Nathalie Lemaître at work (http://www.nathalielemaitre.com/)
Following my earlier post
on Nathalie Lemaître’s
exhibit at Fesitval America
, I sent her a few interview questions to get a better sense of her methods and cultural perspective regarding this series. Below is a translation of the Q & A.
The full interview in French can be found at the end of this post.
'La Croquese' from Lemaître Poker series
1. Aside from your visual memories of your many visits to New York City, what else served as a source of personal inspiration for this exhibition?
My emotional memory. The emotions that are in me, whether I'm in New York or elsewhere.
2. How long does it generally take for you to create one of these paintings?
I can make a painting in a day, but the preparation takes me much longer. My actual painting technique is very fast, but I do preparatory sketches and I reflect a lot beforehand.
3. What are the main differences you notice between Paris and New York? What are some similarities?
For me, New York and Paris are like two sisters, each filled with dreams and intelligence. Paris is the old Europe; New York is the new world. However, New York is already loaded with nostalgia.
4. Out of all the pieces in this series, which is your favorite? Why?
My favorite painting is "Crystal City" for the effect of contrast, and because it represents New York in an unusual way. But also "Empire Shadow", for the sense of vertigo.
Below is a slideshow of selected pieces from Nathalie's collections, uploaded from her website. They include pieces from series entitled "expressionniste", "ethnique" and "poker."
Original interview text (en français, bien sûr!)
1. A part vos souvenirs de New York, qu'elles ont été vos autres sources d'inspirations pour cette exposition?
Ma mémoire émotionnelle. Les émotions qui sont en moi, que je sois à New York ou ailleurs.
2. Combien de temps est ce que ça vous prend pour créer un tableau en moyenne?
Je peux faire un tableau en une journée, mais la préparation est beaucoup plus longue. Ma peinture est rapide, mais je fais des croquis préparatoires et je réfléchis beaucoup.
3. Quelles sont les grandes différences pour vous entre Paris et New York? Quelles en sont les principales similitudes ?
Pour moi, NYC et Paris sont comme deux soeurs remplies de rêve et d'intelligence. Paris, c'est la vieille europe. New York, c'est le nouveau monde. Pourtant, NYC est déjà chargée de nostalgie.
4. Quelle est votre tableau préféré? Pourquoi?
Mon tableau préféré, c'est "Cristal city" pour l'effet de contraste, parce qu'il represente New York d'une manière inhabituelle. Mais aussi "Empire shadow", pour le vertige.
This morning while running some errands on Rue de Grenelle
, I passed a real live chimney sweep
I kid you not. Soot covered face, broom in tow. It was awesome.
I know for a fact that I was not the only person to get overly excited by this observation, as I overheard the following two comments by fellow anglophones on the sidewalk.
Comment #1: "Wow, look at that, a real live chimney sweep!"Comment #2: "It's fabulous, isn't it?"
Yes I say. Yes it is.
Photo by Carolyn Englar
This past weekend I went to go see some art.
No, I didn't see pieces by Monet, Rodin or Dali. They were by Nathalie Lemaître
-- my landlord.
Yes, this is Paris, and these things are actually quite normal.
Nathalie's pieces were on display at Festival America
, held this past weekend in Vincennes
. Festival America is a literary festival where more than sixty North American authors convene to “celebrate and discuss the world of letters, and the letters which define the world.”
The event included readings, debates and appearances by a diverse selection of writers from all over North America, as well as film screenings and musical events.
Check out the video below to learn more:
Photo by Carolyn Englar
I will confess – I am cheap, and didn’t want to shell out the 6€ to see the full exhibit, so I just looked at the pieces my landlord had on display in the Coeur de Ville.
The exhibit was titled “Manhattan Dream, New York : la cité rêvée”
and was made up of about ten large paintings all portraying various aspects of New York City.
For these pieces, Nathalie used a combination of painting and collage, oil on paper and magazine clippings to portray different scenes city life, while incorporating cinematic, architectural, literary and musical references.
I am no art expert, but I personally enjoy this style of mixed mediums. And it’s not so avant-garde that you need a Ph.D. in Art History to appreciate it, yet there is certainly a high level of creativity involved that makes these pieces more than just paint on canvas.
I would say my two favorites were “Empire Shadow”
(above left) and “My Little Square.”
The first because it does a great job of portraying the imposing and sometimes overwhelming stature of the city, and I appreciate the use of light and shadow. And I’m not gonna lie, I also enjoy the small pieces of Obama paraphernalia tucked away in the corners. The second piece stands out to me for the vibrant use of color, and well, the cute dog panting in the corner.
Screw communications. I think I’ve clearly found my calling as an art critic.
Check out the gallery below of additional photos I took at Festival America.
And make sure to check out Nathalie’s website
to see more of her amazing work!
I'm aware that LiLo
has essentially nothing to do with Paris, or my life, and certainly not this blog.
But I just had to post this article from New York Magazine
about Lindsay's recent act of charity, because I used her as an example of insincere celebrity activism two posts ago
And look what happened.... "Two days after she was released from jail, LiLo made a visit to the Dream Center Sunday. No, that’s not a rehab facility (though she’s apparently going to be heading to one of those Monday morning). In fact, Lindsay spent part of her day at a non-profit homeless shelter and outreach center, where she met with children and families and signed autographs."
Maybe this stint in rehab will ensure that cocaine stays out of her system.
For at least three weeks.
I have a confession to make.
I didn’t really move to Paris for the famous museums, the rich cultural history or the stunning architecture.
I came here for the booze.
OK, the truth is, I came here for all the above reasons, and much more. But everyone knows that wine in France is delicious, cheap and as easy to come by as tap water or McDonald’s.
In France, it’s always cheaper to buy a glass of wine than a Coke in a café, and you can generally get a good bottle at your local grocery store for less than three euros.
And by good, I mean it makes the Barefoot Pinot Grigio
I drank all throughout college taste like watered down...well, water.
Photo by Carolyn Englar
A second confession: I’m a total sucker for champagne. But let's be honest -- who isn’t?
So this evening I decided to treat myself to my own happy hour and purchase a little bottle of bubbly pour moi même.
I would like to clarify that technically, I am not drinking “champagne”, but sparkling wine
. For the beverage to be dubbed “champagne,” it has to be created in the Champagne region
of France. But unless you’re a wine connoisseur, you really can’t tell the difference.
This bottle of what I consider to be perfectly delectable sparkling wine was roughly 6.35 €. Based on my brief online research, this brand generally goes for anywhere from 12$-16$ in the states.
So I got twice (or three times) the taste, for half the price? Now that’s
une tradition I can get behind.Santé!
Photo from Englar album, taken by Emily Paul
I'm a Gemini. So even though I don't generally buy into the whole zodiac business -- apparently we're using the wrong calendar anyways and we're all walking around thinking we're the wrong sign; maybe I'm actually a Libra, who knows? -- I oftentimes find myself living up to my zodiac reputation and battling between two conflicting sides of myself.Last weekend at Peace One Day, I was fighting between my inner cynic (who shows herself more often than I'd like) and my inner peace-loving optimist (see photo on the right).
In the midst of all the lights, glamour and drunken French fans, I did a lot of thinking during this concert. And I admit that at first I was a bit put off by the whole event.
Is a global day of peace actually possible? And even if it were, what could it realistically accomplish in the long term? Was this just four hours of music so that upper-class, mostly white Westerners could relieve themselves of any guilt they may feel regarding the state of the developing world?
It was also interesting watching this concert in France, with a mostly Francophone audience. I had to cringe slightly when Youssou N'Dour led the crowd in a call and repeat session of chanting "Africa" during each chorus. Haven't they like, still not formally apologized for that whole Algeria debacle? And racism towards North African immigrants (and even 2nd and 3rd generation French citizens of North African decent) remains a massive issue in this country. Something about the whole situation just didn't sit well with me.
Wired.com ran an interesting piece back in 2008, about Bono and his work in Africa, analyzing the role of celebrity in charitable causes. Basically the article breaks up celebrities into two groups: those who actually care, and those who are just doing it to get some good PR.
Washington lobbyist Tom Sheridan of The Sheridan Group was asked to show Bono the ins and outs of Capitol Hill.
The article quotes Sheridan as explaining the following about celebrity involvement in social and political issues:
"If an issue group seems to have been used by a celebrity to distract form a celebrity's other problems -- say, a drug rehab problem or a marriage problem [...] it will diminish the respect that other people have for that issue and that group. It becomes somewhat of a caricature of bad photo opp celebrity activism. That can have a backlash."
However, the article also points out that if a celebrity is honestly committed to the cause and advocating effective programs, their start power can actually have an impact on voters and policy makers in Washington.
To summarize: When Lindsay Lohan decides to open a school for young recovering drug addicts, visit flood victims in Pakistan and meet with Nelson Mandela, it's about as sincere as her fourth stint in rehab. But if it looks like a celebrity has been truly devoted to a cause over the course of his or her career, during both Oscar winning years and those spent at Promises, it's probably the real deal
As the evening wore on, the ice queen inside me slowly began to melt away. I learned that Jude Law and Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley actually went to Afghanistan and were able to get both sides to agree to a 24-hour cease fire. Jude Law has also taken the time to speak to UNICEF about the cause, and it's clear that Gilley has devoted well over a decade of his time, his money and essentially his soul to this important issue of global peace.So overall, I decided that while some of the performers and dramatic film voice-overs seemed a bit cheesy (although it could have just been Gilley's extremely posh English accent), this is obviously an important cause that everyone should support. And if it ultimately succeeds in its goal to institutionalize peace, the results could save millions and millions of lives around the world.
To learn more about Peace One Day, check out the video below:
Yodelice (Photo by Carolyn Englar)
This weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy two lovely nights of music in Paris.
The first: a massive benefit concert with celebrity A-list hosts, over 3,000 people in attendance and a wide variety of musical acts. The second: a much smaller venue in the Oberkampf
area of Paris, with free admission and standing room only. This post will focus on the first event, but more to come in the next few weeks on the second (pending a potential interview with one of the performers).
Thanks to a friend of a friend (although I now like to think that we're friends in our own right -- he's tagged in at least nine of my Facebook photos), a small group of us got discounted tickets to attend the Peace One Day concert
at Le Zenith
this past Friday.
According to their website, Peace One Day
is an organization "working to institutionalize Peace Day [September 21st], making it a day that is self-sustaining, an annual day of global unity, a day of intercultural cooperation on a scale that humanity has never known."
Oh, and even better than world peace, did I mention that the event was hosted by Jude Law
and Sharon Stone
??? Yes ladies, from what I could see Jude is just as handsome in person. Sadly I didn't make it backstage to check for any sightings of Sienna Miller (or the nanny
The line up for the evening was pretty eclectic: the concert opened with French singer Yodelice
, then a short but enjoyable set from Vanessa Paradis
(sadly, Johnny Depp
was a no-show). The first act closed with Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour
and his backing band. N'Dour was by far the most dynamic act of the evening, and kept the crowd on their feet for most of his set.
Youssou N'Dour (Photo by Carolyn Englar)
After about a 20-minute intermission it was already past 10pm, so the second act seemed to drag a bit. But popular French singer "M
" (who is essentially attempting to harness Hendrix and Prince simultaneously), opened the second half and kept my full attention for most of his set (even though I had no clue who he was).
After giving Nigerian-German singer-songwriter Ayo.
a chance to show her stuff, Patti Smith
belted out a few tunes, and was the first act of the night to play a song I actually knew
(although Paradis did perform a lovely rendition of "Hallelujah"
, which I'm also familiar with).
I have to admit, I left about one minute into the closing act to avoid insane metro traffic. English performer Charlie Winston
is apparently not that popular in his home country, but massive in France. Needless to say, 0ur group of four Anglophones had no problem walking out, leaving the French masses to revel in unoriginal pop riffs and cheesy lyrics.
I will continue to discuss highlights and my overall perspective about this event in my next post. For now, feel free to check out additional photos I took at the concert. It was a bit tough to get nice shots with that massive crane in the way. But I did my best!
Below are two humorous clips I found that I think do a decent job of shining some humor on complex French-Anglo relations:
I often wish I was adventurous enough to really get outside my comfort zone and move to a country that is essentially the polar opposite of the United States. I feel extremely fortunate to have traveled as much as I have at a relatively young age, but I have very rarely ventured outside the European Union. That being said, I think it can be easy to underestimate the differences between the U.S. and our European allies. Even though France is obviously much more similar to the U.S. than say, Zimbabwe, everyone is bound to experience some level of culture shock.
So I wanted to post a few points of advice to any American hoping to move to or vacation in Paris. Most of these "words of wisdom" may seem obvious: but it honestly took me until my fourth time of moving to France to fully develop a (mostly) Zen approach to living abroad. Below is a list of five key pieces of advice that I wish I had heard before moving to Paris the first time back in 2005. This post offers more general advice, with some logistical recommendations as well as some guidance on how to adjust your outlook. Next week I will offer more concrete specific advice, on banking, purchasing cell phones, etc. But I hope that the below information can help any OCD, type-A American survive (and possibly even enjoy themselves) in this European epicenter of wine, cheese, socialized medicine and strikes. Bienvenue a Paris!
1. Patientez s'il vous plait.
France is well known for many things. Efficiency is not one of them. But frankly, if you were really seeking out someplace that functioned as efficiently as the U.S., wouldn't you just move to Germany? It may seem obvious, but the French way of doing things, whether it's obtaining a visa or buying groceries, is very different than what we're used to in the states. Most places of business close for an hour or two during lunch. Most people generally stop working at 5pm. If you are moving to France, and planning to set up a life here, it will generally take you two to four weeks to settle all logistical issues. That being said...2. Remember la joie de vivre!
You're living in the country that is known around the world for having the best versions of nearly all things delicious in life: wine, bread, cheese, chocolate, pastries, art, music, fashion and 35 hour work weeks. Who cares if you don't have internet in your apartment within 24 hours (or three weeks) of moving?? So what if you need to visit the cell phone store provider five times before fully understanding that you need two forms of ID, proof of housing, a bank card, and that weird "RIB
" thing everyone keeps talking about. Go purchase some delectable macarons from Pierre Hermes
(more on them later!) and eat them in front of St. Sulpice
. Or go buy a two euro bottle of wine and some out-of-this world cheese at any local market, and picnic on the Canal St. Martin
with a group of friends. All logistics will fall into place soon enough. 3. Parlez-vous français?
If you're American, you probably don't. And that's OK (as long as you are conversational in at least one other major international language, naturally.) But at least TRY to learn some basic survival words before arriving. Parisiens often get a bad reputation for being rude. And plenty of them are. But I've met just as many rude people in New York and Washington D.C. Most people in the Parisien service industry are used to Americans, or other English-speaking natives, walking into a restaurant, bar or store, and automatically speaking to the staff in English. I guarentee you, even a small attempt at a "Bonjour" or "Merci" or "Désolez, je ne parle pas français!" can go a long way. You'll actually find that a lot of French people enjoy practicing their English, and don't mind speaking it. It's the Anglo-Saxon arrogance that really gets their goat.4. Gardez vos sous.
Like pretty much any major city worth visiting, Paris is expensive. C'est evident. But there are some easy ways to save your money:
5. Market to Market.
- Food: As tempting as it is to stop by the closest épicerie (translation: mini grocery store), which are everywhere and tend to display their produce outside for all to see, you will save a lot of dough, and get better quality produce, meat, fish, cheese, etc., at your local market (see below for additional details on this wonderful French tradition).
- Transport: This is not New York City, so don't take cabs unless absolutely necessary. The metro is an efficient and relatively cheap way to get around the city. If you are under 26 and/or plan to live in Paris for an extended period of time, buy a carte imaginaire and you can pay about 32 euros a month for unlimited metro use. Or if biking is more your thing, take advantage of the Velib' program.
- Booze: Who doesn't love a country where wine is cheaper than soda and bottled water? Instead of shelling out 10 -12 euros on a watered down mixed drink or a pint, go to your closest Monoprix and buy a bottle of wine for anywhere from two to four euros. And yes, it's still delicious. You can also get a decent bottle of champagne (OK probably not technically from the region of Champagne, but delicious nonetheless) for about five euros. If you're really craving beer, it's best to buy it at a local super market (again, avoid épiceries where they jack up the prices) as opposed to out at a bar.
- Cafe: Everyone must experience the French pastime of sitting outside one of the city's many cafes and sipping a coffee while judging all the tourists and locals that pass by. But instead of paying close to five euros for a Cafe Creme (aka a latte), get a regular espresso ("cafe") or a noisette, which is basically coffee with milk. Also, DO NOT go to Starbucks unless it's an absolute emergency. They're slowly becoming more and more popular in Paris, but come on guys -- did you really fly over 3,000 miles to get a non-fat, sugar-free hazelnut latte? Please.
I think one of the best parts about Paris is that it manages to maintain some of its older cultural traditions even in the 21st century. Possibly one of my favorite French traditions is that of the outdoor market. Every arrondissement
in Paris has a semi-weekly outdoor market. It's basically like an outdoor Whole Foods, but cheaper and with less yuppies. At these markets you will find higher-quality, less expensive and local produce, meat, fish, cheese, and other delectable goodies. It's jut amazing. Check out this helpful website
that breaks down the schedules and locations of all major traditional and specialty markets in Paris.
I hope this is helpful to anyone planning a trip (or a complete life change) to Paris. More useful information to come!
Photo by Carolyn Englar
Hello everyone. My name is Carolyn. And I'm a French-a-holic.
But really, it's not my fault. I had no choice. Who is to blame for this terrible affliction one might ask? Well, my mother, of course. She was the one who dragged me to my French Immersion Elementary school starting at the tender age of five and forced me to visit crazy places like Belle Ile and Umbria (ok that was in Italy, but still) with her Parisien friends she had known for over 35 years. It was basically decided well before my birth that I, like my mother, would be physically, mentally and spiritually connected (or addicted, whichever) to la France.
I am 25 years old, and I have been to France at least nine times. I calculated that I was in France, whether it was for eight months, or one week, every year from 2004 and 2010. I feel more comfortable making my way around Paris than I do in any American city (except for perhaps Washington D.C., ma ville de naissance).
So naturally, after spending two years back in Washington (following my stint as an Assistante de Langue in Montpellier for eight months in 2007-2008), I got the itch to return to France. Again. So here I am, moving back to France for the fourth time in my quasi-young life, to do what everyone else is doing in this economy: go back to school.
And that brings me here, to "Ma Vie En Franglais." The purpose of this blog is multifaceted: it's an outlet for me to post anything Parisien related that might interest other Americans, students, tourists, or even the French themselves. I also intend to comment on the differences and similarities (yes, they do exist) between French and American culture. Our nation's history with France is complex, as is our current political relationship. Whether it is a commentary on the news of the day, or just a simple observation that may jump to my mind while jogging in les Jardins de Luxembourg , I hope that readers will find this blog to be insightful, informative, and hopefully a bit entertaining.
I leave you all with a clip of the original "American in Paris" -- while my current life isn't quite as colorful as that of Gene Kelly's in this classic film, I currently have no complaints. Enjoy, and bienvenue a Ma Vie En Franglais!