To each and to all greetings.
I am writing from Saint-Remy-de-Provence where I am spending a week with Jean and Paul who are still meandering through France in search of the perfect setting for their art work. The setting is nearly idyllic, in the middle of an olive orchard, at the edge of town, in a rented house (the French call it a “gite”) with the momentous name of “Mas du Roi des Rois”, i.e. Home of the King of Kings. No wonder, I have been stuck in awe ever since my arrival.
My hosts being artists did welcome me at the TGV station in Avignon with huge paint brushes in hand, so that I would be sure not to miss them. And then since then, it has been slave labor: I have been initiated to painting with soft pastels, and forced to produce something almost every day. One misstep and as with apprentices of yesteryear, I got stuck with brushstrokes by the masters. I was even forced to take a walk in nature and go to the shore of Lac de Peiroou in the Alpilles; it is an artificial lake created during the first century BC by the Romans when they built a dam on the local stream. The landscape is spectacular and my modest rendering in no way does justice to the actual view.
Among other indignities, I was forced to come to town to an art show, to return to town on market day (absolutely spectacular) and to spend one day to go to Camargue to the ornithological park of Pont du Gau, the most distinguished denizens of which are pink flamingos who continue doing their flamingo thing with total disregard for their human visitors. Almost as distinguished are the mosquitoes who are supposed to feast on human blood, but a little breeze during our day frustrated their voracity, and you could have heard me sing, well hum at most, “O Freude”. Less famous, but certainly quite spectacular are beavers, carps, and other animals that are difficult to meet on an ordinary subway ride.
Each of you will be able to understand, I trust, why I anticipate with strong feelings the arrival of Friday when I catch a bullet train to Paris. Witness to my sufferings, some of my “artwork” is exhibited below:
Self Portraits After Too Much Wine
Also a sample of what I saw in St. Remy.
For those among you who remain clueless, Saint-Remy-de-Provence is where Vincent Van Gogh was interned; more recently Dr. Albert Schweitzer was also interned in the same place, although for different reasons, the latter because he was a German subject and it was not fashionable to be so during WWI. Among other titles to fame, Saint-Remy was Charles Gounod’s birthplace and it had already been so earlier to Nostradamus.
In spite of everything, as documented above, I cannot thank enough Paul and Jean for their kindness, their hospitality, and their patience and their permanent upbeat mood.