Archive for October, 2016

My Trip to France in 1996

October 31, 2016
Drawn while riding the fast train from Paris to Bègles on September 28 1996.

Drawn while riding the fast train from Paris to Bègles, September 1996.

In late September and early October of 1996, I made my only trip overseas.  I left North America.  Perhaps I will do so again someday.

I was chosen to exhibit at the Musée de la Création Franche in Bègles, France.  Of the seventeen artists, I was the only American.  I was in good company.  I really enjoyed the artwork of the other artists that I exhibited with. Some, like Roy Wenzel and Evelyne Postic, I’ve looked at their work recently.  Others, I still need to track them down.

This was sponsored by my good friend, the late Jacques Karamanoukian.  We traveled together and he was my host, guide and translator.  Thank you, Jacques!

It’s hard for me to believe that this was twenty years ago.  It seems like it was far more recent than that.  So much of this trip is fresh and clear in my mind and heart.

I'm on the left, Jaber is center. Paris, September 1996. Photo by Jacques Karamanoukian.

With Jaber, center. At a Paris art gallery. September 1996. Photo by Jacques Karamanoukian.

I’ll try to have a more detailed history of this adventure next time.  For now, here a a few scattered memories:

The long flight was an experience in itself.  I’d flown to New York but this was different.  I was happy to be flying over Great Britain.  There were clouds and textures in the sky.

I was walking around Paris and Clamart reading Homer’s Odyssey, my travel book of choice.  I was also drawing a lot, of course.

My French language skills are fairly poor.  I know what a lot of  the words mean but I can’t string them all together.  People would translate for me.  I communicated with artists through art or through performance.  By the time I left I’d learned to make change at least, in my intent yet fumbling attempts to speak French.

I had one especially great walk where I just wandered around Paris. One thing that I found was this old store, Deyrolle. I especially loved its drawers full of brightly colored butterflies and moths..  I opened one drawer after another.

There were other surreal chance encounters.  I met one guy who knew the poet Ted Joans and a photo he’d taken of him in his wallet. Joans died in 2003.  I look at his work fairly often.

It was great going from Paris to Bègles.  We took the fast train and things seemed to rush by.  Bègles is in the south of France, near Bordeaux. Showing my work there was a great experience.  Besides most of the artists that I showed with, I met other artists as well.

These included Claudine Goux and Gerard Sendrey.  They’re both wonderful artists and had known Jacques for a while.

Musée de la Création Franche is a wonderful space.  It was a pleasure and an honor to be shown there.  My work was well received.


To close, here are some photos from a bit where I was playing Jaber’s puppet or mechanical man.  He “conducted” me despite the language difference.  He pretended to wind me up as if I had a key in my back and set me off on my action.  Jaber is quite a guy. He and Jacques were good friends.  I still see his work on the internet. I’ll write more about Monsieur Jaber in the future.


Photograph by Jacques Karamanoukian


Photograph by Jacques Karamanoukian.


Photograph by Jacques Karamanoukian.



Ted Joans:

The Musée de la Création Franche, in Bègles: