a performing and teaching company

Provence

PROVENCE TRAVELOGUE

Daniel’s Previous Travelogue, Provence, 2016

#2: SECOND WEEK IN FRANCE June 9th, 2024-June 15th, 2024

Some images and stories from the past week. I am up daily before the sun and working in its path not long after, chasing the light each day until the late arrival of evening, as artists have been compelled to do here for centuries. Longer! Living here there is a different sense of history. Working, typing these words, from the bedroom of Dora Maar. The chapel a few minutes walk, built in 1720. The structures I’m living in from the Middle Ages. Surrounded by traces of prehistoric civilizations.

Sunday, June 9, 8am. Room With A View. Sunday morning looking outside the studio window. Word on the street was that Le Mistral would arrive. The same day, ten hours later, 6pm, a storm came with rain and hail and thunder. Le Mistral would be arriving. The mistral is a super strong cold wind that is particular to the region. The winds were strong indeed. It started on Monday and lasted for three days! However, once it began the skies were incredibly blue. That’s how it works.

This Wikipedia entry is insightful: “The mistral helps explain the unusually sunny climate (2700 to 2900 hours of sunshine a year) and clarity of the air of Provence. When other parts of France have clouds and storms, Provence is rarely affected for long, since the mistral quickly clears the sky. In less than two hours, the sky can change from completely covered to completely clear. The mistral also blows away the dust, and makes the air particularly clear, so that during the mistral it is possible to see mountains 93 miles and farther away. This clarity of the air and light is one of the features that attracted many French impressionist and post-impressionist artists to the South of France. (Jean Vialar, Les vents régionaux et locaux, 1948, republished by Météo-France in 2003)”

This helps explain why I cannot stop capturing the views from morning until evening each day. Monday, June 10, 7am. Photo shoot on the street. The mistral did not prevent work from getting accomplished outside, even though Phil’s hat blew straight off his head while we were preparing to film. It stayed aloft but we managed to grab it before it could have easily blown away. With Phil (Philippe!) shooting near the Church.

The blue of the sky is incredible. There’s the camera set up for the morning photo shoot.

Tuesday, June 11, 7:30 am. I’m going to let Rosie Millard tell this story, a journalist I met on Monday, the day before, in between the two shoots. These are excerpted from The Arts Stack, a reader-supported publication! The entry is dated June 13 on the site. Had no idea she would be doing this, let alone using a photo she snapped after in her kitchen! Visit the site. It’s a terrific read!

Back to the supermarket. Regard these round zucchinis! Don’t think I’ve seen those at Wal-Mart.

9:30pm. The sunsets during these days of the Mistral were unbelievably rich in color.

Wednedsday, June 12. In the garden, preparing for a shoot with another participant in the project.

The magnificent blue. Here is the same view as the sunset photo from the night beforet. A view of the side of the Maison toward the Town Hall, with the bell that rings each hour with the time and each half hour on the hour all day and evening. The garden entrance, that is the gate, is also pictured here. The garden is playing a central role in the residency. Literally. It has been the meeting place, steps from the front door.

Invited to a wonderful dinner party at l’Hôtel de Tingry in advance of artist Joseph Havel’s exhibition Fantômes opening two days later. The vernissage was Friday night, June 14. The light was so compelling I couldn’t stop taking photos out the window while eating! The same window an hour later!

 

June 13. This butterfly, resembling a Monarch, but not is the Petit Nacré. The flower is Buddleia (Buddleja), or butterfly bush, a favorite for butterflies but apparently not nourishing for them! Also called summer lilac!

Reflection in Le Mob, the gallery/shop in the Maison. The Mobylette, sometimes shortened to Mob, is a model of moped by French manufacturer Motobécane. Although in fact Dora Maar’s moped was Peugot! Her bike is inside.

Saw these artichoke-related flowers last year in Crete.

This was a happy moment, when given permission to gain access to the village’s cemetery. Thanks to Mireille who first phoned the Mayor’s office. I followed up and after signing it out in the register, was given this wonderful key.

With the directrice of the Dora Maar Cultural Center, author Gwen Strauss, before the opening!

A lovely dinner party with this view on Friday night. The views are not hard to find. One’s never far from a gorgeous one!

Saturday, June 15. Walking down to see the Chapelle Notre Dame des Grâces, rebuilt in 1720 by the Ménerbiens, “in a gesture of thanks for having been spared the plague, the chapel is constructed on the remains of an ancient religious edifice. There is an arched doorway with two windows on either side and an oculus in the pediment which is topped with a small bell tower.”

The figs are coming!

A view of the Maison from the chapel. The world is outside the House taking photos constantly. Tours happen frequently and anyone can stop to have one of the garden and house (1st two floors, not top two floors, where the artists are living) I joined a tour this week so I could learn more about the House and its history.

The projects advanced greatly this week. Multiple films developing. Excited and thankful for the interest of people from around the area to participate! This photo from this past week. What caption might you give? À bientôt!

#1: FIRST WEEK IN FRANCE – May 31, 2024-June 8, 2024

In 2016, Daniel, selected to be an artist in residence at the Maison Dora Maar, spent a month living and working in Ménerbes. In 2019, he returned to screen The Performer at the Maison, a film produced during the residency. Now in 2024 he has been awarded another month-long residency. “Sometimes lightning strikes twice,” he writes. The Travelogue Begins.

I kept a Travelogue from this first summer in Provence, in 2016. It’s amazing to read “On May 31 I flew from New York to Paris.” The same exact date this year when making the trip! JFK to De Gaulle! This is the Maison, the house I am fortunate to share with two artists from June 1-July 4. I shot the exterior a few hours after arriving on the 1st, as I similarly captured the valley and myself. Before getting to the village, there was a brief, fun stop in Paris.

A DAY AND NIGHT IN PARIS

May 31, 2024, Friday. Arrived in Paris just after noon. The flight itself easy and quick though not without effort, a seventy-pound checked bag plus two heavy carry-ons including the Company’s two cameras, tripod, and laptop. While I took the subway to JFK, I needed a taxi to Paris. Escalators (escaliers méchanique, mechanical stairs) or elevators (l’ascenceur) are not found easily in the Métro, unsurprisingly given its age. But beautiful elevators were at Madeleine, the station at which I transferred to Gare de Lyon in the morning.

During the hour-plus long taxi I spoke with Karime. As he was driving he showed me paintings made by his daughter, 19. It was a wonderful meandering welcoming tour of Paris: there’s Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur à la gauche, there’s L’Opera à la droite, driving directly through the Louvre, Rive Gauche, the 6th arrondissment, to where Franck lives, on Rue du Saint Placide near Le Bon Marché.

It was fun to snap moments from the taxi window. A cloudy day with bursts of brilliant sunshine, raining on and off, as it has been in Paris, as it has been in New York.

Artist Eva Jospin’s “La Traversée, an installation of cardboard, glue, and wood, part of The Beau Passage a new corridor open from 7am until midnight (ouvert de 7h à minuit), full of restaurants and art.

This double portrait captures the rainy afternoon in Paris with my dear friend Franck. We met eight Junes ago in Ménerbes.

Centaure (1985). This tall bronze was made by a sculptor named César entre 1983 et 1985 with the assistance of Régis Bocquel.

The beauty of Paris is everywhere.

The first meal in Paris was not Parisian but Italian. Even earlier in the day, everything in the quartier was already reserved! Mon chapeau a Le Cherche Midi. That’s my hat!

June 1, Saturday. The TGV heading south, from Paris’ Gare de Lyon, to Avignon is comfortable and lives up to its name, très grande vitesse! From there, Victor was waiting to drive the 40km to the village. We spoke the whole way. The French returning, already beginning to flow. He dropped me off at the House at 2:20pm. The first photos I took upon arriving.

The whole month of June is spread open before me like these endless vistas, with both many goals to accomplish and much liberty with which to define their contours.

The garden in memory of American artist Joe Downing, just in front of the Maison.

3:45pm, Chez Auzet. I see Vincent, who runs the bakery with his brother, as a 6th generation in the trade. I buy a slice of pissaladière, special to this region, something one doesn’t even find in Paris. I eat overlooking the Luberon, literally steps from the back of the House.

At 4pm I knock on Mireille’s door, below. She doesn’t answer. We haven’t seen one another yet. Through these many years we have stayed close. I cannot stop taking photos. Red poppies and roses (pink, white, yellow) are everywhere. The day is miraculous as is every moment here.

I move into the studio and begin to unpack and settle in. The wide lens captures the four sets of glorious windows! I am spending much of each day developing material here.

In the evening, a wonderful jazz concert featuring the fantastic, celebrated Aurore Voilqué Trio, from Paris, playing music in the jazz manouche genre, à la Django Reinhardt. Dinner after with the musicians, presenters, director of the Maison and current artists, was lovely, winding down at 11pm after many tartes, more pissaladière, these balls of pate I hadn’t seen before, the requisite cheese plate, and more tarte for dessert with framboises.

Sunday, June 2. The first day waking up at the residency. This kind of view greets one, here from the terrace to the garden.

A special reunion with Mireille at her place for a terrific lunch and afternoon together.

This bird came to visit us while we ate.

After leaving I began some preliminary shooting in the street. Those photos to come!

Monday, June 3. Up early, 5am, and soon after in the garden. Spent the day exploring locations and shooting, in the garden and at the Hotel de Tingry, an elegant 17th century residence that is part of the Dora Maar Center.

Grocery shopping at the Super U.

Walking to Mireille’s, for dinner. We work on the language for the emails I will send to potential participants of the project. She helps me find the most appropriate way to communicate this in French.

Did not leave until close to 10pm. She gives comté, a huge brioche, like a cake, a package of bread, fruits…My French Mother!

Tuesday, June 4. To La Poste and met Florence who had emailed news about the project to everyone on the post office’s mailing list! This is why I’ve been hearing from people living in other villages too, from Apt, Lacoste, Gordes and others.

Stopped at Mireille’s and visited her grotto and garden below.

But not for long. Eager to be working. The sun calls. If using it is must be grabbed in the right place at the right time.

More shoots. In the evening we were invited to the home of two former fellows for a sensational, welcoming dinner. Can’t believe it’s still light at 10 o’clock!

Wednesday, June 5. Waking up at 5:30am and plunged right into a few hours of research in the garden, followed by breakfast. Have spent the day shooting and organizing the project with the community. Meetings will begin happening later in the week!

More grocery shopping. This time also to the Bio Coop, organic co-op, in Coustellet. The produce is exquisite everywhere.

Thursday, June 6. Breakfast outside in the sun again. A great meeting with Philippe, a painter, who will be involved in the project. Stefanos and I had met him five years ago at Dora Maar.

It is always near the end of the day when the golden sun is best when I rage against the light. This is what happens when the studio is the outside natural world. It doesn’t get any better than working like this!

Friday, June 7. After an early day and again a breakfast in the garden, I spent the day meeting with three more potential participants. Two of them will be involved in the project! Following this a lovely dinner party with this view of Ménerbes! The social calendar was full this first week with generous hospitality!

Saturday, June 8. Met with Leana, 9 years old. A first impression was her saying hello and then pushing off on a scooter down the street. This said, we’ll meet again this coming Wednesday for a preliminary shoot.

After working in the garden during the afternoon I went to the Soirée d’Été in the center of town. A reunion with Anne, we met five years ago, and Franck at the village festivity. I ate four merguez, lamb sausage, fries, and local brewed beer while a band
played and people danced.

It was a most productive week with no fewer than ten shoots catalogued by Saturday afternoon and various meetings defining the community project, including a call in to the Mayor’s Office to learn if it would be possible to film from the cemetery, located at the summit of the village.

In 2016 I had written: “The Maison holds monthly salons, the next June 25, when we will present our work. Will I dance, show a film, or both?” Our Salon will be June 20 this month and I again am uncertain whether I will perform along with showing some films. Time will tell again. As for this image, shot then, I am demanding no less on myself this time around, exploring known spaces and finding new ones, working to overcome gravity, and even the need for too much sleep. I am here but for a moment, as we all are, and am seizing the days.

 

À la prochaine fois…to the next time.