Artists Sell Art Instead of Pork

photo: browsers art marche

Only a few browsers, but it is still before noon.

At 'Creative' Street Marché

Paris:- Sunday, 15. August 1999:- It is the dead centre of this mythic summer month and it is not overly warm. Before fixing myself to sit for hours in front of the blue screen to put this issue together, I think a little stroll is in order.

I started out to do this a week ago. I got two blocks away and the camera batteries went dead and it started to rain. For today, last night's TV-weather forecast showed a break in the clouds for this morning at least - and the batteries seem fine.

I've seen a poster for a 'Marché de la Création,' held on Sundays at the location of the food marché on the Boulevard Edgar Quinet. Through the Montparnasse cemetery, this is a 10-minute walk away.

Once outside it is warmer than inside even if the sky looks doubtful. It looks like it could go either way, and it is going to take some time making up its mind.

Coming along Edgar Quinet, under the trees, I see a couple of booths set up in before the métro entrance.photo: metro edgar quinet Beyond them, I see there are many more stalls on the other side of Gaité, running down the slope towards the Rue du Départ.

In the not-summer season, the marché is on both sides of the métro exit.

The sun is throwing out tentative efforts of rays and these bring out the green of the low trees lining the boulevard; more attractive than I've ever seen it before. In August sad trees are usual. These are leafy enough to conceal the Montparnasse tower, which usually dominates all the view around here.

The artists are still setting up their booths, but by now they are mainly stringing lights. The art displayed is 'light' in the sense that there are no huge canvases; mainly it is customer-sized. Some booths display small art - paintings, sculptures and other craft objects.

It is before noon. There are not many browsers yet. It takes about 10 minutes to scan down the stalls on the left and the same amount of time to do the ones on the right coming back.

I see things I like. There are objects for 100 francs and there are others for 20,000. At the métro end, I ask a fellow sitting in a garden chair about the marché and he introduces me to Sylvie Gardyn, who has a booth and is also president of this marché's association.

Madame Gardyn tells me the 'Marché de la Création' has been on the Edgar Quinet marché for the last couple of years, since moving from near the Mairie of the 14th. There is more 'traffic' here, she says.

This marché runs all year; every Sunday, rain or shine. She says there are less than half the usual exhibitors today. In fall and winter there will be more than 100 booths - and 'traffic' is usually good in the rain.

The food marché on Edgar Quinet happens two days a week. The art association has a deal with the marché-stallphoto: entry to art stalls contractor to leave up the stalls after the Saturday food marché is over. This provides the booth structures and cover from rain.

The food marché stalls are left in place for Sunday mornings.

The cost to the artists who display their works is fairly minimal. Association dues, booth rental and electricity charges are about it. Madame Gardyn says the artists are from Paris, or from up to 200 kilometres away; some come every week and some only occasionally.

The point is, the public gets to see the works and the artists who did them, in informal surroundings. To the 'Art Industry,' peddling art works on a street marché is really lowball - but it is not very intimidating for the browsers and potential buyers. Quite the contrary.

Another difference between a shop-front gallery and a marché booth is the artists put up what they decide to show and sell. There can be a little or a lot of items in each stall; but mostly there is a large selection. Some artists share stalls too.

My feeling is that it is good to see something like this because it shows artists and their works - which shows that artists do work.

With a stall with paintings or illustrations on three of its canvas walls, with a table coveredphoto: central aisle art marche with smaller works and a price list - you look at all this, and because the artist is in front of you - they did all this. What they are doing in their garrets is working.

Neither too hot nor too cold today under slightly doubtful skies.

With all the reproduction shops around; their idea is to sell frames and the repro is sort of an after-thought. Here on this marché, I see no frame dealers.

Whether an artist or a potential art buyer, this street marché of art gives off a positive atmosphere. There is something for every taste and pocketbook; and the distance between seller and buyer is no more than at a food marché.

An added bonus is the four or five cafés around the métro station Edgar Quinet; ready to supply hot and cool drinks for deal-closing sessions.

It is a food for the soul marché.

Marche de le Création, every Sunday, from about 11:00. Boulevard Edgar Quinet, Paris 14. Métro: Edgar Quinet or Montparnasse. No need to phone for info - just come as you are.

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