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Paint Fox 7-25-4 (Read 704 times)
Jul 26th, 2004 at 3:57am

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“We don’t really give these out anymore”, the Harbormaster said, as he handed us a Guide to Industrial and Technical Tourism on the Ile de France.  We had showed him the paintings of “his” harbor we’d done that morning.  “There are no more port tours.”



Paris is in the summer doldrums.  I never like vacation time, when everyone leaves the city.   Years ago I made a New Years resolution to live my life so I wouldn’t need a two week vacation.  But we, too, will leave in August for three weeks.



We got a table at the Very Café in the Tuileries – no waiting.  There is nothing like sitting in the rays of the setting sun in the gardens – the dust from the feet of passers-by works up a haze of yellow and pink.  Afterward we listened to the concert in the Park, before wandering off to the Fair.



I love seeing so many kids out to eat.   They step up to one another to visit.  A bigger boy shows a smaller one how to stick his suction-tipped arrows to a tree.  Another cuts off his fathers fingers with a rubber knife, the dad folding down each to show the resulting stump.  There are at least five other kids in view, all equally busy, having the time of their lives.



The carnival mirror that makes me look thin is gone this year.  I think it’s because there is a “sculpture” in the Park that performs the opposite.   The glass-eyed red-striped wooden tiger is inexplicably missing.    The bumper cars were being driven by a mass of burkah-clad women and their children, from half a world away.  The alternating aggression and howling laughter made me smile.



Gennevilliers is the Port of Paris.  Antiques from the Marche aux Puces are packed off from here, in their containers, destined for the four corners of the globe, via Le Havre.  Petroleum, refined, arrives here from Rouen, down the Seine.



We were directed by Pierre to a public viewpoint, marvelously close to the container action.  Mad, Praying-Mantis like machines picked up containers and dashed over to the quay with them.  Then, the bigger cranes loaded the boxes onto peniches (French canal boats) for the voyage North.   The large cranes were set on railroad tracks, sliding back and forth to arrange the containers.  It took me some time to discover this in my painting, the image oddly bigger and smaller depending on the location of the crane at the time.    Otherwise, the scale was very manageable.



We sat on the stone steps of the Tuileries, watching the kids bounce twenty feet high on the rubber-rope assisted trampolines.  I was sorry no one my age tried it; it would have been better before dinner, anyway.  A gypsy guitarist strummed like Jango Rhinehart at the café serving waffles and wine.



We ate lunch on the deck of the cafeteria at the Port of Gennevilliers, right in front of the grain elevator.  We ate hearty, with red wine dispensed from what looked like a milk machine.  We were too early for this year’s wheat harvest.



In our rental car we surveyed the six waterways, dedicated to containers, grains and hydrocarbons.  The harbor office gave us the number for the free port bus, and invited us to come back to paint again.



Laurie (text) and Blair (painting) PESSEMIER

painting oil on linen, 16 x 11 inches

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