Zola’s markets

Claude had enthusiastically leapt to his feet on the bench and forced his companion to admire daybreak on the vegetables. There was a sea of vegetables between the rows of pavilions from prime Saint-Eustache to rue des Halles. At the two intersections at either end the seas grew higher, completely flooding the pavement. Dawn rose slowly in soft grays, coloring everything with a light wash of watercolors. The mounting piles, like a swelling sea, the river of greenery rushing through the streets like an autumnal torrent, too on delicate shadows and hues: tender violet, milk blushed rose, a green steeped in yelllows—all the soft, pale hues that change the sky into silk at sunrise. Step by step the fire of dawn rose higher, shooting up bursts of flame at the far end of rue Rambuteau as the vegetables brightened and gew more distinct from the bluish darkness that clung to the ground. Lettuce , escarole, and chicory, with rich earth still stuck to them, opened to expose swelling hearts. Bundles of spinach, bunches of sorrel, packets of artichokes, piles of peas and beans, mountains of romaine tied with straw, sang the full greenery repertoire from the shiny green lacquered pods to the deep green leaves—a continuous range of ascending and descending scales that faded away in the variegated heads of elery and bundles of leeks. But the most piercing note of all came form the flaming carrots and the snowy splotches of turnips, strewn in ample quantities all along the market and lighting it with this colors.

The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola

Ferme s’écroulant

Farm collapsing 2012
charcoal and eraser on paper
200cm x 315cm

I’ve decided to cleave my new drawing in two. Aren’t I cruel?

I had planned on Farm collapsing, or as it has been titled here in Paris, Ferme s’écroulant, to be ten panels. At six I hit an impass. I knew what I had wanted to draw in those final panels, and I knew where in the drawing I had intended them to exist. But I just kept staring at the drawing as it was. Day after day, after evenings with friends and champagne, after morning coffees…until finally I realized that it was finished. I left it for the week while I visited the markets in Spain (there will be another market post when I’ve organized my photos). When I came home, I knew my instincts were right. It is “done.” At least, it will only be six panels. I need to tidy up some of the two panels that I thought would serve as connecting sections, so it isn’t completely finished. But I’ve moved it aside to take some of the pressure off, and will go back into it later.

This leaves four more panels, one of which is already drawn, that will now be its own drawing. Maybe it will be the second in a series called Farm collapsing, or maybe I need a new title for this one. First things first. Draw.

Reading outside

I had forgotten how to read. I don’t want to say “for pleasure” because reading at the gallery for curatorial reasons is a pleasure, and reading at home for artistic research and general expansion, is also work. I had forgotten how to choose to read. I haven’t solved the problem yet, but I’ve at least identified that it has existed. For too long now I’ve come home from work and chosen not to read. My booklist just keeps growing, so it certainly hasn’t been for a lack of exciting prospects. It is a good time to change that, while I’m here in Paris, where reading seems to be top priority. There are so many bookstores, lovely translations in all of the windows, and exquisite copies of the classics. Last week, I spent a relaxing Sunday at the Jardin de Luxeumbourg, doing just that. I’m still reading Emile Zola, still revelling in each sentence and planning to turn around and read it again, in French. I bundled myself up in scarfs and gloves and sat with the many other Parisians who seem to love this activity. The gardens chairs are scattered in little groups of one or two or five facing the urns of flowers against the background of the palace grounds. I found two chairs facing each other, put my feet up, and read. I’ve also rediscovered my love of reading on the edge of the Seine, at a cafe table, or over lunch. But I haven’t yet re-formed the habit at home. Reading at the beginning of the day with the city outside my window and a coffee in hand. Reading after dinner and letting the evening dissolve away from me. Reading before bed, curled up and ready to absorb it all, eventually waking up with new ideas. This is my new goal. Reading in.

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