Artists are Retired or Modern Artists

Grocery shop
Fruit and veg instead of café this week.

If Neither of the Above, Then They are Lancia Artists

by Ric Erickson

Metropole Paris:- Monday, 28. April 1997:- This has been an odd week and I have the feeling of having done nothing. Rain started to fall on Friday, and it means that I will not have to write about the 'drought' this week, and I sincerely hope it has done the people who need it, some good.

Without premeditation - which is to say, I can't remember the why of it now - I took a look at 'art.' This came about by reading 'Nova' magazine and trying to figure out what the 'twenty-something' crowd might be up to - and finding out about the six 'modern art' galleries in the eastern side of the 13th arrondissement.

I had a preconceived idea that this was an area of total desolation, and the notion that six 'modern art' galleries would install themselves there needed checking out. Whether you appreciate 'modern art' or not, these galleries will act like a 'magnet' and draw others to the area - and thus 'create' a new quarter. It will be interesting to see it develop.

After the rue Louise Weiss, down the rue Chevaleret, architecture returns to normal: a mixture of an old - not old for Paris - worker's neighborhood and modern public housing - all of it still facing a large SNCF freight yard, with the new Tolbiac Bibliothèque Nationale on the other side.

My first surprise was to find a new Irish pub named 'Cogun's Café' there. Mr. Know-It-All had to go in and tell them 'Cogan' is the correct spelling, but it turned out 'Cogun's' is made up of two names, one of them German. The owner told me he'd run pubs in Picadilly for 20 years, and this was his first try with an 'Irish' pub in Paris. He also said there are 36 'Irish' pubs in the Ile-de-France and 70 throughout France.

Still going down rue Chevaleret I come across a 'garage' with Lancias outside and an Alfa Spider inside. None The restore garage of these cars were less than 20 years old, but the two of the outside Lancias looked new. The boss, with a slight Italian accent, restores these cars.

The beautiful Lancia coupé ouside the garage is pushed inside at night.

He showed me two 1960-era Lancia V-6 motors that appeared to be new, but were restored and had zero on their clocks. The engine compartments of the two cars looked like hospital operating rooms. This garage maintains and restores cars, mostly for private long-time customers; it does not buy or sell cars.

The interior of the garage was covered in oily parts and pieces and did not look like these plastic parts-exchange places they have for new cars. This contrasts very nicely with the jewel-like aspect of the cars and their motors, and I wonder if 'modern art' might not benefit from this level of workmanship.

On Friday I was admiring the interior of the city hall of Boulogne-Billancourt which appears to be a spare '30's ocean liner, while I was getting an administrative paper. As I had to get another one across the river in Sévres, I paid a visit to my 'own' modern artist, Foucault, who has an atelier there.

I used to share drinks with Foucault at the Bar Central in Meudon. He had an atelier in a shed in a courtyard nearby and took his lunch in the café, along with Mr. Stein, the Russian painter and mathematician, and all the researchers from the CNRS institute across the road.

There are lots of working artists out in the sticks in Foucault and atelier places like Meudon and I am hoping that Foucault will lead me to them - and I am trying to recruit him to go around to the big salons and 'critique' them for Metropole.

Foucault can paint and he knows how to do the handwork part of it. He is a good photographer too.

This is Foucault, who feels like a 'foreigner' in Sévres; although it is next door to Meudon.

But he has never - in ten years or more - opened his atelier in Sévres. I mean, never even opened the windows. He said he is not a 'Sévres' person; even if the atelier is a good size and in a good location to be a gallery.

I think he is semi-retired from the 'art business' like I am; but it is no big thing. Like riding a bike or swimming, you never forget how to do it - so you can always go back t it when the time is right.


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