And these people are unconcerned about the financial and emotional damage that they bring to trusting people. It's sad. Now I live with the cage closed and locked ... and although I hate to do it, and haven't done it yet, I may now sleep with the upstairs window closed. The last thing I could handle is another computer and camera stolen -- so, must safeguard with my life.

The morning of July 21st, these two men from the city come to weld a lock on the gate to the terrace. I like to have the gate open and enjoy the view to the sea - over the gardens and clay rooftops ... but, certainly at night when I paint, or catch up on my writing, the gate is closed and locked. Criminals have very little fear and will enter your home - even when you are there.

Walking to the market

Jim, Diana and I take the bus to Thalazur. Well, not exactly to Thalazur ... we still have a 15 minute walk from the bus stop. Thalazur is the wonderful spa in the north of Antibes where I spent three glorious weeks last year. Thalazur has five swimming pools, sauna , seaweed wraps, all sorts of massages ... you name it, they have it. And all of the spa goers walk around in their spa bathrobes and special flip-flops. I just use the gorgeous swimming pool with the saltwater piped in from the Mediterranean.

The other great thing about Thalazur is that they have three of my Jazz series oil paintings hanging in their beautiful solarium. They are in excellent company with a high glass ceiling, wrought-iron furniture and glass tables. It's a real thrill for me to see them there. And if I must say so myself, they look great.

the proud artist

So ... after the painting photo shoot, we are ushered to our table on the terrace. Thalazur serves wonderful food - fresh from the sea. The only disappointment is that last year, the chef cooked your food on a large outdoor grill ... and for some reason this isn't so this year. I loved seeing the chef busy over the smoking grill with the fish sizzling and the aroma filling the air ... but there is still much beauty to look at under the bright yellow umbrellas. You can see as far to the Mediterranean ... over the treetops ... and the large Ferris Wheel of 'Antibesland'.

Mmmm .... oysters ... with lemon and diced onions in a vinegar and oil combo
Le Poisson of the day - served whole ... but then the waiter came by and said that the chef will fillet it for me. Well, really there is no need as I am able to fillet a fish on my own. I learned it last year in Antibes when six of us dined at the Le Transat Restaurant. I watched as Monsieur Rambaud delicately sliced the top of the fish from the bottom and removed the spine and bones in one fell swoop. Of course you probably will always have a stray bone here and there, but it's the art of the fillet that I enjoy. But, respecting the chef, I hand over my plate and let the expert prepare it for me. It arrives back at the table sans head and tail and bones (mostly).

Jim and Diana choose the Poulet (chicken) with an incroyable sauce !!!
The palm tress of Thalazur looking past the Ferris Wheel of Antibesland

The spa at Thalazur
Setting the table at the Villa Fontaine

One of the nicest things to do - and the least expensive - is to purchase your baguettes, frommage, salade and vin from the local market. I go to the store 'Champion' for what I consider the best bread that I have ever had. I have been told which are the best boulangeries in Antibes ... but, trust me on this, the baguette avec multi-cereal (baguette with multi-grain) is THE best. More crust than fill ... and great crunch - just the way I like it. Americans take note: put the white Wonderbread down and go to Wegmans just to try a crunchy baguette - and remember more crust, less fill. It will change your life. And maybe your waistline. Of course, it's so delicious that I could eat the whole baguette - so maybe it equals out in the end anyway.

Ok ... so we purchased three cheeses: Swiss for Jim, Brie for Diana ... and Roquefort for me. I love the strong cheeses with a rich deep red wine. We also buy the most delicious cherry tomatoes bursting with flavor, mache (look for it at Wegmans ... ??) and the black Provencal olives in brine ... totally awesome. You will have a 'What about Bob' moment for sure !!!!!

And a word about the wine. You can buy an great bottle of wine for less than three euros. Ok, maybe Baron Philippe de Rothschild would not agree or a a lover of Chateau Margaux ... but, why spend hundreds of dollars on one bottle when you can buy a plethora of inexpensive bottles for the same price I say ??!!

So, we had dinner by candlelight ... listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong ... a really great day ... a really great dinner ... a really great life ... in beautiful Antibes, France.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Piano

The Piano - 36" x 36" acrylic

The Piano

Four summers ago I had a wonderful exhibition in beautiful Schwaebisch Gmuend. It was held in the Music School which was built in 1380 A.D. How's that for history ?!! It was my second exhibition in Germany and my third summer spent there with wonderful friends. This year was extra special because delegates from Antibes, France were also in attendance. So began my friendship with Antibes. The Mayor of Tourisme, Monsieur Rambaud invited me to exhibit my 'music' series in Galerie Bains Douches in Antibes during the Jazz Festival. So ... paintings already shipped, I arrived in Antibes, France last year ... and my exhibition was incroyable !!! Galerie Bains Douches is a cavernous stone gallery with bright halogen lights ... and there they were - my music series paintings. I cannot begin to tell you what that meant to me.

Happy for me, two days before last Christmas I received a contract to be the artist in residence in the historic Villa Fontaine in Antibes, France for three months -- THREE MONTHS !!!! So, here I am ... in Paradise .. and time is racing by ... almost two thirds over .. trying to soak in every moment.

This painting - the Piano - I painted for my friend Monsieur Rambaud. He owns the original oil painting - the Red Violin - which you folks from the Lehigh Valley might remember. It was featured during the Elizabeth Pitcairn concert at Symphony Hall. She is the proud owner of the Red Mendelsohn - on which the movie 'The Red Violin' was created.

This painting measures 36" x 36" and so far, is my favorite piece. I plan to leave all paintings in Antibes ... except for a few small pieces ...

So, Monsieur Rambaud, I hope that you are happy with your gift. Thank you for your generosity and kindness. It has enriched my life.


July 19th - the ancient village of Biot

We walked over to the bus station and boarded the bus to Biot. Biot is a very beautiful ancient village near Antibes dating back to 154 BC and overlooking hills covered with mimosas and olive trees.

Visiting Biot is to take a real tour through Provençal history. Its streets and alleys are names accordingly : la Calade, Le Portugon, Le Cul de Sac, La calade des Migraniers, Lei Croûtons, place de l'Airette, rue Rondon, rue des orfevres, place de la Catastrophe (where two houses collapsed on June 12, 1898), and place des Arcades which is outlined on two sides by Romanesque and Gothic arcades. One can't help but admire the beautiful doors, vaults, stairways, stonework, sundials, cobblestones, and the perspectives from one street to another.
Tasting Pastis
tables tucked in
Salade Nicoise and Vin Rose
Salmon and Salade
(photo courtesy of Diana with my Olympus Tough 8000 camera)

The Art of Biot

The little village of Biot received the nomination of "City of Art"
This label honores the quality and diversity of the craftsmen and artists creating there.

The little town of Biot is known to be the highlight of glass making. There are several glass blowers' workshops in Biot. The sides of each piece contain millions of tiny air bubbles which capture each sun ray or candlelight, and their sparkling beauty enhances the pleasure of using them. Each piece is blown by a master of the art of glass making, and each one is unique. They still use the centuries old technique of blowing the hot melted glass out of their ovens and turning it into masterpieces.

Ceramics - also famous in Biot
Quaint little shops selling Provencal dresses, Biot glassware and ceramics, jewelry, tablecloths and napkins ...
The little shop where I bought Eva's Provencal dress last year ... and this year ...
Navigating the narrow alleyways and cobblestoned walkways
Afterwards, visiting the beach - you can see the old village of Antibes in the far distance
Ok .. ok ... well, here's me at the beach in my Victoria Secret bathing suit - after eating and drinking my way through Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur for the last 10 days ... and also doesn't the camera add 10 pounds in addition ?? The water is great by the way, cool and refreshing. As long as you bring your bikini bottoms and a towel, you're good to go !
At 9:00 p.m. I walked to Juan-les-Pins and attended the finale of Jazz a Juan. They featured Gospel music ... a favorite of the evening for me was 'Oh Happy Day' ...