Friday, January 24, 2014

View from Grasse

 View from Grasse   Laurie Fox Pessemier   acrylic/canvas  18 x 11 inches
Villa Les Roses   Blair Pessemier   acrylic/canvas  16 x 16 inches
 Stucco/Grasse    Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  11 x 9 inches
 From the Sentier   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  16 x 11 inches

 Hillside in Villefranche   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  36 x 28 inches

Bailing out   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  9 x 11

Artnotes:  Perfume

Today I wrote Artnotes with paper and pencil.  Blair and I share a single computer – how could we ever have become so dependent on technology?

1999 was the last time we’d been to Grasse, France – city of perfume.  We tried to stay at the hotel “la Bellaudiere”, that July, but it was before computers were de rigueur in France, and by the time we got there, the Inn was full.  Renoir stayed there 100 years prior, and the innkeeper was kind enough to show us his room, from which he painted, and then sent us on our way.   This time, we’re driving the 30 minutes from our apartment at Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Grasse was even more remarkable than I remembered. Once one leaves the littoral (beach) of the Cote d’Azur, the landscape, buildings and people become Provencal.  It’s drier, more yellow, people are less movie-star like, and in a word, the place is EARTHY.  

“It’s impossible to have friends here in Villefranche,” U tells us when we run into him on our morning walk.  “This is the most beautiful climate in Europe, and you can live without depending on anybody.  In the North, if your neighbor says he’ll cut the wood this winter, you count on him.  Here, nothing like that happens, people are completely selfish”.  I believe that in Provence, where there are farmers, people do depend on each other more – connected to the earth.

Grasse is a hill town, situated on the rim of a large bowl giving way to the sea.  The bowl, this Thursday in January, was full of bluish mist from fog and smoke from burning fires of trimmed foliage.  As I painted, I could smell the city of Grasse, a concoction of frangipani and burning brush.  We perched between two buildings, looking South.  Square buildings in warm stucco shades are set among towering palms and a mishmash of grey-turquoise trees on the hillsides below.  

I felt the invisible power of the Fragonard parfumerie and Auguste Rodin waft up from the valley and consume my spirit.


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