Forum Blair Pessemier Acrylic/canvas
Blair Pessemier Notre Dame (archives)
We had just gone to bed last night (early!) when I heard a woman chanting outside our window. This was Good Friday, and the parish of Stimigliano was parading the dead Jesus statue around the town. I had seen the statue, an alarming polychromed slightly-larger-than-lifesize affair, on a black platform, with handles, in the church earlier in the day. A statue of the crying Marie in a black robe stood beside. The church looked beautiful, lit only by candles. Mario told us the thing to do was to walk seven times, praying, between the altar and the platform where Jesus lie, to dispel the devil. I wondered where they kept this particular statue when it wasn’t Good Friday, and how many other “special event” statues there were.
I have always found it difficult to take in the torture/death of Jesus Christ. It puts me in the mind of how my own mother used to bring me to a purple draped church (statues removed) on this day, and I’d have to kiss the feet of the dead Christ statue. After a sleepless night, the custom was curtailed.
I am amazed how natural Catholicism is to people in Italy (maybe I shouldn’t be, the Vatican and all). It is a part of life, not macabre, not commercial, but loving and caring. Despite years in a Catholic school in America, it never flowed with the life I lived there. Although religiosity is not something I embrace, I can live alongside it and enjoy it. I even occasionally participate.
I didn’t feel that way in Paris, despite the many churches. People didn’t go to church as much as they do in Italy. Churches were for tourists, or concerts; we went to a funeral at St Sulpice.
I have been missing Paris, and the fire at Notre Dame brought it closer to my attention. I sold my last Notre Dame image, during the fire, in my Etsy store. I can’t remember how many times I painted it, with Blair and with painting workshop students, over the twenty years we lived there. It will be interesting to see what is done in the remake of the church: so much of it was the result of improvements in the 1800s.
Blair painted an iconic image of the church, for someone who just died. I envision the painting at a family “estate sale”, where it sells for 1% of its original value. What happens to our paintings one day gives me pause to think. A famous artist who was dying a couple of years ago had a ceremonial bonfire for the unsold and less-than-perfect bits. I was planning to do that last year with our baseball show, but protestations by others didn’t allow. $750.00 later, it’s still in the storage locker.
It’s difficult to donate artwork. We’ve proposed various arrangements to no avail. So, I continue to seek new ways to sell it. My latest idea is to sell “walls” – paintings hung on the wall in an artful way and sold as a lot. I’ll send you photos of them in two weeks.
Meanwhile, we will be selling with the 100 Pittori on Via Margutta in Rome, the 24,5,6,7 and 28 April. I hope we see you there!