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Paint Fox, The Boat Hat (Read 4995 times)
Reply #1 - Nov 29th, 2003 at 10:25pm

LaurieP   Offline
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In the kitchen, turkey bones boil for broth.  "I put those in the freezer," my brother-in-law tells me over the telephone, "so I can pop out a cube and finish a sauce."   They had 14 for dinner.  My brother-in-law's sister made centerpieces, everyone raved about.  Later in the call, my sister and I laugh about how every year we made a "log cabin" out of Lincoln logs for the dinner table.  When I left home, she added two styrofoam pilgrims to the maquette.

The butcher cooked our turkey this year.  While my fridge/freezer is larger, my oven is smaller.  I am more of a stove-top chef, anyway.  A small group this year, just the five of us enjoyed the usual fixings.  Afterward, I made a turkey curry (we ate it at the restaurant) and a turkey risotto.

I painted a very large Indian and Pilgrim for our dining room -- each nearly six feet tall.   I could only find Squanto in the form of a bust on the Internet -- I mixed him with Massoit's sculpted body.  The two were facing different directions -- the pictures were doctored with a fair amount of imagination.  I'd been thinking of Squanto because I saw him mentioned on the outside of a sack for French "Polaine" bread.  Squanto, it said, introduced corn to the Europeans, who came to America.  More importantly, Squanto's knowledge of English (learned in prison) made him a great help to the Pilgrims.

The Pilgrim is taken from the statue of "The Puritan" by Gaudens, in Springfield, Massachusetts.   It is such a scary statue I can recall it in great detail, as it looms over the quad in the center of the city.   It stands not far from the bronzes of the Grinch, and Thing One and Thing Two, from the Theodore Geisel stories.  Dr. Seuss was from Springfield, along with the Puritan.  It calms me to remember that.

When I look at the two giants in my dining room, it is apparent where some of the problem lay.  The Indian stands, with a minimum of clothes, and a nice array of feathers, opposite a buttoned up Englishman, clutching a  Holy Bible.  There is no doubt in my mind who I would rather be, bigger than life.  Unfortunately, my instincts are more that of the Pilgrim -- I grew up in the cradle of that civilization, in New England.

Thursday morning, at the restaurant, a Sikh came in for coffee.  For me, he was not such an oddity, but at the restaurant he was a sensation.  Nicole took his photo emphasizing his bright orange turban.  The regulars at the bar asked him where he was from and what he was doing there -- visiting, from Punjab.  Blair and I were the translators.  He will forever be recalled here as "the Sikh".  Without figures bigger than life we cannot have heroes.

The first Sikh I knew was in Seattle, and his name was Raj.  In the kitchen he showed me the Tandoori oven, bragging,  "I can cook a man in that oven."  He was always warm and friendly, and I looked forward to his rice birjani most Friday nights.

There is a marked lack of diversity in continental Europe, save for immigrants from former colonies, heavily imbued with the prevailing culture, or those poor individuals imported to perform the lowest tasks.   In France, Germany, Italy, it is unthought of to have a non-native official.   Steady habits prevail.  It is a lesser place for that.

I am inspired to paint more heroes and thieves:  Gypsies, doctors, Flamenco dancers and street cleaners -- images that populate our minds and make us think, otherwise known as conversation pieces.  I ignore the bad rap given stereotypes during the "politically correct" 1990s.  It isn't the generalization that is bad but the characteristic immortalized.  It is better to think of a dog as "man's best friend" than to recall his bite.

I listen to a radio interview with an American Jazz musician on Paris Jazz, 89.9FM.  He was successful 30 years ago, but frequently not paid.  He fell into living on the street, before he was resurrected and took up Jazz once again.  I am flabbergasted by this contrast, and think "only in America".  Destiny and responsibility dictate our lives.

When we enter the restaurant, Michel croons, "Welcome, my Americans."  There are people there who only think of us as the Americans, without names.  It is an important role I assume.  And when people ask us, I always tell them, "yes, most Americans are just like us."

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER

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Nov 20th, 2003 at 9:57pm

LaurieP   Offline
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artnotes: madhatter

Le chapeau fait l’homme: the hat makes the man.  Blair corrects me “Un
chapeau fait l’homme : A hat makes the man.  This is France!” 

We went to Chinatown to buy nuts today, for the restaurant – 5.40 € for a
kilo (2.2 pounds).  We pick up candles and an electric fly swatter for my mother’
s Christmas stocking. 

At the Vietnamese restaurant there we eat our caramelized fish and drink
sweet soy coffee.  The owner, a round, Cambodian-type Vietnamese has dyed his salt and pepper hair brown, with blond streaks.  In fact, all the men and women who work there (tall, thin, square toothed Vietnamese of Terry and the Pirates), have colored their hair the same way.   I figure they must have a
hairdresser in the family.

We arrive at 2:30, just as lunch is drawing to a close.  It is the best time
at the restaurant, I think – when you get to see what the staff eats.  They
are all using bright green jade (plastic?) chopsticks.  The dog, a bulgy-eyed
black bulldog,  emerges from the kitchen.   Well behaved, he cowers as they take a small brass bell from the Buddha shrine and shake it at him.

We’ve been working at the restaurant every night recently.  Besides our
regular work, and trying to paint for our new expo, this additional activity leaves
us exhausted.  Majo, the regular assistant is having trouble with his work
papers.  According to the French government, he’s somehow taken one year too many to get his diploma.   This nationalism is endemic – an American friend, expelled from Russia for a month, is spending a week with us as he awaits his new visa.  I hold my breath for our own visa renewal in January.

I  ask Anne-Marie about whether “a hat” or “the hat” makes the man.  “A hat”
definitely.  She objects to the man.  How about “once there was a hat?”   I
thank her for her input.

Nicole is in complete agreement with her and Blair – it’s a hat or nothing. 
I accept a drink.   I tell her and Anne-Marie,  how I am walking an hour a
day so I can eat and drink whatever I want.  “I would walk 100 miles if I can
just have whatever I want,” I enthuse.  They laugh and tell me I am just “so
American!”.

My nephew Henry has been wearing his new ski pants at the breakfast table –
he wears his snow boots to school despite dry weather.  I was like that myself–
wearing my new shoes to bed.  It will snow.  THE hat makes the man.

I press on painting a hat a day (I meant to paint 3 – I could easily do 3
butterflies during lunchtime) for the show Blair, Odile and I are having next
week.  Odile is painting portraits – Nicole suggested we combine our heads and
hats.  Like a madhatter, I try to do justice to each new chapeau, hoping to make that date.

Laurie (text) and Blair (painting) PESSEMIER
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http://www.paintfox.com/
 
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