Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jazz à Juan

Jazz à Juan

acrylic on stretched canvas
36" x 36"
91.4 cm x 91.4 cm

This painting is my gift to the tourist office of Antibes Juan-les-Pins. I have been invited by the mayor of tourisme to enjoy every evening of Musiques Au Coeur (Music of the heart - Opera at Eilenroc) and several concerts at Jazz à Juan (Jazz at Gould Pinede in Juan-les-Pins). What gift can I give in return other than a painting that represents my experiences in beautiful Antibes?

One of the most memorable moments for me in my three months was listening to the competition of musicians on Nationale Festival - to we Americans it's Bastille Day. I cannot even describe the moment when the beautiful saxophonist played 'What are you doing the rest of your life' ... the audience was awestruck with emotion. It was overwhelming. And ... she won the competition - hands down.

These are some of the moments that I take with me ... to share with my friends and family in Bethlehem and Allentown, PA. To encourage grabbing opportunities with gusto. To live the life you want. I know ... for sure ... it 'ain't' easy ... but even a day at the Farmers' Market ... to leave the tv off and prepare a dinner for your family. To take a class in cooking or learn another language ... to walk instead of drive. To write a letter instead of email. To plant a garden ... to listen to great music ... to take risks and ... when you look back on your life ... it's the great enjoyment that you will remember ...

So ... these last three months ... incredible for me. Just this morning I donned my Keds and walked to Juan-les-Pins ... strolling the promenade ... and then back again to take my familiar and cherished walk past Belle Rives, Port Galice, Port Crouton ... and the little harbour of
Port de l'Olivette ... past the gardens of Eden Roc ... and rounding the bend to see the spectacular sight of the old stone village of Antibes.

And I say to you ... grab every moment if you can ... life marches by all too quickly ...


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Justice - the painting

Justice - the painting
80 cm x 130 cm

On June 23rd, early in the morning, robbers climbed the locked gate at Villa Fontaine and slipped inside the villa to steal everything that I have worked for in the last year. My computer with over 2000 photos, my incredible Olympus e620 camera and lenses, my 80g iPod, my two Razr cell phones (one American, one French) and my purse and all of its contents including my passport and drivers' license. They were ruthless and their crime crippled me financially for sure. They used my credit cards as well and in one store bought over $460 worth of alcoholic beverages. Nice people, huh? ... and they never even invited me to the party.

It was at this time that I was approached to create a painting for the very new Hall of Justice in Antibes. I know very little about justice in the court system and attorney offices ... but I do know of justice in my every day life. And I decided to draw upon my tragic experience and the rallying of friends and family.

Well, in the darkest moments you are able to see the brightest light. In three cities in three separate countries, friends and relatives rallied and came to my aid. In America, my brother brought me another computer, I received another incredible Olympus e620, my sister prevented the cancellation of my health insurance and my cousins commissioned two paintings. My friends in Schwaebisch Gmuend gave me a gift of a plane ticket so I could see them after four long years and also attend and photograph the wedding of my friends Michael and Julia. We shared dinners and champagne ... and even celebrated with the new Oberburgermister Richard Arnold. My friends in Antibes also took me under their wing - thank you for the much enjoyed and appreciated dinners and concerts, boat rides and jeep rides - and to my friends - the artists of the Marche Provencal - you welcomed me in with open arms. I will always think upon my happy evenings spent with you.

So, in addition to this ... each day I awake in a beautiful room with old wooden beams across the ceiling in a historic villa in the French Riviera. There's a large picture window overlooking clay rooftops, lush gardens, sailboats and the blue Mediteranean sea. Each day I stroll past the villas and mansions of Cap d'Antibes and return to the coziness of the ancient old village of Antibes. Every morning I discover and rediscover the sights, sounds and tastes of the Marche Provencal. Every day I stroll past the yachts and sailing vessels of Port Vauban. This is my justice - to live a rich life. To enjoy all that has been offered to me. And it's a lot.

So, I thank all of you who have been there to help me ... I appreciate it so very much. You are the reason I am able to become restored and happy ... and what better justice is there than that ?

My early morning walks

Jazz a Juan sculpture

Early in the morning I enjoy my long walks passing through Juan les Pins, Cap d'Antibes and back to the old village of Antibes to the Safranier section where I live - at least for three months that is. It's a long walk - maybe 10 kilometers ... and takes almost three hours because I stop for the many photo opportunities.

This is the Jazz Sculpture in Juan-les-Pins. It was created by Gilbert Giulian who passed away earlier this year. It's the beautiful backdrop for the greatest names in Jazz. Next year, by the way, is the 50th Anniversary of the Jazz a Juan festival. It's the oldest and largest Jazz festival in Europe - and, I'm happy to say, that I've been invited many times to sit close while sipping chilled Champagne. Incroyable, n'cest-ce pas ?? !!

My walk continues past the gorgeous Belles Rives. You can relax with a cocktail or have dinner under the blue and white striped canopy next to the sea. It's stunned with mouth open beautiful. I walk along the sandy beaches past the Port Galice and admire the sailboats and yachts ... and antique Citroens !

little fishing boat complete with parasol
One of my favorite sights in Antibes is the quaint and picturesque Port de l'Olivette. Beautiful old wooden fishing boats are harboured here and it's a delight to stroll past them with each long walk.

Strolling past Beach Plage with their beautiful striped blue and white lounges and umbrellas

Hotel du Cap

For those of you who have never heard of Hotel du Cap - 'Eden Roc' as it is more widely known, it is reputedly the most beautiful hotel in the world. I agree. The most beautiful. Not only the gracious and grand hotel, but the gardens are magnificent !!! My friend Patricia and I strolled through the gardens and stone paths and bungalows (yes you are correct, only patrons are allowed beyond the iron gates ... but ... WHY save all this beautiful just for the rich and famous I ask you ?) My ONE unfulfilled desire in beautiful Antibes was to swim in the breathtakingly beautiful infinity pool ... but since we were trespassers we felt it best not to press our luck. Besides, we didn't have our bathing suits with us - or at least the required bikini bottom.

The rear entrance to Hotel du Cap complete with beautiful dining terrace and view to la Mer - fantastique !

Eden Roc restaurant and terrace and beautiful eternity pool

I always admire this villa when I go on my walks. It was told to me that the Ambassador of Ireland lived here. It's not occupied at the moment and there are workers there every day. If anyone could lend me a couple of million dollars I could move right on in.

It comes with it's own incredible pool AND incredible view !

And lush strolling grounds with beautiful marble wall

Completing the circle, I come into view of beautiful Antibes ... complete with sailboats, blue sea and ...
My incredible home - Villa Fontaine !

So, what has it been like to live in Antibes for three months. First of all, the time flew by as I feared it would. I've enjoyed evenings at Jazz a Juan, Music of the Heart, Concerts at Fort Carre, fireworks, painting with the artists of Marche Provencal, boat rides, tours of the other Riviera towns like Monaco, Villefranche sur Mer, Nice, Biot, Cannes, St. Raphael and St. Tropez ... I've been invited to lovely dinner parties, sunbathed and swam (sans top) in the Mediterranean, shopped at the markets, painted, photographed ... and made friends.

It's been great and I wish that I could do it all over again. Words escape me when trying to describe the beautiful of Antibes. It's special.

Antibes could very well be the most beautiful place on earth.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

St. Tropez and Karl Lagerfeld

Yesterday, August 22nd, my friend Patricia and I decided to embark on a journey to St Tropez. At 8:47 a.m. we boarded the train at the gare in Antibes, made one stop in Cannes and reached our first destination of St. Raphael within 30 minutes. St. Raphael is a seaside town boasting a beautiful Cathedral and a waterside fish market.

We strolled the streets watching our time because at precisely 11:30 the boat to St. Tropez would be departing. We chose the front outside seats and the crowded boat surged ahead bobbing and lunging past the small seaside villages.


It was really fantastic. The sights, the breeze ... speaking of, I didn't know my white skirt was flying up behind me exposing my Italian-made white panties ... until, many minutes later, I caught a reflection of myself in the window behind me. Pushing my skirt down in a panic, a man leaned forward and said 'no worry ... tres bien!' ... those French !!


We arrived in beautiful St. Tropez and our first destination is naturally the market. In all towns of France there is the market. Some markets, like the Marche Provencal in Antibes are open every day in the summer. The Marche Provencal features vendors selling produce and meat, fish and flowers. To stroll through the market if only to smell the tapenade is worth it. Incroyable !! There is also the 'Thursday' market in Antibes where vendors sell beautiful table cloths, clothing, shoes, lingerie, jewelry, hand bags - you name it, they sell it. I love the smells and the colors and there is certainly always a photo moment or two ...

Sun hats

After the splendor of the market, we decided to explore the old town. There are quaint narrow cobblestone streets and expensive designer shops. We passed this beautiful restaurant 'Chez Fuchs' ... and I wondered if possibly I could have been distantly related to the owner. My Mother's maiden name is Fuchs ... but my grand father 'Americanized' it to it's translated counterpart 'Fox'.

Evetually we became very hungry. Two girls on a budget in the French Riviera ... we passed on the 'trop cher' cafes in favor of two paninis, one beer and two waters and found a lovely table with two chairs situated under a large tree in a tiny square. Parfait !!

Moi avec a large painting of Brigitte Bardot. Brigitte Bardot lives in St. Tropez ... but, although we spent the day there, we were not able to spot her .... BUT ...

How 'bout this for excitement !! Who IS that girl that Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel, Fendi) is with in St. Tropez you ask? Why, that's me ... just a girl from Allentown, PA. Voila !!

Monsieur Lagerfeld ... if you ever would like your portrait painted in your finest finery, please send me an email - it would be an honor and a great thrill indeed !!

Another great boat ride back to beautiful Antibes

Now, although I've toured Monaco, Villefranche sur Mer, Nice, Cannes, St. Raphael, Biot, and St. Paul de Vence, I must tell you that absolutely without a doubt, Antibes is by far my favorite. It's perfect. The old beautiful village, the Marche Provencal, the artists' market, the culture, the nightlife in Juan les Pins and the walks through Cap d'Antibes ... it's lovely.

I believe it could be the most beautiful place on earth.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Water Skiing - the discovery and enjoyment of the French Riviera

Patrick's boat
This is my friend Patrick. When I lost all technology in the Villa Fontaine, Antibes ... he came to my rescue. I had no internet for days and days ... no connection to the world and my family ... I didn't know until three days later that Michael Jackson died. Imagine that ??!! Probably the last person on the planet earth. So ... within one visit from Patrick - the tekkiest guy I know in the south of France - I had a computer with internet connection AND a cell phone ! Incroyable !!!

Patrick is a go-getter, a dare-devil if you will. He drives a relic from WWII - an old American Jeep assembled in France - AND, he has a boat to boot ! So ... I am happily invited to tag along on a 'white-boarding' adventure with Patrick and his friends Patrick and Didier. Cool.
I bring along my Olympus e620 and HOPE that I do not fall into the Mediterranean. I do have the tough 8000 which is good to 35 ft. underwater, but I wanted to shoot for longer distances ABOVE water ... so, keeping my fingers that all will be ok, we head off in his incredible Jeep to just west of Cannes, France.

Patrick driving his boat
So .. great .. we're off. The first in the water is Didier. He's a really powerful guy and a good skier. By the way, the French take pride in claiming ownership of discovering water-skiing ... BUT ... let this be said - according to researched information:

The water ski was invented at least four times, by four people independently of one another, over the span of about 15 years. Each inventor was probably inspired by the aquaplane.

An aquaplane is basically a surfboard, 6-10 feet long and about 3 feet wide, which is pulled behind a powerboat. The rider stands on the board, holding onto a rope. Aquaplaning was invented on the French Riviera and in many areas of the United States in the early 20th century.

Ralph Samuelson figured that two skis might work as well as one board. On June 28, the 18-year-old Samuelson tested his theory on Lake Pepin at Lake City, Minnesota. Riding an aquaplane behind a boat driven by his older brother, Samuelson put his hand-made skis on and stepped onto the water. He fell after a very brief ride.

But he kept experimenting. On July 2, Samuelson found that the best way to ride was with the ski tips slanted upward while he leaned back on the skis.

So ... there you have it ... maybe. I'll be a believer that the French invented at least 'some' kind of water skiing first ... because, if nothing more, all the natural beauty and their love of sports.

Ok ... yeah, yeah, yeah they're on skis for several minutes battling the waves, jumping and turning and balancing ... but did I mention how exhauuuusting taking photos is ???!!! Ouch ... my index finger !!

This is Patrick - another Patrick. And ... he's licensed to drive boats - so, Patrick takes the wheel for Patrick the skier.
American women pay attention: This is what French men do on their day off. Incroyable, n'est-ce pas ?
Does James Bond come to mind ?
Patrick on ONE ski !!! Ok, I'll have my martini shaken, not stirred ... s'il vous plait
And once again being chauffeured home in his incroyable WWII Jeep !

Sports and the French and German. Now, I can only speak of the French and German people doing sports because in the other countries that I have been in Europe, I was usually in a museum or sipping wine in some quaint cafe. Therefore, I'm not at liberty to discuss sports in other countries with an expert opinion.

With that said, let me tell you my observations on the subject of sport- or rather the sporting lifestyle - in France and Germany.
They will hike miles and miles to sit at a picnic table in an old barn on a farm or to climb the craggy and dangerous rocks to have the perfect seaside picnic. They not only climb the jagged rocks, but lug along Provencal umbrellas, picnic baskets and fishing rods.

They jump off cliffs with jagged rocks below - over and over again. Believe you me, I've seen it first hand.

These people are not 'couch potatoes'. In the last three months I have not seen ONE tv show AND I have not seen anyone watch a tv show. Now I'm SURE when it's time for the world cup, the bars and cafes will be full of eager Europeans glued to the set, but otherwise it's a moot point. I love that about Europe -

Of course, that doesn't mean that I will be jumping off jagged cliffs anytime soon ...


Justice ... the painting

Justice ... painting in progress
97 cm x 130 cm
38.18 inches x 51.18 inches

One of the requirements of having the great honor of being selected as the artist in residence in the Villa Fontaine, Antibes, France ... is to create a painting for the city. Well, last year I left seven paintings with the city including the 'Red Violin' painting. I'm very happy about leaving a bit of myself - my art - in beautiful Antibes ... as well as my sister-city of Schwaesbisch Gmuend.

So ... this year I donated the 'Trumpet' painting to the Music 'Conservatory' ... but I also painted a lovely view of Antibes for City Hall. In addition, I have been asked to paint a large canvas that will hang in the entrance of the new Hall of Justice. It's a very clean, stark, modern space so it's been said that they are hoping for something modern and colorful.

I had many feelings about Justice since being approached about this painting. I've been robbed of every investment that I made for my trip to Antibes. My computer, two Razr cell phones, 80g iPod, usb cables .... three lenses ... and my fabulous Olympus e620 - effiin rat bastards - excuse my french. So ... Justice ... well ... I think ok, ok ... I've been robbed. BUT ... I look out the large double windows in my upstairs bedroom ... and what do I see? The clay rooftops of a beautiful stone villa, cobblestones, pine trees and bouganvilla, sailboats and yachts, blue sky ... and the rich cool blue of the beautiful Mediterranean.

With the tragedy of my robbery, friends came forth to lend a hand. Some with much needed money, my wonderful camera, another with dining and companionship, another with a jeep ride in the red rocks of Var, a boatride off the shores of beautiful Cannes, friends offering the means to travel to Schwaebisch Gmuend ... and the artists of the Marche Provencal welcoming me with open arms. So ... justice ... I don't know about what happens in the courtroom or the lawyer's office ... but justice to me ... is being here .. in paradise. The ancient history, the beauty, the smells and the tastes and the way people live ... but most of all the kindness of friends and family from Antibes to Schwaebisch Gmuend to 4000 miles away in Allentown, Pa. Thank you so much for being the light in the darkness.

The one thing that I bought myself - thank you Gundi ! - was a woven market basket. I went through the piles at the Marche Provencal ... and voila ! after inspecting them all, I purchased the VERY first one I had seen. I would like to use this wonderful basket at the Farmer's Market in Allentown when I return. I don't like the thought of so many plastic bags and there is a simple pleasure to carrying a wonderful basket from the South of France. It has nice sturdy leather handles and still carries the earthy aroma of farmland.

So, off to the market to purchase some wonderful eats. Even in Allentown I enjoy eating 'Mediterranean' style. I buy lots of tomatoes and salad and peppers and garlic. I grill fish several times a week ... but I only wish I could afford better wine to accompany my delicious meals. I'm a bit spoiled by the incredible wines that I shared with Michaele, Conrad, Gundi and Ali. Rich oaky reds that awaken my senses and distinguish it as something special. Usually my wallet settles for the Zinfandel from Chile - which don't get me wrong - I still enjoy wholeheartedly !!

sautéing salmon with tomatoes, onions, chili pepper, garlic, parsely ... and ravioli with spinach and parmesan cheese.
becoming a master of the petite stove in the petite Villa Fontaine - so I have everything I need - oh, except for a rich, hot, available french boyfriend !!
buying shrimp at the market - yes, always with heads attached.
Another wonderful and healthy dinner enjoyed on my terrace of the Villa Fontaine
My incredible view at dusk

So, I will keep you informed of the Justice painting. Since this painting will hang on the wall of the Hall of Justice as you enter the building, it is most important to me to do the best that I can do. I try to transcend that philosophy in all aspects of my life. Cuisine, art, design, studio, home ... and friends.

Once again, to those of you who helped me in my great time of need and showed me kindness - to me, yours is the greatest value of justice and in painting this painting I think of you.